Facts about the Caravan

There is so much panic and false information floating around social media about the migrant caravan that’s making its way northward through Mexico that I thought I should weigh in, here. People are using these migrants as political pawns. Fine. But if you’re going to base your mid term votes on this issue, please at least get your facts straight. Then feel free to make your own decisions.

First of all, lets look at the raw numbers. Seven thousand people sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Enough for an invasion. Actually, given that the population of the US is now well over 328,800,000, well, this caravan comprises less than 0.002 percent of our population.

That’s a tiny little number. Think about it. If you had acne on 0.002 percent of your face, you wouldn’t even have bothered asking the photographer to airbrush your high school yearbook photo.

And of that tiny little percentage of humanity, many of them are women and children. So no need to lock up your daughters. You’re safe. (Also, from the looks of them, they haven’t even crossed the bulk of Mexico yet, and they are already exhausted, thirsty, hungry, and hardly in any shape to mount an invasion. Could you walk 2000 miles with toddlers and then kick the butt of the most militarized nation on the planet? I don’t think so.)

Even if all 7,000 were given asylum in the US, that would come to 140 people per state. Surely we could absorb that number. Especially since they are fleeing violence and/or seeking a better life for their families, just as my grandparents did (and yours as well, most likely).

But here’s the thing. 7,000 will never be given asylum in this country, even in a more politically friendly atmosphere. More like a couple hundred at most. If that. You know how I know? Because these caravans have been happening FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS.

Yup. Years. Matter of fact, the last one happened just last April. There was also one in April of 2017. You know why you’ve forgotten about it, even though Trump predictably freaked out back then as well? Because, of the over a thousand people who participated that time, only 108 sought asylum in the US, and of those, more than half were immediately denied. So the world did not come to an end.

This particular caravan just happened to be timed badly enough to be twisted into a conservative talking point prior to the mid term elections, at a time when the republicans are terrified that they will lose congressional power.

Here are some other things you need to know, according to Politifact.

  • Trump tweeted that “unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with this group, but even he had to finally admit that there is ZERO evidence of that. The fact that he would even say that should show you what his motivations are. He wants you to be afraid. And that will probably work, if you are the type that thinks that all Middle Easterners are terrorists.

  • This caravan is not using trains or buses. The photos you are probably seeing floating around Facebook are from previous caravans. Most of these people are walking, and many have toddlers in tow. They’re lucky to make 10 miles a day.

  • These immigrants are not burning the American flag, nor are they carrying the Honduran flag. They also haven’t painted any swastikas on the American flag, or defaced one in any way. (It would be rather counterproductive if they did, wouldn’t it? Think about it.)

And here’s a good point from Snopes. It’s not the Mexican government’s responsibility to make immigrant decisions for the United States. They are not our servants or our lackeys. They are their own country and can do whatever they want therein. So stop being pissed off at Mexico for not turning these people around before they become “our problem”.

Another point. And I’m drawing from an article in Wired for this personal conclusion: While many conspiracies out there are trying to say that this is some grand liberal agenda, get a grip. Why would liberals want to fire up the conservative base in such a fashion? What on earth would liberals gain?

Please use some common sense, people. Breathe. Think.

And please vote.

Migrant Caravan

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The Contradictory Metrics of Ignorance

I just came across a group on Facebook called Jewish Ritual Murder. It has 1057 likes. Its sole purpose is to perpetuate false stories that promote the myth of the Jewish blood libel. There’s an insane belief out there that Jews ritually murder Christians and use their blood for any number of nefarious purposes. This fiction has been used for centuries to justify violence against Jews. It has even been known to decimate entire communities. I’ve reported this page to Facebook. Many people have. It’s a hate crime. I hope it will be gone by the time you read this.

jewish-ritual-murder

Update: Facebook felt that this page does not violate its community standards. Please join me in reporting this if you agree with me that by perpetuating these lies it perpetuates hate.

