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The reports of my death...


BIBLE VERSE FOR THOUGHT

Then the Lord said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?". The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate".

Genesis 3:13, ESV


Fake news isn't a recent phenomenon. For those of us with a biblical worldview, it is the original sin. God had explained to Adam, in the Garden of Eden, "You may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not et, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2: 16, ESV). Of course, the Adversary twisted what God had said, assured Eve that they would not die, and you know the rest. His purpose was to deceive. And, he did it. Adam and Eve doubted God and the perfect world which God had created for them was no more.


You don't have to look all that far or to discover fake news in the annuls of world history. There are more incidents than I ever imagined and they began long before the advent of information technology. The occasion that came to mind when I thought of fake news occurred in 1897. Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, toured Europe in 1895 to promote his books and raise funds. While in London a Clemens cousin, James Ross Clemens became gravely ill. The rumor mill gave this truth a twist and attributed the illness and eventual death to Samuel. Frank Marshall White, a London correspondent for the New York Journal contacted Clemens about his health. Clemens response has been the fodder for much fake news. It was reported that Clemens wrote, "The reports of my death have been greatly (grossly) exaggerated". The actual quote was, "The report of my death was an exaggeration". You know, fake news old style.


Google "history of fake news" and take a survey of the 1,260,000,000 possibilities. I read a few of them and was blown away by the number of incidents spreading so far across human history. At the same time the leanings of authors and organizations was instantly obvious. The items they selected for consideration revealed much about their political, social, cultural, and religious stances. One that seemed most balanced and informative, without too much technical language or political sway was an article titled The Long and Brutal History of Fake News by Jacob Soll, Politico Magazine, December 18, 2016. If you'd like to read the article click here.


Most of the commentators noted two recent catalysts for the substantial increases in reported cases of fake news over the last few decades. Up front, of course, is the prevalence of social media among the general population. Suddenly FaceBook is the leading purveyor of news for our friends and neighbors. And, two, most of the articles identified the 2016 election cycle as the launchpad of the fake news avalanche covering our nation and world. The prevailing political parties and candidates are discovering new and revolutionary ways to lure voters to their cause. And, we're ever ready to take it in and follow it.


So, it's nothing new. The difference now is that news is instantly available and can be communicated to millions with the touch of a button. Which returns me to the Garden of Eden. Human nature remains unchanged since Satan deceived Eve with fake news. It reminds me of something my first grade teacher told my mother in 1955. She said, "Sonny doesn't always know what we're having for lunch each day. But, he's always working to be first in line". Like me, many of us want to be the first to share notable news with the people in our circle of influence. Trouble is, that news isn't always real. Remember Solomon's counsel---"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity" (Proverbs 11:3, ESV).


You see, the reports of...whatever...are often an exaggeration.


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