So, my daughter, now 10, enjoys surfing on the internet. She googled “mermaids” and came up with this article, called “Mermaids: The Body Found,” from the site christwire.org:
Several days ago I started my new campaign to teach everyone about mermaids. Much like vampires, unicorn womens and a zombies, mermaids are very real creatures that Satan made by stealing God’s DNA and mixing around with other animals. In essence, Satan was Earth’s first ‘genetist’ or ‘atheist scientist’…
What we’ve learned thus far is that Satan has been harboring mermaids for years now, secretly hiding them in an area of Earth called the Bermuda triangle. The Bermuda Triangle is an area where Satan has set up some sort of magical demon force field to hide all his genetic experiments and sinful plots behind. You’ll note that God constantly orders his angels to whip up hurricanes in that region and now we know why: God is performing preemptive strikes against Satan’s mermaid armies.
It goes on and on. She read the whole thing and then explained it all to me. It sounded so absurd; I asked her where she read this nonsense.
How would you proceed with your discussion about sites like this?
—Surfing the Web
The Back Room Guy says: There is so much misinformation out there. How is a child supposed to know that Christ Wire is a satire website? Most adults can’t even put that together. There are US congress-people out there who still think The Onion is a legitimate news source.
I think the discussion is about asking questions. Always ask “Why?” That is what we do as journalists working at a newspaper, but that should be everyone’s mindset. Always question the source; never take anything on the internet, or from some shmo’s mouth for fact unless you can corroborate it from a trusted source. It’s difficult to tell who you can trust these days. Can you trust CNN? The Buffalo News? I’m not sure. I think there are even some people who still trust that what Fox News says is the truth. With all of this information at our fingertips 24/7, it is very easy for someone to slip something by on purpose or by accident without anyone noticing, so if you’re already asking “Why?” then you’re ahead of the game.
The Gay Perspective: You can either tell your daughter that you’re not the least bit surprised because government cover-ups and conspiracies are commonplace in this day and age, which is what parents tell their children in the states of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Texas, Wyoming, and Alaska, or you can be a good Northeastern parent, laugh, point out the pseudo evidence and ask her how she can tell that the story does not use reputable sources.
Next, challenge her to Google “the Fiji mermaid,” one of the great hoaxes of showman P. T. Barnum, assure her that there is, indeed, a sucker born every minute, and advise her not become one.
Strctlu Classified says: Sounds like you can use this an opportunity to debunk any “I saw it on the internet so it must be true” thinking that she may have. Just be honest with her—perhaps she will develop a healthy sense of skepticism.
Smart Money says: Well, there is nothing wrong with having an active imagination. When she starts telling you these stories, tell her something crazy. For example, in this case I would tell my lovely daughter, “Hilda, I think it’s time I told you. We’re descended from the Merovingian people. We came from the water to rule the world.”
Then she’ll look up Merovingian and her head will explode. This could be reason #12,537 I did not have children. That I’d name my first-born “Hilda” may be reason # 17.
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