Reading time: 3 minutes

People believe the craziest things — despite being proven wrong.

by JERRY SILVER // Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Digital PR specialist and CEO at Spin Factory

15 years in PR has taught me a thing or two about spin.

Unfortunately, people tend to believe in whatever version of a story that benefits themselves the most — or the version that’s coherent with their existing view of the world1 (they are often one and the same). Evidence and facts tend to have little effect on those who have made up their minds. It’s often enough to sway people by casting enough doubt on the truth. Especially if the truth is somehow inconvenient.

It’s often enough to sway people by casting enough doubt on the truth — especially if the truth is somehow inconvenient.

Here’s how:

What if Napoleon was a Sun Myth?

The French author Rupert Furneaux demonstrated how to cast doubt on the existence of Napoleon Buonaparte, one of the most famous characters in history:

1.

The name Napoleon is just a variation of Apoleon or Apollo, and as God of the Sun, he was named Buonaparte, which means “the good part of the day” (when the sun shines).

2.

Just as Apollo was born on the Mediterranean island Delos, Napoleon was born on the Mediterranean island Corsica.

3.

Napoleon’s mother Letitia can be identified as Leto, Apollo’s mother. Both names mean joy and happiness, signaling the sun keeping the night at bay.

4.

Letitia had three daughters — as did Leto, Apollo’s mother.

5.

Napoleon’s four brothers represent the four seasons. Three of his brothers became kings, except for one brother who became Prince of Canino (derived from ‘cani,’ white, winter, aging).

6.

Napoleon was driven out of France by Northern armies, as Appolo, the Sun God, was driven away by the North Wind.

7.

Napoleon had two wives, as did Apollo. They represent the Earth and the Moon. Apollo never had any children with the Moon, but the Earth gave him a son, representing the fertilization of all green plants on Earth. Napoleon’s son was allegedly born on the 21st of March, the equinox in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun (the Summer Solstice).

8.

Apollo saved Greece from the dragon Python, and Napoleon saved France from the horrors of revolution (derived from ‘revolvo,’ something that crawls).

9.

Napoleon’s twelve generals are symbols for the twelve creatures of the zodiac, and his four generals represent North, West, South, and East.

10.

Napoleon, the Sun Myth, always conquered in the South but was always defeated by the cold winds of the North. Like the Sun, Napoleon rose in the East — he was born on Corsica) — and dawned in the West — he died on St. Helena.

Now, don’t get any ideas; Napoleon Buonaparte is one of the most documented figures in history. There are numerous accounts of him throughout Europe. Napoleon is not a mythical figure.

Listed above are a just a few correlations. However, presenting one correlation after the other can trick us into thinking that there might be causation, too.

How the Media Strengthens the Climate Sceptics

News media thrives on its ability to attract an audience. This is problematic since humans are programmed to keep an eye out for anything that might threaten our safety, such as brewing conflict. Therefore, the news media will often allow for “the opposition” to be heard, simply to serve the audience conflict in the guise of “fairness” and “objectivity.”

In the case of the climate skeptics, they are given an unproportionate amount of airtime, even though they are few (and unsupported by the science).

How to Protect Yourself from ‘Alternative Facts’

1. Respect the Facts

There are no such thing as ‘alternative facts.’

Either something’s a fact — or it isn’t. There are different versions, different perspectives, different explanatory models, different frameworks, different philosophies. But facts are just facts.

2. Mind All Opinions

Most of what you hear authority figures say in the media are just their opinions.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but that doesn’t mean that everyone knows what they’re talking about. It doesn’t matter if the opinion belongs to an expert — it’s still just an opinion.

3. Never Assume Causality

Correlation (A happens, and B happens) is not the same thing as causality (A makes B happen).

For instance, if there’s a decrease in local crime rates, it might not have anything to do with the latest legislative measures taken by your politicians; it might just be the result of more liberal abortion laws implemented 15-20 years ago.

4. Learn About Theory

A theory is a description of reality supported by scientific evidence — and not yet falsified.

Isaac Newton’s theories of physics were supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, but never fully. Later, Albert Einstein managed to present the theories of relativity, explaining the specific instances where Newton’s theories tested false. Today, quantum physicists are hard at work trying to develop theories that explain the particular situations where Einstein’s theories might not apply.

5. Think for Yourself

Listen to the news media. Listen to experts. Listen to opinions and arguments. But don’t just listen.

When push comes to shove, it’s always up to the individual to apply critical thinking. In poker, there’s a fitting saying: “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, you are the sucker.”

Bonus tip: Make sure to check out Wikipedia’s editorial venture — Wikitribune.

Notes:

  1. See cognitive dissonance (Wikipedia).

Never miss a Doctor Spin article again?

Join 4,100+ of the best people on the planet — my SpinCTRL subscribers
(+ download 23 Tactics for Content Promotion as a signup bonus).


SUBSCRIBE

###

Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. His fascination for corporate communication and human psychology runs deep. Via his own agency Spin Factory, every day's spent on coaching people and organizations on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, journalist and television host, and their two-year-old son, Jack.

Interested in Jerry’s services or speaking engagements? Learn more.

Add your comment: