The Great Moon Hoax

On this day in 1835, the New York Sun launched “The Great Moon Hoax.”

In a series of articles, writers announced that a powerful new telescope had allowed astronomers to see life on the moon. The article described vegetation, oceans, animals, bat-like creatures and sapphire temples in vivid detail. People believed it, left and right. The Sun’s circulation skyrocketed during the times.

Fake news isn’t new. Dumb chain letters existed before email. Gossip and lies are as old as humanity.

Before you repeat it, repost it, or forward it, ask yourself if what you are about to say is true. If it isn’t, it’s a lie. Take responsibility for what you share.

Here’s how you might tell:

  • Who wrote it? Does this person or organization have a known agenda or bias? Is it a satire or parody site? there an author’s name attached? Is he or she crazy?
  • What evidence is there? Look for an opportunity to go to the source. Read the original scripture, executive order, scientific publication, or tweet. Don’t assume that the summary matches the headline.
  • When was it written? Is it out of date? Does it claim that something will happen by a certain date, and it didn’t?
  • Who can help me? Can I reach out to someone who has knowledge in this area to help me sort this out?
  • What’s my bias? Am I believing this because it confirms what I already think?

And here’s the biggest question of all: does this show love of God and love of neighbor? If it doesn’t meet that standard, don’t speak, share, or post it. It’s that simple.