Patterico's Pontifications

4/2/2012

April Fool’s! There Is Actually No Bill Threatening Anonymous Commentary on the Internet

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:56 am

April Fool’s! That post I published yesterday about a bill to strip section 230 protections was a hoax, and (don’t get mad!) I was part of it. Eric Turkewitz, perennial annual jokester and the brains behind the operation, explains:

Welcome to April 2nd, and that means deconstructing yesterday’s web hoax that dealt with a phony bill by Senator Joe Lieberman that would effectively ban anonymous commentary on the Internet. The bill does this by stripping away the immunity that content providers currently enjoy from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That would expose bloggers, forum owners and a panoply of others to potential liability. It played out on a dozen blogs that were all in on the joke.

How do I know it was just a joke? Do you really have to ask? If you’re just checking in to this blog for the first time you will find out by looking at this posting of mine from yesterday that this is the fifth year in a row I’ve done one of these. But since I’m now known (in the legal blogosphere) for running an annual gag, I created a new blog in February just for this purpose, to mask my identity: McIntyre v. Ohio. Prior to yesterday, the readership of that blog had been six Bulgarian spam bots and that guy Ken from Popehat. Thanks, Ken.

The new blog is dedicated to anonymous free speech, and named for the leading Supreme Court case on the subject. The idea for it popped into my brain late last year when Senator Lieberman asked Twitter to kill the Taliban feed. Obviously, the government can’t just shoot down someone’s speech rights, no matter how vile, because of that whole First Amendment thingie. This country was built on the marketplace of ideas prevailing, so the answer to political speech with which we disagree has always been “more speech.”

So the April Fool’s idea was that Lieberman would circumvent the First Amendment issue by simply stripping away the immunity that web hosts enjoy, thereby scaring the bejesus out of everyone in the private sector that is in any way involved with a web forum, and forcing people to kill controversial speech out of fear of litigation. It was called the Accountability for Free Discussion Act, or AFD, which is also the acronym for yesterday’s fun fest.

Eric has more at the link, but I wanted to highlight this one part:

But before any of you get angry at me or my co-conspirators listed below, remember this: Each of the authors participated because we feel strongly about protecting the First Amendment. (I’ve twice defended defamation claims, one in the past and one currently.) So while you may have been fooled for a few hours, or even angered, you should know that those who did the fooling are your teammates in vigilance against those that wish to encroach on our rights to speak freely. Most of the jokesters are lawyers. We get it.

I agree entirely. I would be four-square in opposition to any proposal as foolish as the one we attributed to Joe Lieberman. Holding bloggers responsible for the comments of their commenters would create a troll’s paradise in which commenters could create lawsuits for opposition blogs by leaving defamatory or otherwise actionable comments on those blogs. The response of blog owners would be to kill open comments on the Internet — a clear loss for the free and open exchange of ideas.

Yesterday I argued something a little different: that squelching anonymous speech would have a silver lining, because anonymous Internet actors spread false rumors that can hurt people and create phony controversies. I had a lot of fun writing those comments, because I knew that the entire premise of the post was based on an anonymous Internet actors (Turkewitz’s anonyblog) spreading a false rumor and thus creating a phony controversy. If you go back and re-read yesterday’s post and comment section, you will hopefully enjoy a little chuckle as I go around trying to get people to pay attention to the dangers of anonymous people spreading falsehoods on the Internet.

For those who don’t want to read a lengthy comment section, here is a brief recap. I started yesterday’s post noting that the source of the information was an anonymous blog:

According to the blog McIntyre v Ohio, an anonymous blog devoted to promoting anonymous speech, Senator Joe Lieberman has proposed stripping blog hosts of the immunity they currently enjoy from liability for things their blog commenters say.

Hint, hint! This is from further down in yesterday’s post:

You see, anonymous commenters (and bloggers) are also responsible for a lot of disinformation. And there is far too great a tendency for people to believe factual assertions by anonymous bloggers or commenters. Just because an anonymous blogger or commenter says something does not make it true. I specifically note this in part because I myself have been the victim of anonymous people making up “facts” about me. And it’s surprising how often people lap that kind of thing up.

So a revision to section 230 would be mostly bad. But given how often anonymous speech is not factual, you’re not going to find me crusading on this particular issue.

You would find me crusading on the issue . . . if the issue were real. But since it was a phony issue started by an anonymous blogger, I didn’t feel like crusading. That’s what I was trying to say.

In the comments, I elaborated on the dangers of falling for “facts” offered up by anonymous Internet entities, like here:

d in c: but them what do we do about the problem of misinformation by dishonest anonymous actors? It’s easy to say just refute it with more speech … but the problem with unsubstantiated rumors is that sometimes you don’t even know what disinformation is being spread. Trust me: when it happens to you it may give you a different perspective.

And here:

Will someone address my concern about misleading anonymous speech? Is this not a valid issue?

And here:

You sometimes find all kinds of people spreading disinformation that, if traced back to its source, turns out to be an anonymous person who is simply lying.

And here:

If you don’t think anonymous people on the Intenet manufacture “facts” to influence political discussion, you’re not paying attention.

The really scary part is how often it works without people even knowing it. Again: I have seen this firsthand.

And here:

58 comments in, I just wish one person would say: you know what? An anonymous Internet presence could totally make something up out of whole cloth, mislead people, and make fools of a large group of the electorate. And while I disagree with government intervention, I agree this is a genuine issue.

Can I get an amen on that, at least?

Writing these comments was fun, but what was especially fun was watching some of the readers “get it” — and then promptly burying their comments in moderation. Kudos go out to Dianna, Rodney Graves, JRM, Roland, Sue, and Random, all of whom guessed the joke. Random’s comment, collecting my quotes from the post about the dangers of anonymity, was an epic tipoff, and since the day was nearly over, and the collection of quotes was so well done, I decided not to moderate it. You can read it here.

Rodney Graves’s comment was cute:

Somehow, I suspect we’ll all feel a lot better about this in the morning…

As was JRM’s:

I’m slightly surprised . . . that *no one* appears to have looked at their calendar when analyzing this proposal.

Actually, several people had — I was just exercising my prerogative to disappear their comments. All the comments that I moderated out of existence have now been approved. Each contains my original note to them, followed by a note dated today saying I am releasing the comment from moderation.

There is a serious component to the argument I was making yesterday. It is actually a little frightening how easily people believe assertions by anonymous commenters on the Internet. I have been the victim of anonymous smear artists who have conducted Internet-based whisper campaigns about me, and I have seen it work on people who should know better. If yesterday’s exercise helps remind people that unsourced factual assertions by anonymous Internet entities are completely worthless, then I will have succeeded.

But the remedy is not government intervention. The remedy is more speech. In my case, the people conducting the whisper campaigns are all going to be exposed. Their reputations will suffer badly, and the weapon that will accomplish that suffering will be the best weapon of all: the truth.

So Joe Lieberman, you can take your phony proposal and go to hell!

312 Responses to “April Fool’s! There Is Actually No Bill Threatening Anonymous Commentary on the Internet”

  1. Btw, I almost didn’t take part in this hoax, because (as I told Turkewitz) I didn’t think they could pull it off. Then, when I heard the details, I thought: hey, they really thought this out. Maybe it will work after all!

    My hat’s off to Eric for his planning and preparation.

    Patterico (130ac2)

  2. This was good. I even went to the sites in question looking to see if something was weird, but I only glanced over them and moved on.

    I blame my brain. lol Too much information on the net, you can’t read and process everything! =]

    Noodles (3681c4)

  3. That wasn’t very nice.

    However it hopefully improved awareness of Section 230.

    I didn’t even consider that this was a joke. Totally fooled.

    Dustin (330eed)

  4. Aww, and here I was hoping to have a Holder lieutenant at my door.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  5. I checked to see if ObamaCare had been passed on April 1, just on the off-chance. . .

    JVW (4d72aa)

  6. The pleasure was mine. Now I’m waiting for my autographed Joe Lieberman photo to show up in the mail.

    I have a lot of confidence he will send one. Really.

    Also, I saw the Scott Jacobs posted here. And I thought it important to know that he got suckered last year also.

    i’m just sayin’.

    Eric T. (3e21d7)

  7. My paradigm for judging reality has been dashed and smashed on the ground. I go to the few sites that I do because I trust the people there to be paying attention to things I don’t have time to or know enough about.

    I am going into hiding until I can find a new foundation to stand on…

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  8. As I go off sulking and heartbroken, I’ll just say it’s too bad that all of the dishonest, manipulative, morally bankrupt news agencies and politicians don’t also say, “April Fools!!” and start telling the truth. Of course, maybe The Onion had an April Fools issue where NBC apologized for inflaming racist rhetoric and President Obama promised no more indecent gestures from a podium, at least when there is a camera recording it.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  9. Meh – it didn’t occur to me that it was April 1, but at the same time I just didn’t believe that such a law would go anywhere anyway.

    kjl291 (eb7578)

  10. Somehow I don’t think the solution to what Spike Lee did, or what Julian Assange does or what child pornographers do is more speech.

    And, if you do something like call for the assassination of public officials on the internet, I don’t think the government is going to say that the answer to that is more speech.

    And, I don’t get the joke.

    But, I do have an offbeat sense of humor.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  11. You have to admit, this is so obviously an April Fools joke in retrospect that the fools (such as me) should be blushing.

    Jeez. “Today is April fools. Here’s a prominent picture of a calendar saying APRIL 1ST I don’t feel like a gag. Let me tell you this scary story now that is totally true.”

    /facepalm

    Dustin (330eed)

  12. I would point you to consider ACTA.

    Like SOPA and PIPA, its reach would easily stomp all over internet usage of all kinds, not merely “piracy”, and be international in scope. And worse, still, the USA is fast-tracking this treaty — quietly, so as to hold down opposition until it becomes a “fait accompli”

    I’d also be particularly wary of all the “cyberbullying” laws being passed on a state level, they, too, have a considerable chilling potential on free speech.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  13. P.S., I’d also cite attention to Google Chrome’s new Multitask Mode

    Not that it’s anywhere near as serious as the political issues addressed herein.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  14. I think this was a mistake.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  15. If yesterday’s exercise helps remind people that unsourced factual assertions by anonymous Internet entities are completely worthless, then I will have succeeded.

    BTW, I would dispute the strong language of this assertion.

    They are not WORTHLESS, they are worthless UNTIL VERIFIED. Not quite the same thing, as their open assertion can call for someone to take the time and effort needed to verify (or dispute) them.

    In other words, a very strong grain of salt needs to be taken prior to actual verification by a reliable source.

    I have seen people make assertions all the time, and it has caused me to actually LOOK at the information therein for validity. Sometimes I find a factual basis, often not. But the assertion wasn’t truly worthless until I invalidated it to my satisfaction.

    IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States (8e2a3d)

  16. I should have known. I am so stupid. Especially after I started posts disappearing. I actually searched for the original bill and couldn’t find it, which I attributed to it being Sunday (!?).

    Ag80 (b0b671)

  17. Um, from Drudge…
    http://www.infowars.com/arizona-passes-sweeping-internet-censorship-bill/
    I noted in the other thread that “given the right “perfect storm” all kinds of things can become law” and this is just a Governor’s signature away from it. I wonder what her position is?

    Sue (6623c5)

  18. They are not WORTHLESS, they are worthless UNTIL VERIFIED.

    Well, at that point they would be sourced — but I understand the point that such assertions can cause readers to seek out sourcing and verification. That’s a good point and I hereby acknowledge that.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  19. Hey, is anyone genuinely angry at the gag, or if not angry, of the belief that gags like this undermine the site’s credibility or are otherwise seriously counterproductive?

    I’m always a little nervous about running a gag like this because I don’t want to alienate smart people and it can come off wrong. Tell me your thoughts.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  20. Patterico – You rawk!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  21. Not angry here, and I was totally duped. Bemused that I didn’t follow up on it, but it’s a sad state of affairs where a claim like that is so plausible that most people don’t even bother to double-check its veracity. The fact that the issue had come up in the Popehat thread helped your ruse. Also, choosing Lieberman as the (faux) source really decreased the chance that people would disbelieve you, because I feel like that’s totally the kind of thing the guy would do…

    Good lesson for me to learn, though – “trust but verify.”

