Internet memes have radically changed the way we communicate online, especially on social media. It usually consists of a photo or cartoon with some text making a point. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and may therefore be much more effective at communicating a message than an entire well-reasoned, evidence-based essay (especially when Twitter limits posts to 140 characters).
Memes can be very witty in explaining something odd about the world in the form of a simple joke, and make people rethink their view of society. But, although they may often contain a kernel of truth, they’re usually inaccurate in detail, and sometimes extremely misleading or just plain wrong. Continue reading “Be skeptical of quote memes! A guide”
A conversation between German pupils (translated by Leon Korteweg).
Apparently, René has a school assignment to write about freemasonry, but he is a bit lazy, so he asks his Facebook friends.
René: “Can anyone say something about the Freemasons? What they are what they do etc” Christine: “How about checking Wikipedia?” René: “Thanks Mrs Clever but [the teacher] said we couldn’t copy from Wikipedia.” Jan: “Then read it through and summarise it.” René: “Nah too much text, I already got bored at the first sentence.” Jan: “Ok then I won’t be like that for once. Freemasons are former East Germans that we’ve got the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall to thank for. Namely, they tore down the Wall with hammer and sickle. Hence the name Freemasons [Freimaurer, lit. ‘Free-Wallers’]. Today, they are a kind of secret society. In the winter, they live in the mountains and dig for Christmas bread, in the summer they bend bananas straight to conform to EU standards.” René: “Wtf? Would you be angry if I would just copypaste this from you?” Jan: “Oh no, not at all. Don’t worry.”
The Süddeutsche Zeitung (South German Times) got hold of this conversation, where Jan successfully jokingly fooled René, who ignored Christine’s and Jan’s rather good idea to read Wikipedia for basic –and generally reliable– information. The Zeitung comments: ‘We couldn’t have explained it better’, referring to Jan’s fictional summary of freemasonry.