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Myths and truths - The Ex-Communicator

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September 10th, 2008

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06:28 pm - Myths and truths
Slacktivist had a really good post early this week about the Procter and Gamble myth. The myth - actually a lie - is that the Chairman of the massive American soap company Procter and Gamble went on telly and announced that he was a Satanist and that the profits of the company were dedicated to the work of Satan. Snopes fills in details here. It's been doing the rounds since the 1980s at least.

Slacktivist wonders in this post what people are thinking when they continue to pass this rumour on. Can they be so stupid as to think it is true? If they don't think it's true, why are they passing it on? When they boycott the soap, based on an obvious lie, what are their motives?

Lot of opinions in the comments, but the one which seems most convincing to me is that stories like this express strong shared feelings. In this case perhaps feelings of fear and helplessness, that big business is malevolent, and that 'out there' is a threatening place. The stories reify and externalise these inchoate feelings, and when people act on them (boycott a product) that brings emotional relief, like a ritual.

This post links in my mind to this article in today's Guardian about the strange truthy/fakey stories that are circulating about Obama. The stories about the Large Hadron Collider seem similar too.

If Obama is not elected on the basis of this mad emotional storytelling it will be dreadful.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:September 10th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)

Huh huh you said Large Hadron Collider

Yeah, it's all a big old bonding ritual in which logic and reason are actively frowned upon. Ain't pretty much everything? :-p
[User Picture]
Date:September 10th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Huh huh you said Large Hadron Collider

yeah, that sums it up
Date:September 11th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
Large Hadron Collider, yes. Obama, yes. Procter and Gamble, no. How did I miss that? Must read Slactivist post...
[User Picture]
Date:September 11th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
The P&G rumours were a big deal about twenty or thirty years ago, you might be too young to remember. Apparently they are doing the rounds again, as if they never went away. There's an evangelical marketing company called 'Amway' who have been accused of being behind it, but I don't know (mustn't go spreading counter-myths :-)
Date:September 11th, 2008 10:02 am (UTC)
Probably not only too young, but also with my nose pressed too firmly into a book into the bargain. Oh, and thank you for describing Amway as evangelical. They are like that, although my only experience of them is someone who ought to have known better attempting to bring my parents into it years ago. They were wise enough to decline.

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