It never ceases to amaze me that humanity seems to be becoming more ignorant with each passing day. That shouldn’t be mathematically possible. If we look at facts as a unit of measure, and assume people learn something new every day (I certainly seem to), then we as a species should be increasing in knowledge by leaps and bounds. And yet here are some more ridiculous and entirely false things a scary number of people believe:

  • Telephones cause brain cancer.
  • Humans never landed on the moon.
  • Evolution is a myth.
  • Humans once coexisted with dinosaurs or dinosaurs never existed.
  • Global climate change isn’t occurring, or if it is, it’s normal.
  • The earth is only 6,000 years old, give or take. Oh, and it’s flat.
  • The American Civil War had nothing to do with slavery or racism.
  • Benjamin Franklin was once president of the US.
  • People are gay by choice.
  • Africa is a country.
  • Blue moons are actually blue.
  • Barack Obama is a Muslim.
  • Elvis is alive.
  • The sun revolves around the earth.
  • Vaccines cause autism.

So why do we seem to buy in to all this stupidity despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Well, I have a few theories. Let’s go back to my “facts as a unit of measure” concept.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s even easier to stuff your head full of false information. That leaves you little room to focus on the facts. The best way to combat against this is to fact check everything, but most people seem to be too busy waiting for the sky to fall or the next vampire movie to come out. Another way to avoid false information is to stop watching FOX news, stop assuming the scientific method yields mere opinions, and stop believing every meme that you read.

We also need to realize that, yes, we forget things we have learned, but that does not mean we should rely on the shorthand of sound bites to fill those voids. Knowledge shouldn’t be a spectator sport. We all need to make an effort to stay informed.

We also need to fight against this idea that “intellectual” is a dirty word. We need to emphasize education, not demonize it. How can knowing more facts ever be a bad thing?

An alarming number of children in the world today have little or no access to education. When you fill the planet with that many empty heads, there’s plenty of space for ignorance to thrive. Crime, terrorism, and violence do not come from a place of intelligence. Truly educating (as opposed to indoctrinating) people can only make the world a better place.

Take in as much information as you can, but learn the difference between fact and fiction. Read, but consider the source. Don’t blindly follow your leaders. Rely on logic. Don’t slide down the slippery slope of stupidity. Use your head for something other than a hat rack.

_______________________

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“Rumors of My Death…”

Have you ever made the mistake of clicking on one of those sponsored ads on Facebook? Someone famous is dead, or has gotten remarried to someone else famous, or is crying, or has ruined his or her reputation, or has had a shocking secret revealed. When you click on it, you get an ad for something completely arbitrary, like shoes or a questionable weight loss product. Lies. Lies. Pure lies. I can’t believe that any website would be a party to that.

I’m also amazed that advertisers think this is a good idea. I mean, yes, you got me to click. Yes, I visited the site. But did I buy anything? No. I just got pissed off and left and learned my lesson. I’ll never click on one of those things again, and I’d rather die than give those people any of my hard-earned money. It doesn’t pay to infuriate and manipulate your customer base.

Or maybe it does, because I don’t see these ads dying off as quickly as they seem to want to kill off famous people. In fact, they seem to be proliferating like rodents. Please don’t encourage them, folks. We deserve better.

A delightful response to the recent internet ad hoax that implied that Betty White was dead.
A delightful response to the recent internet ad hoax that implied that Betty White was dead.

On Being Misunderstood

A few years after my high school graduation, I ran into someone I went to school with but didn’t know very well. He said, “In high school, I always thought you were a snob.” That floored me. In high school I was a lonely, troubled, insecure girl who would have given anything, anything to have more friends. If anything, I thought everyone else was better than me, not that I was better than anyone else.

Similarly, I once ran into someone I used to go to college with who assumed at the time that I was always stoned out of my mind. Huh? I was so rigidly straight-laced and such a good girl that I probably missed out on a lot of college fun. I was in my own little world, yes, but that was a defense mechanism because I was scared, out of my element, and socially awkward.

I’ve got an ex-boyfriend who likes to post on his Facebook page that I cheated on him when I never did. In retrospect I probably should have. I was that miserable. But I didn’t.

And I once worked with a woman who was convinced I was out to get her when in fact I was simply trying to figure out how to get along with someone who liked to be confrontational for no logical reason. She also thought I didn’t like her because of her race, when in fact I didn’t like her because she was crazy. Race didn’t even enter into the equation for me.

It’s exhausting, being misunderstood. It frustrates me. And once someone has the wrong idea about you in their head, it’s nearly impossible to get it out. Protesting a negative only makes you look worse. When someone says, “I don’t kick puppies,” it makes them look like the worst of puppy kickers. And yes, a puppy kicker would say that, wouldn’t he? But so would someone who is being wrongly accused.

It sure  makes you wonder, though, how many people you’ve made inaccurate assumptions about.

