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At Least Pinocchio Had an Indicator
by Mad Dog


Just because you see it on a Web site doesnít mean itís true. Unless itís mine, of course. So yes, this means you might as well stop taking those pills that promise to make all your body parts larger, but trust me, itís for your own good.
Itís hard to know what to believe these days. Once upon a time you could rely on anything your mother, teacher, or priest told you. Then came bleary-eyed Baby Boomers telling their kids they never used drugs, teachers having babies with their students, and Catholic priests taking the first part of Boys Townís name way too seriously. Now we have President Bush telling 3 million recently unemployed people that the economyís getting better, prospective jurors in the Scott Peterson trial claiming they havenít made up their minds yet, and a 5-day weather forecast that has all the accuracy of a blind knife thrower. Is it any wonder weíve become a world full of skeptics?

   Turn on the news, itís all ďhe said, she saidĒ all of the time. Bush and Kerry are this close to degenerating into ďDid too!Ē, ďDid not!Ē, ďNanny, nanny, boo-boo!Ē The Senate investigation into the World Trade Center bombing looks like an old Saturday Night Live version of Point/ Counterpoint, which is why it might be smart for Condoleezza Rice to stay away lest someone call her an ignorant slut. And every day brings reports about the health benefits of certain foods, followed the next day by a report of how the same food can kill you. Whatís a person to believe?

   Luckily, Iím here to help you cut through this. Here are a few guidelines to help you sort it out:


They pulled the proposal after someone realized that the caustic, destructive substance they thought was deadly if inhaled is better known as H20, or water.
Donít believe everything you read
While itís easy to say you know the difference between the New York Times and the National Enquirer, youíd better hope thatís true. After all, the National Enquirer sells twice as many copies of an issue as does the Times. And the Internet? You need to be extremely cautious there. Just because you see it on a Web site doesnít mean itís true. Unless itís mine, of course. So yes, this means you might as well stop taking those pills that promise to make all your body parts larger, but trust me, itís for your own good. Besides, size doesnít matter. Much.

   This tip would have saved the city of Aliso Viejo, CA, a lot of grief. Not the one about size, the one about the Internet. City Council was set to vote on a proposed law banning the use of foam containers at city-sponsored events because theyíre manufactured using a substance that could ďthreaten human health and safety.Ē The substance is dihydrogen monoxide. They pulled the proposal after someone realized that the caustic, destructive substance they thought was deadly if inhaled is better known as H20, or water. Apparently someone found the information on a Web site and, well, the rest is dihydrogen monoxide under the bridge.

Truth is relative.
Take the near-miss we had with an asteroid this past week. At least thatís what scientists were calling it when a 100-ft wide hunk of rock had the closest brush with Earth of any asteroid thatís been tracked. Okay, so what if it was still 26,500 miles away, thatís practically tailgating in astronomical terms. And just our luck, there wasnít anyone in the space shuttle to give it a ticket. The point is, a near miss to one person isnít necessarily a near miss to you. Unless youíre talking about a guy who hasnít had his final sex change operation. Thatís pretty universal.


What would lead anyone to believe that a book written by a liar about his lying would have any more truth to it than his newspaper articles did? Maybe if they classified the book as fiction it would do better.
Examine the source.
They say a leopard canít change its spots. Of course that was before Photoshop. Recently a photograph circulated the Internet showing John Kerry and Jane Fonda on the podium at a 1970 anti-war rally. It made it into newspapers and on TV news broadcasts before someone figured out it was a composite of two different photos. Even though it was a good fake, it should have been easy to figure out. After all, Fonda appears to be singing and Kerry is wondering whose chin is larger, his or Jay Lenoís. Think people! This was supposed to be 1970, long before American Idol was a glint in Simon Cowellís eye and back when Johnny Carson was still in charge of the Tonight Show. See how easy it can be if you think it through?

Take a look at the track record.
Like the boy who cried wolf, if youíre caught not telling the truth no one will believe you again. Worse, they might make you go from room to room with gum on your nose, something which was bad enough in school but is really tough in the workplace. Trust me on this.

   A good example is Jayson Blair. Heís the former New York Times reporter who was fired for making up stories, quotes, and concert reviews for performances he hadnít bothered going to. Hard to imagine why that would be a problem at a newspaper, isnít it? Anyway, his new book, Burning Down My Master's House, just came out and itís not selling well. Okay, itís bombing. And why wouldnít it? What would lead anyone to believe that a book written by a liar about his lying would have any more truth to it than his newspaper articles did? Maybe if they classified the book as fiction it would do better.

   So to sum it up, keep your eyes open, question everything, and always look both ways before crossing the street. At least that way even if you get sucked in by some cockamamie story you wonít get hit by an asteroid.

©2004 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them, but don't believe them.

 

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