I was reading this page on Snopes about one more intriguing but hoaxy photo that gets circulated by email, and wondering about lying. This photo is now being attributed to the crew of the doomed space shuttle Columbia on its last flight. Before then, it was described as a satellite photograph. (It is, in fact, probably a composite of satellite images.)
Why did someone, after the Columbia disaster, change the email description to include the Columbia?
This was a deliberate lie. The email had not come to that person with that description. He made a conscious decision to lie. Why? What did he have to gain?
Email hoaxes, which are common, often include a false attribution of origin. For example, the famous stolen UPS uniforms hoax (which a highly placed person at my place of employment sent around a few months ago) includes the signature block of a 'Kimberly Bush-Carr', supposedly a Homeland Security executive. No such person sent the memo. No such person even exists.
I suppose in the latter case the person sending the email is trying to give it an 'official' flavor, to make it seem authoritative. The one sending it thinks that he isn't authoritative enough, no one will listen to him, so he purloins the authority of someone whose title sounds more impressive. I wonder what is going through that person's mind? He knows he is lying. Is he saying to himself that he is serving a greater good, that the end justifies the means?
But what about the schmuck sending around the sat photo collage? What possible excuse can he have for his lie? That attributing the photo to the Columbia makes a better story? Does it occur to him that he is valuing drama more than truth? Does it occur to him that he is inserting a falsehood, false knowledge about a tiny bit of the world, into minds of everyone who reads the email? A minute falsehood, true, but a tiny drop of poison in the human race's knowledge base.
I find this puzzling. I often try to understand the actions of others by looking at myself, and trying put put myself in their shoes, feel what they are feeling, and imagine how I might act. I am often shocked to find affinities of even the most appalling behavior of others, in myself.
But not this: creating a lie about the origin of the satellite photo collage. I cannot imagine deliberately lying about such a thing. I cannot imagine it even occurring to me to do so. I cannot imagine the mind of someone who would do it.
I find certain kinds of lies very puzzling and mysterious.
== meneki == (noun) immunity, immunization
|Upper/outer radical is 'illness'. Lower/inner radical is 'strike' (lower element is one of the radical versions of 'hand', upper element is 'axe'). Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Epidemic is illness that strikes.'|