    Leviticus (870be5)

  22. Always Trust But Verify Content From Patterico!

    Leviticus (870be5)

  23. I’m an easy mark for April Fools pranks, though – I never pay any attention to it. I typically don’t even remember that April 1 is April Fools Day.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  24. it’s a sad state of affairs where a claim like that is so plausible

    I agree.

    Dustin (330eed)

  25. I’m slightly surprised . . . that *no one* appears to have looked at their calendar when analyzing this proposal.

    JRM, that was a good comment. So good, in fact, that not only didn’t I understand it last night, just a moment ago I went to the anonymous blog looking to find some calendar on it pointing to April 1st — like a graphic or photo or something.

    Then I was like, “Oh!”

    Random (af94fd)

  26. There are few sources on the internet I tend to trust. Now I have a bit less faith in one I did. In this field I don’t think one should use one’s credibility to pull a prank. It’s too fragile, too hard to earn, and too easy to lose.

    Not angry but a bit disappointed. You got me. My pride’s not hurt by that as I already knew I did not have your knowledge or intelligence, that is why I had come to trust this site more than others so I was an easy mark. I just feel a bit less secure in doing that. Maybe that’s for the best. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  27. Maybe that was your point? It may be right, I just feel a bit like “You f**ked up, you trusted us!”.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  28. Tell me one actual lie Patterico said in his post or comments, Patterico?

    On the contrary. He said the truth, then proved it … with us providing the proof of his claims.

    He also reduced (a bit) the odds we’ll fall for something like that in the future.

    Random (af94fd)

  29. Sorry — last comment was directed to Machinist.

    Random (af94fd)

  30. I did not say he lied. I have the utmost faith in his honesty and honor.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  31. I am not mad at all. I am a bit peeved at myself because I sensed something wasn’t right but (because of the real life trolls) thought something was just really bothering Patterico.

    I’m also going to blame Mad Men, and Game of Thrones for being on.

    I will think of some other things to blame later also. =)

    Noodles (3681c4)

  32. Random,

    your point that Patterico did not tell an actual lie seems to be based on

    “According to the blog McIntyre v Ohio, an anonymous blog devoted to promoting anonymous speech, Senator Joe Lieberman has proposed stripping blog hosts of the immunity “

    Technically this is true, but Machinist doesn’t wish to read statements with a lawyer’s eye for plausible ‘that was technically true’.

    Personally, I don’t have to worry about this kind of hoax the rest of the year. I’ll be on my guard on future April Fools day. It’s not worth losing sleep over.

    Dustin (330eed)

  33. Hey, is anyone genuinely angry at the gag, or if not angry, of the belief that gags like this undermine the site’s credibility or are otherwise seriously counterproductive?

    I’m always a little nervous about running a gag like this because I don’t want to alienate smart people and it can come off wrong. Tell me your thoughts.

    Patterico,

    I’m not angry with you for the prank, but I am kicking myself. Instead of going with my gut and simple deduction, I instead went with the lead of other commenters who are much more knowledgeable about the law and whom I have great respect for. I was scratching my head too much over this post and felt somewhat sure it wasn’t what it appeared to be, however….

    Anyway, here is where I suspected something was up (but again, didn’t follow my own lead. Big lesson for me.)

    When I read your post, here is what made me wonder (in order):

    anonymous blog devoted to promoting anonymous speech. How could I have ignored such blunt irony?

    Reading through the McIntyre v Ohio post, I was stumped by GPO – was that a typo (GOP)? I googled GPO and saw it is the Government Printing Office, which didn’t to fit the story. And then, But a friend of mine in the GPO let me know didn’t set right because, I read through Randazza’s blog for at least an hour when I linked over there from here. I was not very familiar with him and decided to learn something. And what struck me about the above referenced ‘a friend of mine’ was, based on your praise of him as well as Google confirming his immensely respected position in the legal community, he certainly is not the type to carelessly use such a reference for such an important ‘post’. It would be directly sourced to a specific person.

    But mostly, what made doubtful was this:

    But given how often anonymous speech is not factual, you’re not going to find me crusading on this particular issue. I’m all for free speech; don’t get me wrong. But reducing the power of anonymous trolls to spread lies is no trivial matter.

    This is completely unlike you. You are a fighter who doesn’t suffer fools and in something this stifling and so dangerous to the freedom of speech we revel in, it would only further inspire you to fiercely and most publicly push back.

    Anyway, I’m kicking myself because I allowed myself to be influenced by the exceptional reputations and legal experience of others rather than going with my gut and what I observed.

    Clearly, I’m not one of the ‘smart’ people to be concerned with having alienated. Heh.

    Lesson learned.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  34. Random – did you meet Bil?

    JD (c73bec)

  35. Yeah, I get Machinist’s point, Dustin. Clearly Patterico let us reach the wrong conclusion.

    But the point is you wouldn’t have to read the post with a lawyer’s fine tooth comb. The point is we all jumped into believing a source Patterico said was anonymous and provided no details about whatsoever.

    In fact, the blog bragged about the blogger’s anonymity and then said he heart it from a guy who overheard someone.

    It was a fascinating example of human cognitive biases, in a group.

    But lawyerly parsing was not the skill needed to uncover the truth.

    Random (af94fd)

  36. Technically this is true, but Machinist doesn’t wish to read statements with a lawyer’s eye for plausible ‘that was technically true’.

    I’m glad you made this comment, it expresses what caused me to doubt myself and my own observations – I don’t have a lawyer’s eye. However, isn’t a lawyer’s eye essentially reading dispassionately and with a focus on precisely what is being said with which words, and as importantly, what isn’t being said? I understand there is technical jargon but generally speaking, shouldn’t everyone practice toward reading with the lawyer’s eye – critically, dispassionately, applying logic and reasonableness?

    I’m not a lawyer and am serious in my question.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  37. Shorter Patterico: Some anonymous guy said X. By the way, anonymous people lie all the time.

    Us: X must be true. Let’s talk about it and figure out how to solve it.

    Random (af94fd)

  38. Dude, this is so gay! Whatever!

    nk (dec503)

  39. Ironically, skepticism might have helped one find out the truth. But … and here’s where it gets weird … believing what Patterico said literally would have revealed the truth instantly.

    It was our own preconceptions that did us in.

    Random (af94fd)

  40. If yesterday’s exercise helps remind people that unsourced factual assertions by anonymous Internet entities are completely worthless, then I will have succeeded.

    Like the skittles – which actually may have a source – someone connected with the family – I’m guessing – but no explanation as to how they know.

    But even a named source with reasoning may be totally absurd, like some the global warming things or the claim by two – count ’em two – experts with supposedly impeccable credentials – sayinbg that it’s not Zimmerman’s voice yelling on the 911 tape, and so presumably is Trayvon Martin.

    It’s totally contrived and absurd. Just read the article.

    A 50-50 chance – according to someone’s own data -becomes a 0% chance, because if it was a match it should have been a 90% chance!! That’s one expert. And the expert is just relying on “human analysis based on forensic experience after listening closely to the 911 tape.”

    Groucho Marx couldn’t talk such nonsense.

    Just read the story.

    Unfortunately, the following link and story in the Orlando Sentinel posted on the web at 5:38 PM on March 31, 2012 and presumably published in the Sunday, April 1, 2012 issue of the Orlando Sentinel…

    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-31/news/os-trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman-911-20120331_1_voice-identification-expert-reasonable-scientific-certainty

    …is not an April Fool’s hoax.

    It’s just a hoax period, by Sharpton and company or whoever.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  41. Patterico,

    Was this funny? Yes. Did it make a good point? Absolutely. But read Leviticus’ comment #23 and tell me why this didn’t hurt your brand.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  42. Patterico, I don’t think it was very smart, to be honest. Especially given how the anonymous types have attacked your honesty in the past.

    I’m not saying this because you “got” me. I tend to trust political commentary here.

    I think you got your point across, but I hope that the prank isn’t counterproductive, when it comes to the anonymous types who denigrate your name and efforts.

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  43. DRJ,

    I asked Patterico this morning over at the original post, Does this nullify Always Trust Content from Patterico?

    He responded:

    Trust content from Patterico from April 2 to March 31.
    Comment by Patterico — 4/2/2012 @ 10:59 am

    Dana (4eca6e)

  44. Machinist, DRJ, and Simon,

    Your thoughts are important to me and I will keep them in mind in the future.

    I can’t guarantee I won’t do another April Fool’s prank. But it’s this kind of reaction I worried about, a little.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  45. It was Random’s post with the collection of quotes that alerted me this might be a prank. I saw this earlier today and was not going to comment, but Patterico requested feedback. I am not complaining, just explaining why I did not think this was a good idea.

    Dana, I would respectfully question if we should look at truth as a lawyer does. I think, as an ignorant layman, that truth to a lawyer is what he can get a jury to believe or how he can spin the law to read for a judge. That is a professional tool but it is not a scientist’s meaning of truth or my meaning of truth.

    Patterico is right that unsourced rumors are unreliable but it was my confidence in Patterico that led me to think these were credible or he would not have posted them. I do not have the training, resources, or contacts to vet these but I trusted he knew more than I did and I have come to trust content at Patterico’s. So I’m a fool. I’ll get over it.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  46. A good April Fool’s hoax should give itself away.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  47. I actually think it’s kind of cool that Leviticus quoted (or at least paraphrased) Ronald Reagan. You never know what may happen if Levi continues to hang around here with us long enough!

    elissa (6b21af)

  48. I’m a slow typist and did not see your post #45.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  49. I would not EVER compare Leviticus to Levi.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  50. @ Machinist,

    Dana, I would respectfully question if we should look at truth as a lawyer does. I think, as an ignorant layman, that truth to a lawyer is what he can get a jury to believe or how he can spin the law to read for a judge. That is a professional tool but it is not a scientist’s meaning of truth or my meaning of truth.

    Thanks for responding…it felt like an empty room.

    Your comment goes back to my original question: what is a lawyer’s eye? Perhaps I incorrectly defined it… regardless, I believe we should train ourselves to read critically, dispassionately, analytically, applying logic and reasonableness. If that is not a lawyer’s eye, then so be it. But that is how I approach reading pretty much anything.

    I would also think truth speaks for itself. Perhaps the lawyer’s task is to use truth to their advantage with regard to a client and/or to convince others, but to me the layperson, truth speaks for itself and is dealt with accordingly.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  51. sorry–wasn’t meaning to compare anybody–I just used “Levi” as a shortened term rather than typing out Leviticus a 2nd time.

    elissa (6b21af)

  52. What Machinist said. I put myself out there a lot more than usual because I found it interesting.

    I trusted Patterico, so he made made his point very well.

    I should not have been a fool, but I still don’t like being made a fool.

    Ag80 (b0b671)

  53. Again, Patterico, your place and your rules. But closer to my own field, if I had a blog, and posted this:

    http://www.npr.org/2012/04/01/149804404/n-y-preschool-starts-dna-testing-for-admission

    Folks who don’t follow DNA work or genetics would think it’s possible, and in fact it is an April Fool’s prank that is uncomfortably close to some things we see in our society.

    Rearrange the letters in “Porsafillo,” and what do you get?

    Funny? Sure. But if people were trusting my expertise, and I wrote a long, long post explicating the details of this?

    Still, your choice. I hope that there is no blowback from the Usual Suspects.

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  54. Patterico is right that unsourced rumors are unreliable but it was my confidence in Patterico that led me to think these were credible or he would not have posted them.

    1. Patterico never vouched for the blog

    2. He pointed out over and over again that anonymous sources lie, a lot.

    3. He pointed out that people believe anonymous lies, often.

    While I understand your point of view, Machinist, I view this as more of a public service message. Certainly when Patterico says anonymous people lie about him and others believe it without evidence, I find that even easier to believe now than before.

    Now I will play Devil’s advocate, yet be truthful. I’ve always sort of opposed telling kids lies about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy since it underneath a child’s trust in their parent, and not only that, at a time the child is completely dependent on its parents for survival and love. So I do think I can relate to your point.

    But I’m not a child anymore. I’m an adult, and I welcome the demonstration in critical thinking.

    That and the laughs.

