The Internet, Critical Thinking and Mr. Rogers

I received an email from my sister that immediately got a “hmm” response from me. It was a neat little story about Lee Marvin, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers. Supposedly Lee Marvin won a Navy Cross at Iwo Jima along with Bob Keeshan (Capatian Kangaroo) and Mr. Rogers was a Navy Seal before becoming a minister and the t.v. personality that we all loved. The story just didn’t feel right.

My other sister and I were discussing it and she agreed with me. So she checked it out on Snopes. Thank goodness for Snopes.

It turns out that Lee Marvin received a Purple Heart for an injury incurred from the battle of Saipan, Captain Kangaroo was enlisted in the army but did not see any action during World War II and Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) never served in the military.

In my mind this begs two questions; why do we assume that there is any truth to these internet stories and why is there even a need for such stories? The cool thing about the internet is that it has made information so accessible, it has equally made wrong information so accessible. Now instead of having to buy a gossip magazine filled with lies we get them sent to our email accounts. Really, these were not bad stories in any way, there was nothing malicious about them as there is about so many internet untruths. But, the simple fact is that they are still untruths masquerading as facts.

As a strong supporter of Israel I see the danger when lies are treated as truth. Public opinion wants to believe what it wants to believe. Truth is irrelevant and bias is considered a point of view. Up is down and down is up.

The next time that someone sends you an email that seems vaguely suspect or that even seems interesting check it out. Do a little research, it won’t take long. Remember, if you receive an email with the header, Here’s an interesting story, chances are it really is just a story. A story, as in fiction.

I will always love Mr. Rogers, his being a Navy Seal would have made him no more or less wonderful to me. He was the star of a very sweet half hour t.v. show that brought comfort, warmth and information to my day. Wasn’t that enough?

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One response to “The Internet, Critical Thinking and Mr. Rogers

  1. The other amazing thing about these internet myths is that they just don’t die. Years can pass and you will receive a new email with the same misinformation that you already disproved years earlier. One must remain vigilant and try the best to not become a party to the spreading of fiction as truth.

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