One TV show that was an unexpected hit for us last year was fake or fortune, the premise is simple, somebody has a work of art that they think might be a undiscovered or lost master, Fiona Bruce then enlists a plethora of experts to try to find out if it is in fact a masterpiece which will set up its rather excited owner for life.
The show culminates to the climax where the evidence gathered is presented to a expert or group of experts who hold the final say whether the painting is indeed by the artist or a good forgery, Ok I admit part of the fun is seeing the look on the expectant owners face if the picture is indeed rejected, I am not proud of myself for that but there you go. One fella spent £600,000 on a painting which turned out to be fake, the picture may not have been priceless but the look on his face was!
The key to the painting being excepted is the discovery of provenance placing the picture in the right place at the right time to link it up with the artist is gold dust on the show. To prove the origin is vital.
Which brings me to the title of this blog, lately the amount of false stories on the internet has been ramped up as a government minister would say, we have seen n increase in weird and wonderful conspiracy theories and just out and out malicious fake news, a lot of it to spread fear and anxiety. Unfortunately too many of these are passed on by worried friends and relatives clogging up messenger and Facebook.
However I noticed two this week which were a little more subtle. The first involved a donkey, a donkey being carried by a soldier across a minefield, along with the picture was a detailed explanation, it wasn’t apparently what it first appeared to be, the caring soldier taking pity on the donkey no this was far more strategic, The reason the soldier was carrying the donkey is because if the donkey was left to his own devises running free it would explode the mines in the field which would endanger the other soldiers crossing the minefield.
Of course it made sense once it was explained and served as a reminder that in theses times we need to follow the guidance of the government to self isolate and stay at home and if we do so we carry the donkeys that don’t follow the instructions currently.
There was only one problem, the photo was exactly what it looked like, a soldier ( in this case from the French Foreign legion) taking pity on a donkey and carrying him over a minefield, the elaborate story was exactly that, a story the key fact was the provenance.
Which brings us to the second story, this time a prophesy shared by the then pastor of one of the greatest churches in America, Times square church is a icon and the pastor there was a true great in 20th century Christianity, if you have never heard of the cross and the switchblade. Google it now, David Wilkinson was a man who stood up bravely to the gang culture of New York and founded a quite amazing work, not only the church but the teen challenge movement he built are an amazing legacy that he has left (you can tell can’t you I am a fan).
So when a prophecy that he gave in 1985 came to light which told of a virus enveloping the world and striking at the heart of New York and a following Spiritual revival everyone was quite excited, many Christians began reposting including some quite influential church leaders.
However the one vital component was again missing, you guessed it Provenance. So it was For the David Wilkinson foundation and his relatives to pour cold water on this, as lovely as the prophesy was and it certainly brought hope in these dark times it was false, made up, not true.
So why were we so keen to share these false stories, perhaps because they fit perfectly with our worldview, we agree with them so we share them without checking first the origin and the authenticity. They sound plausible and resonate with us so we share without checking first the provenance.
So perhaps it’s time to think before we share or hit repost. Even if it reinforces our worldview is it correct, can we prove the provenance. If not perhaps best to wait.