    But that said, Patterico will have to balance the feelings of all his readers.

    Random (af94fd)

  55. Comment by Dana — 4/2/2012 @ 2:41 pm

    “…regardless, I believe we should train ourselves to read critically, dispassionately, analytically, applying logic and reasonableness. If that is not a lawyer’s eye, then so be it. But that is how I approach reading pretty much anything. ”

    Admirable! I can’t disagree. I do not mean to smear lawyers and welcome correction but this seems to be the approach from my outside point of view. Many get rich doing this and certainly it is needed to defend some clients. To a scientist truth is what can be verified, tested, challenged, and repeated. Few of us can afford to apply that standard in our everyday lives but science requires it (unless you are a climate scientist who pushes man made global warming).

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  56. *undermines

    (damn iPhone autocorrect blows)

    Random (af94fd)

  57. “To a scientist truth is what can be verified, tested, challenged, and repeated. Few of us can afford to apply that standard in our everyday lives”

    Yes, but the only thing Patterico said is an AONYMOUS blog said something.

    Random (af94fd)

  58. Well, I don’t know Random, but I do know Machinist, and I don’t find his approach to anything childish. He is a thoughtful and critical thinker.

    I do know that a brand matters. And using readers to prove a point isn’t very nice, to be bluntly truthful about it.

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  59. Comment by Random — 4/2/2012 @ 2:52 pm

    A Doctor should advise you it’s wise to get a second opinion but if he tells me I or a loved one has cancer on April first to make his point I will not be amused.

    I am just glad I did not post on this elsewhere because of my untypical trust of Patterico. My credibility is not as well established.

    I do not read Patterico’s posts with the skeptical eye of a lawyer looking for weasel words. I trusted and still trust his honesty and honor. I also counted on his professionalism and credibility. As you pointed out, I was foolish to do so.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  60. We don’t have to interview the sources ourselves, but surely it behooves us to at least ask the question, “Who or what is the source for this claim?”

    At a minimum. Even for us lay people. Don’t you think so, Machinist?

    Random (af94fd)

  61. Random, I believe you will find you are not helping Patterico’s position. But by all means, continue.

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  62. 1. Patterico never vouched for the blog

    This is probably where folks disagree on their interpretation of whether this was obviously a hoax or Patterico supporting the blog’s credibility.

    atterico is right that unsourced rumors are unreliable but it was my confidence in Patterico that led me to think these were credible or he would not have posted them.

    And frankly I’ll consider the next source I’ve never heard of as likely credible if it’s linked by the few bloggers I consider in the highest tier of integrity. That’s why I don’t just randomly read blogs, but instead come to rely on a few as more helpful.

    Dustin (330eed)

  63. Well lawzy, Ms. Naffe or her ghost confabulist is promising part III of #bottomlessbarn

    I’m not sure I’m as interested in hearing any side of that story anymore as I was at first, though. I think its already established she’s full of crap.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  64. Oh good lord it was an April fools joke. Get over yourselves.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  65. No, I’m not really angry… really, I’m not…don’t worry about it…we all can take a joke…can’t we???

    But, they say truth is stranger than fiction, so what are we really in for???

    But I’m OK, I TELL YOU!!!

    You know how Eastern Orthodox churches sometimes celebrate things like Easter on different dates? Some folk likewise celebrate April Fools day on April 2nd. really, they do. ask nk, he’s Greek, he’ll tell you I’m absolutely correct.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  66. SarahW,

    Why do you find this discussion so annoying or threatening?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  67. Well fair enough, Simon Jester, that’s the other way of looking at it.

    But I don’t have any control over how nice Patterico or other people are. So the takeaway lesson for me is, “What’s the source for that claim that I’d love to believe because it matches my biases?”

    Random (af94fd)

  68. Comment by Random — 4/2/2012 @ 3:02 pm
    “but surely it behooves us to at least ask the question, “Who or what is the source for this claim?””

    That is why I would never have given this serious consideration from almost any other source but Patterico if I could not find some backup.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  69. Random, the takeaway lesson is much shorter, and is a direct repeated quote from Patterico: “Always trust content from Patterico.”

    Except when you shouldn’t.

    I understand your approach is like Diogenes. But I will bet you trust your friends.

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  70. Comment by Random — 4/2/2012 @ 3:07 pm

    I try to be particularly careful about things that match my biases. But I trusted content from Patterico more than I would from others.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  71. Random,

    Patterico could have blogged about this after-the-fact and still made the important points. Of course, it made more of an impact because he made his blog part of the story, but I’m not sure it was worth the cost.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  72. I do not read Patterico’s posts with the skeptical eye of a lawyer looking for weasel words. I trusted and still trust his honesty and honor. I also counted on his professionalism and credibility. As you pointed out, I was foolish to do so.

    Seems a little harsh given the context, but your opinion is what it is.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  73. Yes, Dustin, Patterico lent some of his authority to the hoax. That’s one of our cognitive biases. That plus believing what we’re already inclined to did the trick.

    Patterico’s point being if some dishonest blogger’s or leader’s or whomever’s followers are told a real, actual lie, they can believe it en masse. We should be aware of this, but also not be so naive as to think it couldn’t happen to us.

    Anyway, enough of taking this seriously. It was a great prank. Kudos.

    Random (af94fd)

  74. @ SarahW,

    Oh good lord it was an April fools joke. Get over yourselves.

    I learned a good lesson from mulling this over and discussing it. I discovered a weakness that I don’t like to see and resolve to not be easily swayed by others in the future. I was also surprised by my own gullibility. This may not be of any benefit to you or even matter to you, but it does to me. And it has little to do with ‘getting over’ myself. It has to do with taking an exercise and learning from it.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  75. “Oh good lord it was an April fools joke. Get over yourselves.”
    Comment by SarahW — 4/2/2012 @ 3:04 pm

    Sorry Ma’am. This was not an Onion like story but a game changing and believable move that posed a serious threat to something I am passionate about.

    Again, I would not comment about it but I was asked.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  76. Comment by Patterico — 4/2/2012 @ 3:11 pm

    My apologies. I did not mean to be harsh. It is your site and you still have my respect.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  77. Patterico could have blogged about this after-the-fact and still made the important points. Of course, it made more of an impact because he made his blog part of the story, but I’m not sure it was worth the cost.

    For me it was. Both because I found it funny and also because while, sure, I was aware academically this sort of thing can happen, it was quite another thing experiencing it … in a harmless way.

    Oh and I’m not supposed to be taking it seriously, so, “Ha ha! April fools!”

    Random (af94fd)

  78. I thought it was great. I would actually like to know how far it went. Like was there people really linking from Daily Kos?

    Noodles (3681c4)

  79. I mean, when you see that drawing of a woman that can look like an old woman or a young woman, or that hologram that can be either Marilyn Monroe or Albert Einstein, do you get upset about it?

    Because I do.

    That mustache changes my euphoric elevated physiological state right quick.

    Random (af94fd)

  80. I don’t think I am as upset as Machinist, but I think I understand his point and feelings. I likewise read posts here and comments by many of the regulars like DRJ and Stashiu3 without my usual BS filter. So, I guess it is possible for one to feel more like “being taken advantage of” than simply falling for a joke or prank.

    Someone made the point that an April Fools prank should be self-identified. Obviously that is an opinion and not an official edict, but it’s safer.

    Yes, it was an April Fools joke and not meant to be seriously misleading so it should not be a serious breech of trust, but it does catch some of us a bit off-guard. But I don’t think any sleep should be lost over it. Too many really bad things to lose sleep over.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  81. I thought it was great. I would actually like to know how far it went. Like was there people really linking from Daily Kos?

    Yep! I read that. I read it myself.

    Random (af94fd)

  82. I like that that part is true Random.

    I’d also like to note that this really doesn’t take away from anyone’s discussion of the matter (even if it was not real).

    Noodles (3681c4)

  83. Patterico’s point being if some dishonest blogger’s or leader’s or whomever’s followers are told a real, actual lie, they can believe it en masse. We should be aware of this, but also not be so naive as to think it couldn’t happen to us.

    Yeah, and you and he have a good point I suppose. I’m pretty damn susceptible to this kind of mentality that fooled me yesterday and I doubt I’ll break that habit.

    Dustin (330eed)

  84. Eew, like so gross. Get a life, dude.

    nk (dec503)

  85. This is fascinating to me on a whole bunch of levels.

    At the first (i.e. most superficial) level, it’s fascinating to me that so many intelligent, attentive people got duped by this. That makes Patterico’s point about how careful we have to be to verify claims we see online, particularly outlandish ones. Tangentially, it’s very interesting to think about the possibility that the claim made wasn’t outlandish at all, and to question what that means about our current state of political affairs.

    At a second, deeper level, it’s fascinating to see the different reactions to being duped like this, and to see Patterico’s reactions to those reactions.

    At the most fundamental level, though – continuing along the same lines as DRJ and Machinist – it is fascinating to me to think about what this says about online communities, and (more specifically) how they are so very similar to real-world [offline] communities.

    Maybe Patterico wanted to give a gentle lesson in healthy skepticism, and if that was his objective then I think he succeeded. I’m fine with that as a member of this community, and (for my own part) glad enough to have the lesson reiterated. But it’s begs the cost/benefit analysis:

    This is a community. For a lot of us, this is our only online community. For those of us that have been here for a long time, it’s a community built on good faith, civility, discourse, honor, and trust. Machinist already said it, and I’ll second it: this lesson doesn’t make me question Patterico’s commitment to any of those values, and I continue to consider him a man of the utmost thoughtfulness and integrity. But I do wonder whether or not Patterico might have overlooked the idiosyncratic good faith foundation of the community he (and DRJ, and others) have worked so hard to lead and foster, in the pursuit of a teachable moment.

    That good faith foundation – and I emphasize it’s idiosyncratic nature again, because I don’t think it’s a common thing, online or offline – operated as a countervailing force, against the relevance of the teachable moment. Patterico offered a lesson about the dangers of trusting unverified content in an anonymous setting. But coming from Patterico, it wasn’t unverified content, and it wasn’t in an anonymous setting. I think this is what DRJ’s talking about when she mentions Patterico’s brand. We’re not really “anonymous” here, those of us that value this place most. The only reason this community functions as well as it does is that we’re not anonymous; that by long and valued association, we’ve built bridges that we’re reluctant to burn.

    Along with that knowledge comes implicit trust. We were not only relying on the word of someone who weeds out untruth for a living; we were relying on the word of someone who we know and respect who (on top of that) weeds out untruth for a living.

    I guess what I’m saying is, the ultimate lesson learned from this can’t really be “don’t trust the unverified allegations of strangers,” because Patterico’s not a stranger and because he’s not a stranger we didn’t really consider this unverified. The lesson will have to be, “don’t trust the people you know just because you have a high degree of faith in them.” That can be a valuable lesson, I suppose, but A) it’s a different one, and B) there’s the chance that learning it ultimately does more harm to the community as a whole than it does good for a bunch of individuals in sum total.

    I don’t know how many Arrested Development fans there are out there, but you can only see J. Walter Weatherman’s arm get torn off so many times before the message is lost in the medium. And either way, it’s questionable parenting.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  86. And for nk’s sake, I will preemptively acknowledge that my comment above is super-gay.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  87. Hey, I’m not mad. Honest I’m not.

    I just wanna kick Ken and Patrick in the shins. Is that wrong or something? :)

    I just think Patrick needs to think long and hard about next year, lest he move me to bring out the big guns. :)

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  88. “We don’t have to interview the sources ourselves, but surely it behooves us to at least ask the question, “Who or what is the source for this claim?””

    – Random

    We did. The answer was, “Patterico.” You just don’t know what that means to us. If you stick around long enough, you probably will.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  89. Oh, Leviticus, well done.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  90. And what did Patterico say, Leviticus? He said, “According to the blog McIntyre v Ohio, an anonymous blog devoted to promoting anonymous speech….”