Calvin

Sneaky Memes

/meem/ n. [coined by analogy with `gene’, by Richard Dawkins] An idea considered as a replicator, esp. with the connotation that memes parasitize people into propagating them much as viruses do.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/meme

I’d never even heard the term meme until I got a Facebook account, but they certainly are like parasites. More and more I’ve seen people post “quotes” on Facebook that are 180 degrees out from what you’d expect a particular famous person to say, at least in public, and yet people believe these quotes because they were pasted over that person’s photograph. You’re looking right at them. You’re reading the words, so they must have said them, right? Especially if you see quotation marks in there. But speaking from experience, if you do a little bit of checking, in most cases if it doesn’t seem true, it isn’t.

 gandhi fake quote

(This will probably go viral. I’m going to hell.)

Another sneaky way to use these memes to get your point across is by using a cute photo to get people’s attention. Which of these would make you vote for Hitler? Well, hopefully neither one, but hey, that puppy is awfully cute!

cute puppy Adolfnazi destruction meme

(Puppy photo credit: http://www.fanpop.com)

And you can also twist things around to scare people away from a certain belief.

 Death meme

(Photo credit: http://www.bubblews.com)

What it boils down to, basically, is that people will believe what they want to believe, or at the very least, what they refuse to take the time to question. In this age of ever increasing paranoia, we will have to learn to be more skeptical, and, for the love of GOD, more RESPONSIBLE about what we put out there for the world to see.

The Misinformation Movement

The other day I was perusing Youtube and I came across this video called The Eyeball Collector:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdaJRJFMty8

It says in capital letters, TRUE CRIME CASE, so I was taken in for a split second. But, as I’ve written in a recent blog entry, I am a bit of a sick puppy, so surely in all my twisted web searches I’d have come across a little girl who likes to collect eyeballs. I mean, how could I have missed that? So I did a Google search, and sure enough, the ONLY hit is for this guy’s video. And not a thing on Wikipedia, either.

I decided to look into this guy’s list of other videos. A lot of “TRUE CRIME CASES” popped up. These included “The Killer Santa”, “The Spam Murders”, “The Sofa Corpse”, and “The Lesbian Bride Murder”. Actually, they’re worth a peek, because once you figure out they’re bogus, they’re kind of fun to watch. The guy’s got the kind of warped imagination that appeals to me. But what disturbs me are the comments. People actually fall for this stuff! They think they’re true. He could have advertised them as jokes, and I’d still have watched them, and I would have had much more respect for him.

The thing is, this is becoming more and more of a trend. It’s so easy to communicate with the world these days that people with questionable integrity are taking advantage of it. We saw that, in particular, with Hurricane Sandy. Some bozo decided to tell the world that the New York Stock Exchange was under 3 feet of water, and that spread quickly through Facebook and Twitter, and before all was said and done, it was even reported on CNN. If it had been true, it could have had worldwide financial implications, so spreading that kind of bs is, at best, irresponsible.

I have even found myself unintentionally participating in the misinformation movement. I once posted a link to Sokoblovsky Farms on my Facebook page. For the uninitiated, this was a really cute prank web page for a supposed miniature giraffe farm. It even had a “live” webcam of its “petite lap giraffes”.

Petite Giraffe baby

I thought it was cute and funny, but I never in a million years expected that people would BELIEVE that there are actually miniature giraffes out there. Within 24 hours, half my friends list was desperately searching for a way to own one! Good grief. I had to explain, and then I felt horrible about disappointing them. It kind of makes you wonder about the gullibility of the internet viewing public. Now if you do a search of Sokoblovsky Farms, what you find is a lot of links to people asking “Does this place really exist?” So sad.

There are generations of adults now who have lived with the internet their whole lives. I fear that that will engender in them an unhealthy level of trust in this type of media. It takes a lot of effort to double check every fact you come across, but please, at the very least, go to www.snopes.com or www.factcheck.org before spreading misinformation. Not a week goes by without my receiving some hysterical, cautionary and FALSE e-mail in my inbox, which I am able to debunk through Snopes in a matter of seconds, but when I point this out to the sender, I rarely see them sending out a follow up e-mail that says, “oops…”.

Misinformation is easy to spread. I’d like to think most of it is unintentional. But it has to originate somewhere. If you’re an originator, thanks for the laughs, but SHAME on you.