    Random (af94fd)

  91. Like I wrote on the other thread, taking Patterico seriously is no problem with me. And it was a good discussion on the hypothetical level.

    nk (dec503)

  92. The guy’s job is to see through bullsh*t, Random. That’s not my job, or even my hobby. I’m a very gullible person, because I have a hard time believing that people would tarnish their honor by lying. It’s one of the reasons I spent some (initial) time defending Nadia Naffe: people may have thought that I was playing a shell game, but I honestly, genuinely had a hard time believing that she would invent her allegations out of whole cloth. That’s who I am; it may change as I get older, who knows. But then Patterico did his thing, saw through a lot of bullsh*t, etc. And now I’m looking at Nadia Naffe in a different light.

    It’s vetting. He’s very good at it. I’m not naturally inclined to it. I take his word for it.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  93. And it’s only because we’ve built up a large reserve of good faith that I take his word for things so easily.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  94. For goodness sakes, dudes. He plays it straight with you most of the time. Give the man one day to make a funny. You even know what day that is! And he pranked you last year too! (Except that one was an actual lie.)

    You’re going on about this years of community and stuff. Well then you more than anybody would know that’s part of the culture.

    Are you guys cult members or blog readers? For goodness sakes, Patterico talked non-stop about skepticism the whole time.

    Do I actually have to go to Daily Kos to find some AFD-punked people who aren’t all bummed out about it?

    Random (af94fd)

  95. Patterico,

    In light of Leviticus’s rather insightful and eloquent post at 87, if there were do-overs, would this knowledge cause you to reconsider your decision to have participated? And, does it come as a surprise to you how just high the level of trust and security is your readers have in you?

    Dana (4eca6e)

  96. “The guy’s job is to see through bullsh*t, Random.”

    Well then give him one day a year off and do it yourself. That’s the point of April Fools Day.

    Random (af94fd)

  97. Are you guys cult members or blog readers?

    Not gonna lie, this made me lol.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  98. It made me laugh, too, Noodles, but I don’t mind being a Patterico.com cult member. I already have my Patterico.com T-shirt.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  99. “Well then give him one day a year off and do it yourself. That’s the point of April Fools Day.”

    – Random

    You’re missing my point. Patterico’s trying to make one of two points:

    1) Don’t trust the unverified allegations of unknown sources, or

    2) Don’t trust anything.

    If he’s trying to make the first point, he’s gone about it in a strange way because he’s not an “unknown source”; because of that (and because of the additional context that so many of us here ascribe to that), these weren’t “unverified allegations.”

    If he’s trying to make the second point, well… I don’t want to live in that world, and I’ll be very sorry if I ever have to.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  100. I’m just glad I didn’t spread it. Usually, something like this happens and I tell all my friends.

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  101. “Are you guys cult members or blog readers? For goodness sakes, Patterico talked non-stop about skepticism the whole time.”

    – Random

    This is intellectual for me, man – not visceral. I’ve already said that I’m not mad about this at all. But it’s very interesting to me – the motivation behind it, the response to it, the takeaway from it, etc. It’s too easy to act like we just can’t take a joke, because it was obviously meant as a lesson. But we can’t learn the lesson if we don’t know what it was.

    The fact that some of us might refuse to learn the lesson if it’s the wrong one should answer your question.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  102. “I don’t want to live in that world, and I’ll be very sorry if I ever have to.”

    It isn’t necessary to derive existential meaning from an April Fools joke on a blog that regularly engages in them.

    Random (af94fd)

  103. Random,

    It may have been a joke, but it was a joke with a purpose. Don’t be Jon “Clown Nose On, Clown Nose Off” Stewart.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  104. He was clearly, obviously trying to make the first point, Leviticus, not the second one.

    Patterico didn’t suddenly become an epistemological nihilist: that was not the purpose of his post.

    So you can set your mind at rest and set teh cup of hemlock down.

    Random (af94fd)

  105. Random, like you are so not cool, dude.

    nk (dec503)

  106. Leviticus, any progress on my pop quiz from the other thread?

    nk (dec503)

  107. or are otherwise seriously counterproductive

    This is obviously not a concern.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  108. Right, nk, the only cool people are those who get butthurt over an April Fools Day joke, and who write long emotional missives about how could their dear beloved leader-blogger have let them down so.

    Random (af94fd)

  109. Random,

    Is it cool to call someone’s argument “a long emotional missive” because you’ve failed to rebut it?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  110. James Wilson, I think, but I can’t find the case. I thought maybe Chisholm v. Georgia, but I didn’t see it in there.

    I’ll settle for an “A” if you’re in a dispositive mood. Never been one to put too much sway in a “+”.

    But I do remember having a great deal of admiration for James Wilson when we read Madison’s “Notes on the Convention” (not in Con Law, but elsewhere).

    Leviticus (870be5)

  111. I apologize. I now see this is a big deal. Give me a minute. I am going to relocate to the room with the floral-pink fainting couch.

    Random (af94fd)

  112. It was Justice Black on selective incorporation, and for the life of me I cannot find the case either. I can’t negotiate the stairs to my basement where I still have my casebooks. 😉

    A.

    nk (dec503)

  113. In review, all the information any of us really needed in order to rationally evaluate the situation was found in the opening paragraph of Patterico’s “section 230″ post yesterday. I do fault his execution to some degree because after a while he sort of started to egg people on to get the comments flowing.

    Nevertheless, (with all due respect to the commenters here who sincerely feel betrayed) I find the argument of “we count on Patterico, of all people on the net, to be trustworthy” to be a little bit lazy. I would submit that there are highly valued people in each of our lives whom we trust and believe in above most others. But that doesn’t mean that a boss’, or a priest’s, or a kid’s, or even a spouse’s version of events don’t need to be weighed or scrutinized for truth and reasonableness from time to time.

    I think that Patterico’s not-so-subtle April Fools reminder that we can’t *always* trust everything said by the people we want to trust is a good thing.

    elissa (6b21af)

  114. Hahahaha… why “A”? I flubbed the hell out of that.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  115. Random, maybe if you wore more black and cut your hair in a mohawk?

    nk (dec503)

  116. It’s not the holding, it’s the analysis.

    nk (dec503)

  117. “Random,

    Is it cool to call someone’s argument “a long emotional missive” because you’ve failed to rebut it?

    Comment by DRJ — 4/2/2012 @ 4:41 pm”

    You mean other and the fact that it was long and

    “If he’s trying to make the second point, well… I don’t want to live in that world, and I’ll be very sorry if I ever have to,”

    and the fact that I answered it: 1 (not 2)?

    Does anyone seriously think Patterico’s point was never to trust anything after he said OVER and over again to take anonymous sources with a grain of salt?

    Random (af94fd)

  118. nk –

    Maybe Duncan v. Louisiana?

    Leviticus (870be5)

  119. I see obvious parallels with somebody getting all butt hurt and writing long emotional comments when some here suggested taking the work of schlock doc Peter Breggin with huge grains of salt.

    I seem to remember some of that going on.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  120. I thought it was Woodrow Wilson.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  121. Random and Bill, sitting in a tree …

    JD (c73bec)

  122. I’ve had my say so I’m certainly willing to let this go. And it doesn’t change how I feel about Patterico as a person but it will change how I read his posts around April 1st!

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  123. DRJ– I have already entered a note on my calendar to not even turn on my computer next year on April 1.

    elissa (6b21af)

  124. Why do you find this discussion so annoying or threatening?

    Comment by DRJ — 4/2/2012 @ 3:07 pm

    It’s silly, is all. (At least if anger or worry about THE REPUTATION of the blog or anything is preying). I mean enjoy it for what it was, and any thing one learned about one’s own ability to be drawn in, is bonus.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  125. daleyrocks, one involves the health and welfare of 1:6 military members, their families, and large numbers of adults and increasingly children at the hands of a profession that historically has had beaucoup screw-ups and abuses … and I presented mountains of scientific evidence also. And, yes, I can write emotionally about the welfare of people.

    The other is an April Fools joke.

    You bring up one good point: cognitive biases including our deferences to authority and to the group.

    And the mass errors that causes.

    Random (af94fd)

  126. You bring up one good point: cognitive biases including our deferences to authority and to the group.

    Random – FTFY. The rest of your comment was just fatuous nonsense.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  127. It’s silly, is all. (At least if anger or worry about THE REPUTATION of the blog or anything is preying). I mean enjoy it for what it was, and any thing one learned about one’s own ability to be drawn in, is bonus

    Once again, there goes SarahW with the smart comments. I’ve noticed she does that.

    Random (af94fd)

  128. It’ll be interesting to see if Patterico weighs in on this in the comments.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  129. Well, she’ll disagree with you eventually.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  130. I already have my Patterico.com T-shirt.
    Comment by DRJ — 4/2/2012 @ 4:18 pm

    Easy for you to say. I have to rethink my tattoo!

    I like Leviticus’ analysis. Even if patterico commented that the original source was an anonymous post, having P present it for serious consideration is an imprimatur. Once it appeared to have met P’s threshold for serious consideration, it was no longer an anonymous post.

    There are times that posts seem to be semi-pointless to me. When that occurs, I assume it is because I don’t know enough law or blogging inside chat or whatever the topic is to understand why I should care. And that is based on trust built over time on issues that I know about.

    I trust my car mechanic for a number of reasons. If I took the car in on March 31st and was told on April 1st it was going to cost $2,000 to repair, and then on the 2nd when I came to pick it up found it was only $200 and “April Fools” was on the invoice, I would not be pleased. Now, that is a far more serious misstep than what happened here, but it is a difference of degree more than a difference in essence.

    For good or ill, for many p has the credibility one gives to a close friend or colleague who is trusted implicitly, rather than a disconnected blogger who is subject to close scrutiny.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  131. There’s a fourth layer of interest, Leviticus. If free speech is so important, why is it “silly” to talk about the lesson learned, the way it was taught, and the fall-out?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  132. Dana,

    As to whether I’d do it again, I’d have to think about it. If I didn’t have a lot of respect for the sources of the criticism, I’d probably discount it, because April Fool’s Day. And I did feel like there is some value in having people experience the sensation of falling for a story based on an anonymous source.

    But I can’t easily discount arguments from folks like DRJ, Machinist, or Simon. So I’ll have to ponder it.

    I would encourage Random not to be dismissive of others’ opinions. I’m glad some people came out of this possibly having a new skepticism based on stories based on anonymous sources; that was my intent, and I think intellecualizing it is different from experiencing it. But I can’t ignore the negative feedback from people I respect.

    I guess the part that felt wrong is the idea that people may think I was laughing at them. My hope was that people would not be disturbed by that because, April Fool’s. Obviously my hope was not fully realized.

    Frankly I’d be okay with people not trusting my site this one day out of the year — unless I said it’s not an April Fool’s joke, which would be dirty pool IMO if it was. Am I giving too much weight to this particular social convention?

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  133. Patterico:

    Am I giving too much weight to this particular social convention?

    I can’t answer that until you explain to me what was funny about the joke. Is it funny that Lieberman might want to take away our free speech online, or that some people believed he might? Is it funny that some people are more gullible than others?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  134. I just don’t usually participate in April Fool’s stuff is all. And like I’ve said, I don’t have any real problem with it. I meant what I said before: what I’m really interested in is an intellectual discussion of who you should or shouldn’t trust for information and analysis on the internet, and to what degree, and why. Because (again) I don’t think you necessarily made the point you intended to make.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  135. One of the reasons it was credible is certainly due to the fact that Patterico had written about it. But I find myself wondering, “What if Patterico made a mistake some time, and was taken in somehow?” (He wasn’t this time, but what if he had been?)

    I’m a regular lurker. I don’t participate regularly. But I found the discussion interesting and I took part more than usual as a result. I was not particularly upset to find the story wasn’t real, because I think it is something that may happen, given the right circumstances. So having a discussion about balancing the intricacies of rights and laws in such circumstances was not wasted time or effort, in my opinion.

    I would like to submit that the community here is part of what makes this site as reliable as it is. It is not Patterico “always” making “perfect” evaluations of stories and information (an impossibility for anyone); it is Patterico and this community discussing and parsing information and investigating and debating and drawing together ideas and concepts. Every one of you is a part of what this site does; you are each a part of what makes Patterico.com work.

    A small detail made the prank work: as someone figured it out and said so, they were moderated. But what if this was a real mistake and people identifying it weren’t moderated? As a community, Patterico.com would have taken the information apart, parsed it and rejected it as false. Personally, that is what I have come to expect here.

    So, I forgive Patterico for his part in the prank. Please, keep being the community that I have come to enjoy lurking (mostly) around. You are good people. Thanks.

    Sue (6623c5)

  136. I didn’t find it particularly funny. I am usually a trust content from Patterico, given context, and give the benefit of the doubt. I might have to read all the links before I do so now.

    JD (c73bec)

  137. “If free speech is so important, why is it “silly” to talk about the lesson learned, the way it was taught, and the fall-out?”

    – DRJ

    I think you’d have to think that this was just a joke, rather than a subtle(?) lesson, to think that discussion after the fact was necessarily shrill. I think Random thinks that this was just a joke, and not an attempt at a teachable moment.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  138. Using the trust of other people to prove a point is a delicate business.

    If I wrote a popular blog discussing science, and pushed something that I knew wasn’t correct (like the “DNA testing for preschool” fake article from NPR I referenced earlier), in order to demonstrate to my readers that they need to do more verification, and to think more about DNA technologies and society…well, I wouldn’t be surprised if those readers became irritable about about my joke/experiment.

    One could always say “Hey, don’t be childish and trust others; be tough and check your sources.” True enough. But if I as a blogger was known for repeatedly saying things like “Always trust content from…”

    Well.

    It’s an April Fools’ Joke. I get that. But I have a feeling that this experiment will be used for reasons other than Patterico intended. And will have little to do with bruised feelings among readers.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  139. “A small detail made the prank work: as someone figured it out and said so, they were moderated. But what if this was a real mistake and people identifying it weren’t moderated? As a community, Patterico.com would have taken the information apart, parsed it and rejected it as false.”

    – Sue

    That’s a really good point. Again: I’m a pretty credulous person, so I wasn’t one of the people who suspected that something was rotten in Denmark, but Sue’s absolutely right that some people did, and would’ve let the rest of us know if that hadn’t interfered with the experiment. That adds a whole other dimension to the “who do you trust on the Internet” discussion; maybe the answer is a community, over any particular person or source.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  140. To think it was just a joke would have to ignore the most so distant past history around here. Given that, it seemed to carry some of our host’s imprimatur on said topic.

    JD (c73bec)

  141. Leviticus,

    But it wasn’t just a prank, was it? It was really about the lesson, not the joke, with April Fools Day being the excuse for the prank. It’s funny and a good learning experience and maybe it’s worth it.

    I understand the concept that some things are worth putting your neck out, and I know that Patterico is willing to take more risk than I would. I’m glad he is. It reminds me of Breitbart, and we need people like that. I’m just not sure it was worth pranking his own website.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  142. That probably is the best lesson, Sue and Leviticus. That and picking the right community.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  143. “But it wasn’t just a prank, was it? It was really about the lesson, not the joke, with April Fools Day being the excuse for the prank.”

    – DRJ

    I certainly agree with you. I don’t think Random agrees with either of us is all.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  144. Okay, if it isn’t about the lesson, then what was funny about it? Wouldn’t Random have to say the funny part was seeing gullible people get punked? Is that what passes for humor here?

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  145. Sue, that’s a great point about crowdsourcing fact checking.

    Dustin (330eed)

  146. I think that’s exactly what Random thinks was funny. I don’t think that’s what Patterico intended, and I don’t think that’s what passes for humor here, but I do think that’s what Random thinks was funny. And I’m sure he thinks our reaction to this is funny, too.

    Which is fine with me.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  147. Y’all are pulling my leg, (or P’s) aren’t you.
    Suckered two days in a row. And this one isn’t even April fools and I don’t even have a fever.

    SarahW fooled twice (b0e533)

  148. Sue needs to lurk less –and contribute comments much more often, IMO.

    elissa (6b21af)

  149. “I can’t answer that until you explain to me what was funny about the joke.”

    It’s funny that starting in the first paragraph and then continuing in the post and comments he said over and over again, that, “Here’s a story from an anonymous source, and you can’t trust always anonymous sources; why, listen to my bad experiences with them …” and we didn’t see it. Not for a long while anyway, except for a few (not me) who saw it early.

    I mean, if that’s not funny to you, it’s not funny to you, but that was the humor.

    Random (d6e2ec)

  150. I have been hoping that’s the case for awhile now Sarah. =)

    Noodles (3681c4)

  151. You guys can’t see any reason we might care about this?

    Patterico’s not claiming that this was just a joke. That’s why we care about this.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  152. You don’t want to hear my theories. lol

    Noodles (3681c4)

  153. Well… okay.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  154. *

    trust ←→ always

    =

    always trust

    Random (d6e2ec)

  155. If there is a reason this was done (besides a joke) then I’d assume you’d find out at some later time.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  156. One of the reasons it was credible is certainly due to the fact that Patterico had written about it.

    So did Daily Kos bloggers and all sorts of people. No offense, but there’s nothing particularly special in Patterico in this.

    However, he — like they — had a certain status within their peer group. Also, the fact that others (both commenters and bloggers) were on board with it reduced the chance anyone would question it: the “herd instinct” for lack of a better term.

    I agree this experiment has important social science implications, but to me that’s a feature not a bug. It’s interesting to learn truths about myself and others.

    Random (d6e2ec)

  157. I’m sorry. I thought that was this:

    “There is a serious component to the argument I was making yesterday. It is actually a little frightening how easily people believe assertions by anonymous commenters on the Internet. I have been the victim of anonymous smear artists who have conducted Internet-based whisper campaigns about me, and I have seen it work on people who should know better. If yesterday’s exercise helps remind people that unsourced factual assertions by anonymous Internet entities are completely worthless, then I will have succeeded.”

    Leviticus (870be5)

  158. Sue has a good point. Left to its own devices, this community would have figured this out in an instant.

    I put my thumb on the scale by deleting all skeptical comments.

    So I have total confidence in the community to sniff out deceit.

    It’s just that I screwed with that communal ability because, well, April Fool’s.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  159. Sweet fancy Moses, this isn’t an intense psychological thriller, it was a joke, and a good one at that. Man, frikken Buzz McKillington over here…

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  160. So…in other words…we should trust content from crowdsourcing.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  161. I couldn’t respond to this all day, as I was at work. Since I became the boss, I restrict my blogging to home.

    Usually, if anyone’s going to fall for a prank, or completely miss satire, it’s me. I’m pretty sure that anyone who knows me is aware of this failing – Machinist, among others. So I thought the hints were awfully broad, because I got them.

    The social experiment – people hared off after an anonymous blog rumor which they decided to believe because of their opinion of Sen. Leiberman – was classic. It’s a fine warning to us all to have a care when our biases are confirmed.

    Patterico played fair. The clues were there. It didn’t take careful parsing; you can tell, because I got it. At comment 4 or 5, or something like it.

    Dianna (f12db5)

  162. This is interesting.

    This is more so.

    Anyone who thinks humans make decisions in a vacuum according to their moral code and intellectual standards (except maybe over a very limited range of special relevance to them) without major-league references to the authority figures and group behavior around them is seriously kidding themselves.

    I am one of the least conformist people you will ever meet, and I’m perfectly aware that I have these traits.

    Liberals tend to be somewhat aware because they view society as collective in nature. Conservatives tend not to aware because their belief in individualism clouds them to just how much their actions are influenced by others.

    That isn’t a value judgment from me. Just my analysis/opinion.

    We’re social animals with a hierarchical social structure. Patterico and a few others subtlety implied jump and we collectively asked, “How high?”

    I found it fascinating.

    But the humor wasn’t to laugh at anyone for not getting it (except me: I laughed at me when I realized I’d been following this story on numerous websites without getting it; that is the nature of a great April Fools joke … which, sure, plays off of common psychological blind spots).

    Random (d6e2ec)

  163. Sweet fancy Moses, this isn’t an intense psychological thriller, it was a joke, and a good one at that. Man, frikken Buzz McKillington over here…

    Comment by Ghost — 4/2/2012 @ 6:25 pm

    OK. That was funny.

    Random (d6e2ec)

  164. I might worry that I was taking this too seriously… if I wasn’t arguing the same side as DRJ, Machinist, Dana, MD in Philly, JD, and Simon Jester (even though he and I don’t really get along).

    Leviticus (870be5)

  165. I think DRJ, leviticus, Simon, and JD, along with others, continue to make good points.

    One being that this was not simply an April Fools joke, but also an exercise that was supposed to be instructive. I imagine it is possible to pull off both at the same time, that is what sarcastic political humor generally tries to do (but people know what it is). But in this case, the joke part was what? Tricking people into taking something serious that wasn’t true by “laundering” it through a credible source? As said earlier, the point of it originally coming from an anonymous source was lost once it had assumed the Patterico stamp of approval for serious discussion.
    I guess part of the ambivalence is knowing that many?/most? of us who took the discussion as serious would never have taken an anonymous post as valid without checking it out if it hadn’t come to us in the manner that it did, so we feel “instructed” in something we already knew and would have thought was known that we already knew. It would have been the same if it had been Karl or DRJ as well.

    I appreciate that our host is taking the discussion seriously and not just as a bunch of complaining from “spoiled-sports”. Perhaps there are people out there who need to be warned of falling for BS, but we come here because we’re tired of the BS that is prevalent elsewhere.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  166. Oh, to be in the kool kids klique. :)

    elissa (6b21af)

  167. I might worry that I was taking this too seriously… if I wasn’t arguing the same side as DRJ, Machinist, Dana, MD in Philly, JD, and Simon Jester (even though he and I don’t really get along).

    Way to think for yourself there, Leviticus.

     
    Oh, hey. I know someone was talking about most people wanting to fit in with a group on this blog, but I can’t remember who was making that point.

    Random (d6e2ec)

  168. If this is anything other than a joke I would say it is pointing our attention to people like Neal, Ron, Shuster, Olbermann, Tommy Xtopher and the other smear merchants out there.

    Personally, it makes me think of Rape Barn.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  169. by “laundering” it through a credible source

    The credible source himself said he got it from an anonymous blog about blogging anonymity. Were we even paying attention to exactly what the credible source said?

    Random (d6e2ec)

  170. elissa – I know you’re joking, but I certainly hold you in that high esteem. Only reason I didn’t add your name to my blatant Appeal to Authority List is that I’m not sure you agree with me.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  171. Sue needs to lurk less –and contribute comments much more often, IMO.
    Comment by elissa — 4/2/2012 @ 6:10 pm

    (Looks at feet and blushes) Thanks… (looks for place to hide)

    So…in other words…we should trust content from crowdsourcing.
    Comment by Simon Jester — 4/2/2012 @ 6:26 pm

    Not from all crowd sourcing, since crowds differ significantly.
    Always trust content from the crowd at Patterico.com… :-)

    Sue (6623c5)

  172. Side Note: Where do I get a Patterico.com T-shirt anyway? =]

    Noodles (3681c4)

  173. #168 – I think you might have to make one. But if you do, you could probably make a few bucks selling it to the rest of this crowd.

    Dianna (f12db5)

  174. It was just a way for me to engage in an interesting conversation after taking my daughter back to her mother, my visitation being over, and feeling alone and regretful. Loosen up, guys. Life is not an intellectual exercise.

    This blog has the best comment section on the net, and it’s a buffet not a feeding tube. Take what you like and disregard the rest, it’s up to you to find the very best.

    nk (dec503)

  175. nk, I know how you feel about your daughter, so your admonition about remembering what is important was particularly heartfelt. She has one heck of a father, I would observe.

    And that is 200% independent of politics.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  176. I know one thing the prank does.

    Reinforce my belief that what goes on at internet chat sites really isn’t worth protecting.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  177. Man… we really got two camps over this.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  178. The finger on the scales putting comments into moderation makes it worse to me.

    JD (318f81)

  179. I had a comment or two not hidden. I thought I hit the point? Oh, whatever. I was playing along.

    Dianna (f12db5)

  180. And, if I was Joe lieberman I don’t think I would be all that amused.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  181. Well, if you were Joe Lieberman you could just drown a couple puppies and feel better.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  182. =,(

    Dustin (330eed)

  183. So…you’re deliberately spreading false information and claiming that someone did something they didn’t do, in order to drive home the point that there should be little or no control over what people say and publish on the internet?

    Gotcha.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  184. Thanks, Simon, but, as I tell my daughter, a kid’s hardest job is raising her parents.

    nk (dec503)

  185. So, it’s a wrap. Whatever happened to happyfeet anyway?

    DRJ and JD, good people from completely opposite ends of the scale.

    Good night and well, you know, God Bless.

    Sirs!

    Ag80 (b0b671)

  186. happyfeet learned the order of things.

    nk (dec503)

  187. So, should anyone who wants to be trusted in life necessarily forego April Fool’s Day? Is that the lesson here?

    Because that seems kind of extreme. It really does.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  188. Question for anyone faulting me for running an April Fool’s Joke:

    Have you ever run one yourself?

    Do you regret it? Why or why not?

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  189. happyfeet was deprived of the sacred right to call Lila Rose a skank on my bandwidth.

    Truly, I am a bad blog host.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  190. So, should anyone who wants to be trusted in life necessarily forego April Fool’s Day? Is that the lesson here?

    Because that seems kind of extreme. It really does.

    Comment by Patterico — 4/2/2012 @ 8:48 pm

    Oh, hell, no.

    The problem is, your comments section (which I rarely invade, out of modesty) is used to being the smartest, most skeptical, critical and analytical in sight. They’re very, very bothered by the fact that they just hared off without applying their usual standards.

    It’s not your fault, and it’s not theirs. It’s just going to take a day or two to get over the sheer humiliation.

    The reason I know this is because I’ve been so completely fooled by satires and pranks that I’m sort of used to feeling like a total fool. I don’t think most of your commenters share that experience.

    Dianna (f12db5)

  191. I’m probably not a representative commenter; I was not fooled enough to react without going to the cited source, and the PDF was not plausible. I understand that some of the people were fooled, and they’re irritated.

    In my view, part of the lesson here is that humans are prone to confirmation bias; people get sucked into things that support their view. (If you read the PDF and were fooled, that’s confirmation bias; if this had been a pro-your-side person alleged to have done this, your nonsense detector would have been triggered.)

    Another part is…. people like pranks. You’d think the set of people who like pulling pranks and those who like being pranked would be the same, but they aren’t. In my view, April Fools on the internet is a day to distrust. If you get punked, it’s your fault. This was a good one. Smile and move on, says me, though again that’s easy for me to say since I didn’t bite the hook.

    Finally, this blog isn’t CNN. I think April Foolery is an appropriate use of the blog, but if Patterico wants to fold up due to reader annoyance, hey, it’s not wrong to listen to your customers, either.

    JRM (cd0a37)

  192. “So, should anyone who wants to be trusted in life necessarily forego April Fool’s Day? Is that the lesson here?

    Because that seems kind of extreme. It really does.”

    – Patterico

    I seriously doubt that that’s the point being made by anyone objecting to this. I think we’re just wondering what point you wanted to make.

    You said:

    There is a serious component to the argument I was making yesterday. It is actually a little frightening how easily people believe assertions by anonymous commenters on the Internet. I have been the victim of anonymous smear artists who have conducted Internet-based whisper campaigns about me, and I have seen it work on people who should know better. If yesterday’s exercise helps remind people that unsourced factual assertions by anonymous Internet entities are completely worthless, then I will have succeeded.”

    We figured as much; it makes it a little weird to see you revert to “learn to take a joke” mode.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  193. Good night.

    I thought it was a heck of a good joke.

    Dianna (f12db5)

  194. The other funny thing, for me, is to see how the people who got the prank are so quick to assume that the rest of us are just bent out of shape because we didn’t get it. I’ve admitted, like, three or four times that I didn’t get it, that I got duped, that I’m gullible as hell (as a rule), and that (in this instance, anyway) it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. You guys can believe that or not, but I don’t put too much faith in my own calculating incredulity. I didn’t even click on the link to the other blog.

    Let me try to make my point as simply as I can, Pat: you pissed off DRJ. Do you know how hard that is? She’s not exactly the type to let ego cloud a sense of humor.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  195. Perhaps those hurt felt you played fast and loose with their respect for and trust in you just to prove a point. Also, wounded pride probably comes in to play, as well. And in a public forum.

    Not unreasonable responses. Surely you considered the possibilities before making the decision to participate?

    Pranks are fun, public pranks are a different matter and probably should be given greater thought to the unintended consequences.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  196. “happyfeet was deprived of the sacred right to call Lila Rose a skank on my bandwidth.”

    – Patterico

    Nothing he hadn’t done a million billion times before, by the way.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  197. Wow, Lila Rose is hot. And pro-life too.

    I don’t know if she’s a skank, but if she ever wants to start, she can look me up. I don’t insist she stay a skank for the duration of our relationship, but it’s a good place to start.

    /sarc

    I have no reason to think she’s anything other than a fine woman, and I admire her pro-life campaigning.

    Random (7d15f0)

  198. happyfeet was deprived of the sacred right to call Lila Rose a skank on my bandwidth.

    whaaaa? Miss Lila had nothing to do with it… I just didn’t appreciate your tone.

    Done and done.

    I would never, and had never, spoken to you in the tone you used with me.

    This is because I respected you.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  199. oh my god Mr. Patterico me i am heartily sorry for having offended thee and i detest all my sins because me personally i dread the loss of heaven and also the pains of hell but most of all because i love thee

    and i want so badly to be good

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  200. I would never, and had never, spoken to you in the tone you used with me.

    This is because I respected you.

    And here I thought you told me “fuck you.”

    Respectfully, of course.

    Patterico (ce8154)

  201. I would never, and had never, spoken to you in the tone you used with me.

    — Except for when you responded to Patterico’s tone with an “eff you”. I’d call that similar.

    Icy (148f26)

  202. Whoops! Not my fight.

    Carry on . . .

    Icy (148f26)

  203. yes I did indeed

    but that was between you me and the filter

    had you never had a friend say that to you before?

    you’re welcome

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  204. I do not like April Fools Day, but then I do not like secular Christmas, Halloween, Valentines Day, or birthdays either, so who cares?

    I’ve been called a “prig”. I’ve been called worse.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  205. What, did you think you were entitled to tell me to fuck off and not have people find out? Is that it?

    Patterico (ce8154)

  206. Jeez, what a thread.

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  207. can we take this offline por favor?

    you never didn’t have my email

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  208. Good morning Mr. Jester.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  209. Insomnia never made me so blue, Machinist. But perhaps tomorrow will be a brighter day!

    Simon Jester (201a54)

  210. And good night Mr. Happyfeet.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  211. We can hope so, Sir. I myself prefer gloomy days.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  212. i’m like a squirrel gone wild like a squirrel gone wild

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  213. Wind sounds softly howl,
    Through the quiet empty hall,
    As I walk the wall.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  214. Hark, scampering feet,
    skitter through the nights debris.
    Maybe not alone?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  215. “the tone you used with me”

    My nickname in HS among my buds was “gullible”.

    The prob we have with April Fool’s jokes is the one we haz all year long, us.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  216. Don’t trust the varmints!
    Leaping through trees with full tails,
    They will steal your nuts!

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  217. can we take this offline por favor?

    you never didn’t have my email

    Except that you called Lila Rose a “skank” on my web site publicly.

    Why must I express my disapproval privately?

    Patterico (ce8154)

  218. Squirrely like Robin Williams — a one-trick pony whose one trick taint funny no mo.

    Icy (148f26)

  219. So…you’re deliberately spreading false information and claiming that someone did something they didn’t do, in order to drive home the point that there should be little or no control over what people say and publish on the internet?

    Gotcha.

    I don’t think you got anything.

    Patterico (ce8154)

  220. you don’t get any points when you express your disapproval privately

    this is a problem

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  221. If I want to set a tone for my blog it helps to do so publicly.

    Disapproving of the inappropriate use of the term “skank” is part of the tone I want to set. There is no good reason to do that in private and good reason to do it in public.

    Patterico (ce8154)

  222. I know I know I shouldn’t act this way

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  223. “For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do”

    We have a visceral reaction to those behaving as tho they are good and opposed to some preference of ours because we know that none of us are at bottom good.

    Unfortunately, opposition to the Good, whatever our suspicions, is always sick.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  224. At the risk of overdiscussing this:

    I don’t really hear people saying “no April Fool’s jokes for people who want to be trusted” so…

    …what is it about wanting to include a lesson as part of this joke that makes it offensive where a standard April Fool’s joke would not be??

    Keep in mind: the main point of the post was the joke. This wasn’t even my gag. The lesson was something I added in part to make the joke funnier: as in, once you got it, you’d think: man, he was really putting that in my face, huh?

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  225. I know I know I shouldn’t act this way

    I am reasonably confident there are female commenters who are offended when you call Lila Rose a “skank.” I think it makes for a better atmosphere for them if I object publicly. Sorry if you don’t like it but that’s my judgment.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  226. it never hurts to shoot someone an email really

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  227. #220,
    Not just female commenters.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  228. Santorum is starting to beclown himself, too. It’s sad ’cause his platform is basically good & solid.

    Icy (148f26)

  229. #219,
    I am not sure I should say anything more on this. What I said has already been taken farther than I said.

    “The lesson was something I added in part to make the joke funnier:…”

    A thought. Who do we teach lessons too?

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  230. “Each of the authors participated because we feel strongly about protecting the First Amendment.”

    I think I got it. Unless that’s another joke.

    I’m just a little bit hazy on how spreading disinformation and claiming that someone did something they didn’t do is supposed to further that goal.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  231. whaaaa? Miss Lila had nothing to do with it… I just didn’t appreciate your tone.

    Done and done.

    I would never, and had never, spoken to you in the tone you used with me.

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  232. I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee

    Icy (148f26)

  233. The President would be proud — Patterico has his teachable moment. Next up a national conversation on not checking the facts at credible sites…/sarc

    vor2 (cbf0fe)

  234. Free speech has a price.
    Give me the trouble that comes with free speech, over the fear of not speaking my mind.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  235. … a kid’s hardest job is raising her parents.
    Comment by nk — 4/2/2012 @ 7:55 pm

    There is a lot of truth in that, and I’ll be sharing that line with my kids.

    Stashiu3 (cd7afe)

  236. Stashiu3–thank you for cleaning up all the weird and annoying “business” and “english as a second language” spam that keeps avoiding the filter and has recently been getting posted on threads here. I assume it’s some sort of test because any other purpose for it is difficult to discern.

    elissa (64c8bb)

  237. I admitted to Patterico that he got me as soon as I found out. Remembering the big “circle-o-links” from last year, I couldn’t get upset. Everyone seems to have a favorite holiday that they get really into. Patterico’s seems to be April Fool’s Day and I will just try to remember that going forward.

    I understand the people who were bothered. I would suggest they think about the holiday they most enjoy and what they’ve done to celebrate. I think most people have had green beer, dressed up in red, planted flags all over the place, or otherwise gone a bit over compared to those around them depending on which holiday gets them excited.

    Given the stressors we all have, having a release one day a year doesn’t seem excessive.

    Just sayin’ 😉

    Stashiu3 (cd7afe)

  238. Comment by elissa — 4/3/2012 @ 5:15 am

    No worries. A lot has been getting through because “somebody” *looks at Patterico with a single raised brow* (something I can’t do in real-life btw) was monkeying with keywords in the filters and now Akismet is temporarily confused. I’m retraining the spam filter, but it’s going to take some time.

    It went from eating a dozen comments from real people every day to letting through a dozen spam comments a day. But I’m getting there.

    Stashiu3 (cd7afe)

  239. A sense of humor is not in being able to make a joke but, instead, in being able to take a joke.

    nk (dec503)

  240. Jokes are easy to make. The easiest, funniest, and least harmful, is non-sequitor. The hardest is slapstick. The ones I detest are the Fred Sanford, Ford Fairlane, Chris Rock nastiness of appealing to the evil nature of the audience to make fun of other people’s disabilities. A harmless prank, where no one’s pocket is picked and no one’s leg is broken, and it is up to the audience to laugh at themselves for being fooled, has risk of harm only for the jokemaker.

    I think my last April Fool’s joke was in 1L. I put up a sign in our study hall A that the class was going to be held in study hall B and a sign in study hall B that the class was going to be in study hall. About half my class fell for it, including a girl I liked and respected, and I was sorry afterward.

    nk (dec503)

  241. I saw my doctor the other day. I told him, “My foot is still very weak, what should I do?” He said, “Limp”.

    nk (dec503)

  242. sometimes when things don’t go as expected, especially when we thought it was harmless or funny, things just get awkward, as nk describes

    Back in med school I walked down the hallway in our study area and stuck my face into an open doorway to say good morning to another student at her desk. Apparently she was captivated enough by her reading not to hear me, and at my hello was startled and screamed as if she was caught taking a shower in the Bates Motel. That was awkward.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  243. This is not about being irritated at being pranked.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  244. A nasty joke can be made less nasty by self-deprecation.

    A neurosurgeon came to see me in ICU. He said, “Mr. K, I think it would be a good idea if we went in and made sure the bleed was stopped permanently”. I said, “Darn it, doctor, I need this like I need a hole in the head”.

    nk (dec503)

  245. ‘Tis not love that varies when it variation finds.

    nk (dec503)

  246. “I think it makes for a better atmosphere for them if I object publicly.”

    Oh no. I thank you for my share of the favor, but If you’re going to go invoking the protection of my gender from atmospheric disturbance as a basis for that display, as a member of said subset protected class I’m going to respond – nuh uh. A discreet email is just fine thanks.

    It was showy, I thought, and now you declare it to have been a kind of show to scare off a plague of skankery in the miasma.

    Well, a HEY CUT THAT OUT in real time is one thing but reflections on a craw-stuck irritation to an old friend – for my sake I’d rather not see the scold.

    SarahW fooled twice (b0e533)

  247. I’m just a little bit hazy on how spreading disinformation and claiming that someone did something they didn’t do is supposed to further that goal.

    Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until someone threatens to take it away.

    There are many, many people out there who are unaware of what section 230 is really about. And those that fully appreciate it and understand it were the pranksters.

    Eric T. (3e21d7)

  248. nk- Did you ask the surgeon if you would be able to play the piano after the surgery (whether or not you could play it before)?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  249. Machinist:

    As I say, the “lesson” was kind of a side benefit to make the joke more obvious/believable — I wanted to be able to put clues in there so you would have the chance to get it, but cover up the clues with a veneer of believability.

    I don’t think this crowd is really the crowd that needed the reminder (let’s not call it a lesson) because this is a sharp group. (Eric T.: did any other group have 6 people who guessed it was a prank?) But I have no other venue to make the joke.

    I hear people saying it’s not about being pranked. Again I worry about beating this to death but I suspect those same people don’t want me to do April Fool’s jokes in the future. I am overdiscussing it because I don’t dismiss good people’s opinions flippantly, but it’s also hard for me to accept the opinions because I still don’t really understand them.

    The closest I can come is to realize that every really successful April Fool’s joke is a little mean and also takes advantage of someone’s trust in you, and maybe that means nobody should ever do them. I can’t really say I agree with that because the social convention was (I thought) so well established that people should not really blame the jokester.

    But some people seem to be saying it’s not just the joke that was offensive but the greater point I was making. And I’m trying to understand what about that point is offensive in a way the joke was not.

    Even if I never understand the point, I’m fairly unlikely to do another April’s Fool joke on the blog. I don’t necessarily have to understand the negative feedback to internalize the fact that readers I respect are giving me very negative feedback. It’s not an experience I think I’m likely to want to repeat.

    But if there’s some larger lesson here I’m probably missing it. I suppose people could argue that people should never lie but that would make many human activities (fiction, certain games) impossible.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  250. For example my family has a game called Mafia which is basically a group of people trying to guess who in the group is Mafia — and people debate it, lie to each other, and vote. Some might argue we’re teaching our kids to lie, but my kids are very honest outside of that game, and they understand it’s a game. That’s how I see April Fool’s: like a game.

    So maybe someone like Leviticus can explain to me how the April Fool’s part of my post was cool, but the “larger message” part was offensive in a way that the April Fool’s part wasn’t. If that’s the argument. Also: does Leviticus think I should foreswear April Fool’s Day in the future? And does he feel the same about everyone else he knows, online or off, doing the same?

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  251. I single out Leviticus because he is sometimes willing to have these extended discussions with me when nobody else is.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  252. One more thing: if I ever write seriously on a topic and cite a single anonymous source (or multiple sources that all all trace back to such a source) without expressing skepticism, I *want* people to point that out and be skeptical.

    I’m not the only source you trust. Any source that repeats a story tracing back to a single anonymous source needs to be questioned.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  253. I would tend to not make a metaphysical realization of it, but realize people have different tastes in terms of “practical jokes”. And assuming one is doing the joke for the benefit of all, and not just the jokester, then how it is received is relevant.

    If it was me, which it is not, I would tend to do something blatantly obvious, like “Ninth Circuit Court Recants of Liberalism” Some Say Weekend Retreat at Reagan Library to Blame. Or “Erwin C. tears up his ACLU membership card!!”

    But this is all a matter of style, not substance; unless one claims that there is a difference of substance that the proposition is so absurd that it is immediately obvious something is not right.

    Back in the day, the area’s main FM rock station repeatedly played “Dead Skunk” by Louden Wainwright III, all afternoon of April 1st. The DJ would introduce various songs and dialogue about the artist, etc., as usual, but the music was “Dead Skunk” once again…
    (“A skunk crossed the road, late last night.
    It shoulda’ looked left and it shoulda’ looked right.
    It didn’t see the station wagon car,
    the skunk got squashed and there you are.
    You’ve got your dead skunk in the middle of the road
    (repeat x 2 more)
    Stinkin’ to high heaven”)

    Yup, been there, did that. Do I have grounds for litigation?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  254. Patterico – My scouts are big fans of playing Mafia around the fire on camp outs, so I follow your point there.

    We also follow the time honored tradition of telling tale tales around fire, the more believable, the better. Sometimes the tales are enhanced by enlisting people to make noises in the woods to support the storyline at appropriate moments. The purpose isn’t to single out any individual for ridicule or gullibility, but for group entertainment.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  255. Obvious not leviticus, but in your example everyone knows you are playing the game “Mafia”, but many of us were not thinking of it being April Fools day at all.

    An aside, but already in this thread, I’ll just say that feets has often said things I objected to but were deemed below the admonishment threshhold, so I am not sure where the line was that he crossed. Maybe the ranking of “vileness” of some words and phrases is dependent on individual experience, setting, etc.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  256. In my opinion this prank worked so well because it was done by Patterico.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  257. Ah, daley…April Fools’ pranks are indeed about ridicule and gullibility. We just sugar coat it and the Fool that it’s not personal. But it sure is funny to see people scared around the campfire, right?

    Simon Jester (ae4d92)

  258. “Maybe someone like Leviticus can explain to me how the April Fool’s part of my post was cool, but the “larger message” part was offensive in a way that the April Fool’s part wasn’t. If that’s the argument. Also: does Leviticus think I should foreswear April Fool’s Day in the future? And does he feel the same about everyone else he knows, online or off, doing the same?”

    – Patterico

    For me, an April Fool’s post is fine. The circular links prank last year is a good example, sending readers on a wild goose chase that ended back at square one. I don’t remember there being any strong pushback against that prank.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to separate the actual prank in this case from the larger message. I think that’s why you’re getting pushback here where you didn’t get pushback there. If I recall correctly, there wasn’t much of a message attached to the other prank – it was just a chance to see how many different hoops people would jump through before they got suspicious. Some people got it way before others did, but even the people that went through the whole series of links didn’t seem to react negatively.

    Here, there’s supposed to be a lesson, which I think you’ve already articulated (the bit I excerpted at 187); I think the pushback you’ve been getting is in objection to the implication that your method had any probative value in relation to your intended message. And, like it or not, I (and some others, I’d wager) see this more as a message than a simple prank. You’ve complained (legitimately) about this sort of thing recently, in regard to Naffe’s threats, which was the subject of the Popehat post which your prank substantively references. We see it as a message because we’ve seen it as a message before.

    For my part, I disagree with the message. I don’t think of anything that comes from you as unverified allegations from an anonymous source, so I don’t think the lesson here can be to avoid such things. I don’t think this hurts your credibility, or your “brand”, or anything like that because no one’s going to take it that seriously down the road. I don’t think this was at all “offensive.” But in the moment, it begs a disagreement as to the premises of your point about Internet epistemology (to borrow Random’s earlier phrase).

    Leviticus (870be5)

  259. I don’t think of anything that comes from you as unverified allegations from an anonymous source, so I don’t think the lesson here can be to avoid such things.

    Well, I am happy to have people consider me trustworthy, but frankly I’d rather have readers be willing to explore the underlying sources of any story, whether reported by me or anyone else. Not everyone has time to do that, but that’s why there’s crowdsourcing. So if the “serious” result of this is to cause people to explore the ultimate source for every story even if I report it, I’m good with that — and I actually think that it will *help* the brand by making the comments section even more valuable.

    If anyone really took the position that “I can’t trust Patterico because he pulled an April Fool’s gag” I think that would be silly. But I don’t really hear anyone saying that per se.

    The best explanation for the pique was one I received in email a little bit ago, which said people objected to being used as subjects in an experiment to make a point. Interesting point, and it’s probably what is bugging people, and it’s not necessarily an invalid point. But I ask for some slack since that was all ancillary to the gag, which was, in the end, just an April Fool’s gag.

    Patterico (ce8154)

  260. Patterico:

    1. I held three posts at the Mac site that said April Fools, and I believe that Daily Kos held those back also. Popehat might have done the same, but based on the readership, the numbers were relatively small. The vast majority seemed to buy it, despite the day and the un-sourced material.

    2. As to your readers not really needing the 230 reminder, don’t forget the tons of lurkers, as well as other readers who have their own blogs, as well as regular press that may read it (or read someone else linking here, etc.) The overall message remains a good one, even if your regular commenters have it already.

    3. As to your claim that you will not be doing any more April Fool’s jokes, well put! I’ve used that same gag myself.

    Eric T. (3e21d7)

  261. Leviticus has said some of my response well. Your prank last year was classic. I fell for it and was laughing at myself. Great job.

    This time you decided to teach a lesson, but there are two problems with that and a fundamental difference from last year.
    1-When in management I had to teach employees. Sometimes this meant teaching lessons, even painful or embarrassing ones. All the people I taught were there to learn. I would never go into another manager’s shop and try to teach his employees my lessons. They had not signed on to learn those lessons from me.
    2-A “lesson”, more than teaching, must have something to make it memorable, usually unpleasant. If the victim of the lesson is not agreeable or expecting the lesson than is it acceptable to impose it on them? Would you subject a stranger at a store to some lesson you thought was important to them like not leaving their purse in their cart by taking it and letting them think they had been robbed? Isn’t that an important and worthwhile lesson? What about untended children?
    The difference- Last years prank had no potential for collateral damage. The worst that could happen to even the most gullible was some personal embarrassment and even that was only known if the victim chose to share that they fell for it. This time you used your credibility to get us to believe a false story. The comments on your site were mainly embarrassing at most but what about people going to other sites and commenting about this? How do they get their credibility back? Harsh lesson, and fair enough for a class or discussion group but did your readers who trust you really sign up for such lessons by reading and trusting you?

    Play your pranks on any day you please but do you see the difference between last year’s and this year’s? Do you see why the reaction was different?

    I already said I was not angery or offended and would have said nothing had you not asked for feedback. Now you seem upset about that feedback. I am trying to explain the difference in reaction between the two years and why I think this was a bad idea. It is your site so do as you please. If I don’t like it I am not forced to come hear. It is a great site and I like and respect you.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  262. Machinist: not really upset about the feedback. As you say, I requested it. Just trying to understand it.

    Patterico (ce8154)

  263. This isn’t something I thought about until now, but I think part of my resistance to the criticism is that I try to “play fair” to some extent with these jokes — i.e. I think it’s funnier and more satisfying (and “fair” in an odd way) to include something in the post that makes it possible to guess it’s a prank.

    Last year it was the links. Maybe you wouldn’t follow them, but if you did you would eventually get it. This year it was all the warnings about anonymous sources making things up.

    So while I may not have been consciously aware of it, I think all the prattling on about anonymous sources was in part my way of giving people a chance to figure out the joke. Because just lying to people for the sake of punking them is no fun.

    Very possibly this will be my last comment on it, since it is starting to feel like beating a dead horse.

    Patterico (ce8154)

  264. I have a ten year old that I’m raising, and a 24 year old that I’m tutoring. We discussed Pontius Pilate’s question, “What is truth”? Our conclusion was that there likely is no such thing. Just perceptions commonly held.

    nk (dec503)

  265. This year it was all the warnings about anonymous sources making things up.

    Which played upon many people’s sensitivity to what you have undergone at the hands of said anonymous asshats.

    JD (47826f)

  266. Comment by nk — 4/3/2012 @ 12:37 pm

    Could not disagree more, Sir.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  267. “Which played upon many people’s sensitivity to what you have undergone at the hands of said anonymous asshats.”

    – JD

    Exactly. We weren’t looking at that and going “wait. he’s trying to tip us off to a joke.” We were looking at that and going “he actually wants us to weigh the pros and cons of Lieberman’s bill in light of the people who have taken online pot-shots at him.”

    Leviticus (870be5)

  268. I’ve been fighting reality all my life, Machinist, and unfortunately unlike James Stewart in “Harvey”, I have been losing because no six-foot rabbit ever befriended me. 😉

    And how have you been? I am an off-on visitor of Al Gore’s internets, for some time now, and I have lost touch with a lot of old friends.

    nk (dec503)

  269. JD and Leviticus,

    Yes, and to the extent I have a serious point, the exercise ought to make people *more* concerned about what has happened to me and others. And that was part of my hope.

    I hoped people would think: hmm. If I fell for an anonymous made up fact on April Fool’s Day, maybe I will take even more seriously the problem of anonymously sourced whisper campaigns. Because I have experienced firsthand how easily people fall for anonymously sourced stuff online.

    So to the extent I referenced my own situation, I was not simply trying to further the gag, but also trying to bring to life how damagingly believable anonymous bullshit can be.

    Because I saw a lot of dismissiveness of the problem in the thread: oh, liars will always be found out; you can just sue; etc. The people discounting the problem of falling for anonymous falsehoods were, right then, falling for anonymous falsehoods.

    If they are now more cognizant of the very real problem of anonymous falsehoods, that only helps my situation with the anonymous asshats. In my opinion.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  270. Gotta pick, Patterico. Funny Gag or Serious Lesson. Jon Stewart likes to go back and forth, and you are no Jon Stewart. Which is high praise, given JS’s clown nose on/clown nose off act.

    Simon Jester (ae4d92)

  271. Comment by nk — 4/3/2012 @ 1:00 pm

    I’ve been well, thank you. I have followed enough to know your plate is full. I wish you well.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  272. In this case you outed yourself, but even if you had not, you would have been outed anyway before the end of the week by several somebody elses, maybe even a Lieberman staffer.

    What worth do the incurable credulous have and why should we care about their beliefs?

    nk (dec503)

  273. I almost never accept something I see on the internet until I see it on one of the places I trust. Usually this is the first place I turn to for credible information.

    Weathers getting real here. Maybe time to shut down for awhile.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  274. Be safe, machinist.

    JD (47826f)

  275. I almost never accept something I see on the internet until I see it on one of the places I trust. Usually this is the first place I turn to for credible information.

    Weathers getting real here. Maybe time to shut down for awhile.

    Comment by Machinist — 4/3/2012 @ 1:19 pm

    Took me a long time to learn that, thankfully not the hard way.

    What JD said, Machinist.

    nk (dec503)

  276. An anonymous internet source said Tuesday that Tom E. Xtopher is flabbergasted by the April Fool’s comment thread at Patterico.com.

    The anonymous internet source quoted Mr. Xtopher as saying “Look, I don’t agree with Patterico’s political views, but in this case he deserves some credit. Patterico was fearless in shining the light on Joe Lieberman’s sinister plans.”.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  277. “The people discounting the problem of falling for anonymous falsehoods were, right then, falling for anonymous falsehoods.”

    – Patterico

    Except we weren’t falling for “anonymous” falsehoods; we were falling for falsehoods from someone we trust by long experience.

    Do you think people would have fallen for this prank in any other setting? Actually, I might have (again: gullible), but I can pretty much guarantee most of the people who did fall for it wouldn’t have fallen for it if it had been coming from anyone but you. And I can definitely guarantee that we all would’ve been vetting like crazy if you’d pointed us to a fake website making spurious allegations against you, because we’re sensitive to the fact that you’ve been the victim of that kind of thing before.

    So unless you’re planning on slandering yourself, I think your concerns might be misplaced.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  278. Simon: it was a joke that had a serious component to it. I don’t have to choose because it was both.

    And Leviticus: I didn’t vouch for the anonymous site and I think people are exaggerating the extent to which I did. In a normal situation I will explicitly note my own skepticism in a situation where the source is anonymous. But if I don’t do that, and I say the source is anonymous, and I say anonymous sources lie, I think it’s not wise for readers to assume I have independently vetted the claim. I don’t want that responsibility and I think comments will be better if people don’t assume I have assumed that responsibility.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  279. Everyone in tornado country: be safe.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  280. Oh God, I see what machinist meant. Drudge has coverage of some really bad stuff brewing in Texas. Hope all our friends in the Lone Star state stay safe. And I hope when they are able to safely do so they’ll individually check back in with us to let us know.

    elissa (974993)

  281. “All I know is that I know nothing.” That is the only truth.

    nk (dec503)

  282. Comment by Noodles — 4/3/2012 @ 1:46 pm

    Bwaahahahahahahaha

    SarahW (b0e533)

  283. “I don’t want that responsibility and I think comments will be better if people don’t assume I have assumed that responsibility.”

    – Patterico

    That can certainly be the takeaway for us going forward, but you should realize that a lot of us have fallen into the habit of assuming that anything you put forth has been properly fisked (because this has traditionally been a blog dedicated to fisking). Your name has come to function as a stamp of approval, whether you like it or not.

    It’s fair for you to tell us to do our own homework. But then “Always Trust Content From Patterico” loses some of its power; certainly not because we start distrusting you, but because we start relying on our own independent fisking.

    Again, I think that’s fine. Probably a great responsibility for me to assume, honestly.

    Leviticus (870be5)

  284. /snark/
    Never trust a lawyer, especially one that can put you away for long periods of time.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  285. Hey, it was April fools day.

    On that day, no story – no minor story anway- is is to be taken at face value, especially one that gets ya’ goin’, unless the author explicitly denies it is a joke. (e.g. “though it seems like a bad April fool’s gag, sadly it is not..”)

    I still think you all are having me on right now with this discussion really.

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S REAL ANYMORE!

    SarahW (b0e533)

  286. I trust my collection of commenters more than I trust myself, generally.

    That’s one reason I am having second thoughts about this gag even though when I look at it on my own it seems unobjectionable.

    I’m not a top-down type of blogger; all my best work is based on tips.

    Patterico (1e48f9)

  287. Thanks for the concern. Just rumbling and flashing now.

    Machinist (b6f7da)

  288. Aw. fake story day comes but once a year.

    SarahW (b0e533)

  289. The fun part of April 1st, is to see who gets taken in by what, and whom.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  290. Well one thing’s for sure and I didn’t see it coming: my respect for the relative hardiness of Daily Kos commenters has increased by leaps and bounds.

    Random (de9896)

  291. Oh you two need to kiss and make up.

    Hell I am a female commenter and some dude calling himself “happy feet” with Pika Chu as a logo calling women all sorts of things was–just something you get use to glossing over on the internet.

    I’m sure happy feet can restrain himself in that area from here on out.

    that includes the ‘hooch-mama” refrain.

    That got to be tedious in it’s predictability which made it offensive on another level-as in-boring.

    madawaskan (89a442)

  292. Oops I meant to type-

    “hoochie mama”.

    Hell without “happy feet” someone here would not have been inspired to call him a saffron sniffing cupcake eater–or words to that effect.

    madawaskan (89a442)

  293. You guys are a bunch of drama queens though-cripes you all give soap operas a run for their money.

    madawaskan (89a442)

  294. “But it sure is funny to see people scared around the campfire, right?”

    Simon – Yes, yes it is. I’m thinking of spinning a human organ thief ring yarn on the next outing. Bad economy, unemployment. People just disappear. Black market for transplant organs. Bodies discovered sans livers, hearts and kidneys in isolated graves in state parks. Big bucks to be made. I could probably find a few articles about black market transplant market on the intertubes to bolster the truthiness.

    Scare the bejesus out of the lads.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  295. sometimes when we touch it’s the honesty what is too much I think

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  296. daley- that is pretty scary, and I know normally trustworthy people a number of years ago that forwarded email stories of people waking up in a bathtub of ice with a note that said to the effect, “Go to the hospital, we have your kidneys”.
    Now while I didn’t believe that, I have seen and read that political prisoners in China have been “volunteered” as organ donors. Since China has been responsible for millions of deaths of its own for less reason, I can’t say I would be surprised.
    There was a news blurb here in Philly more than a few years ago about a murder victim being found with organs removed, I heard it myself on the radio. But I only heard one mention of it and nothing more.

    nk- i think it is very reasonable to discuss the limitations of humans knowing “truth”, but to say there is no “truth” is a bit to me like saying, “There is no objective reality”. The implications of there being no objective reality are a bit hard for me to think about, or want to think about.

    Besides, as our host would say, Pilate had a motive for questioning the existence of “Truth”, as in not wanting to fess up to the responsibility of what he was about to do. Motive alone proves nothing, but it can often explain a lot.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  297. I believe Pilate’s question was sincere — he was a Stoic and they were notorious for questions like that. But, yes, he knew what he was doing was wrong not only in torturing and crucifying Christ but in oppressing a whole people in the service of two demented perverts, Tiberius and Herod. It could be a cautionary tale out of Genesis about cowardice and self-seeking. He was not from the nobiles, he was an equites, and he owed his position from having married a Claudia, Tiberius’ real gens. He did not want to lose that.

    nk (dec503)

  298. “You guys are a bunch of drama queens…”

    Actually, I’m a drama princess.

    I haven’t been promoted to queen yet.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  299. “There was a news blurb here in Philly more than a few years ago about a murder victim being found with organs removed, I heard it myself on the radio. But I only heard one mention of it and nothing more.”

    MD in Philly – Exactly. If challenged, I can pull out news stories from a pocket and say look at these! Add up the black market price of two kidneys, a liver and a heart, from an internet story to show the lads how much somebody can make per body versus the risk of getting caught. I’m liking the spin more the more I think about it, especially since there’s another adult leader who is doctor who will back my story.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  300. ’till the fear in me

    subsides

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  301. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/now-kiss

    ( extra http killed my link)

    Sarahw (b0e533)

  302. OK, Sarah. You have now, officially, scared the heck out of me, because 1) I know the lyrics to that song; and 2) you (and happyfeet) have implanted the earworm.

    Was that kind? Was that called for? Was that necessary?

    Dianna (f12db5)

  303. Considering how easy Patterico and happyfeet have gotten off, may I be a racist?

    nk (dec503)

  304. There’s a story from Spain that the assassin of Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djinjic, was killed, cooked and eaten, by his Serbian Mafia buddies for stealing from them. I believe it because I want to.

    nk (dec503)

  305. Truth? Bwahaha!

    nk (dec503)

  306. 283.“All I know is that I know nothing.” That is the only truth.

    Comment by nk — 4/3/2012 @ 2:54 pm

    Perhaps it is in the nature of language that it is not a good instrument (only the most useful we have) for describing the truth. Words are clumsy things, with big holes inside and between their meanings. Building up toward truth can be like trying to build a skyscraper by piling up furniture.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t see the truth. “A picture tells a thousand words” can be a radical understatement.

    Roland (5ff18d)

  307. Numerous other folks might be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

    That sounds like a bit of a backhand compliment to me.. :)

    SarahW (b0e533)

  308. An interesting flurry of comments there, #’s 306, 310, 312-14. Does anyone know an explanation?

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  309. I’m gonna watch out for Brussels, too.

    Leviticus (0f9f7a)

  310. Generally I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great article.

    trade show booth construction (b4e4a7)


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