A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true by the very terms of the prophecy itself [and] due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Sociologist Robert K. Merton is credited with coining the expression and formalizing its structure and consequences.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true.
In other words, a positive or negative prophecy, strongly held belief, or delusion—declared as truth when it is actually false—may sufficiently influence people so that their reactions ultimately fulfill the once-false prophecy. (Wikipedia)
“Self-fulfilling prophecies—ideas that become reality simply because someone believes them—do not usually have strong effects. But a study shows that expectations may come to pass when many people hold the same beliefs—if those beliefs are unfavorable.” (Psychology Today)
Hitler tops Amazon in sales!
I received an article titled “Fake Controversy Alert: Hitler’s Mein Kampf Was Not A Digital Bestseller” by David Gaughran in his emailed newsletter (January 16, 2014). Here are abridged sections of the opening paragraphs:
“A juicy story broke last week, the kind that makes savvy sub-editors salivate over potential Twitter-bait headlines. It had been discovered that Hitler’s Mein Kampf was a digital bestseller, leading to a global bout of media hand-wringing and pontificating.
Hitler’s bestselling performance was first reported under the headline Kindle Fuhrer: Mein Kampf Tops Amazon Charts (January 7, 2014). Then spread like wildfire. If you look at Google, you will see pages and pages and pages of blogs, websites, and media organizations repeating the same story.”
As of 7:24 am on January 26, 2014, under “hitler mein kampf bestseller” Google lists 160,000 such sites reporting on this phenomenon. Gaughran lists several well-known websites, television stations, newspapers, and even other countries that regurgitated the news.
Except, as David noted, “The only problem with this story is that it’s not true. At all.”
He then proceeds to document his argument that, through “the perfect storm of juicy topic + speed news spreads on Twitter + lazy journalism” this fake news story/controversy was born—immediately after the story hit the media, sales of Mein Kampf multiplied tenfold—and rather quickly died.
“Now that the white hot heat of global media attention has moved onto something else, Mein Kampf is quickly heading back to where it was—selling a handful a day.”
Not everyone is duped over and over
That such a story was invented should surprise few of us. That it was picked up immediately, without the discriminating eye of a skeptic and placed on tens of thousands of websites … well, it happens all the time.
This is why so many people laugh away any attempt to use the internet as a source for facts that back up opinions or arguments. And, with events like, justifiably so—at least to those people.
Of course, not everyone is duped with regularity.
Mr. Gaughran notes that the story was run by Huffington Post, Salon, and Slate—all sites NOT given to extremism and jumping-on-the-bandwagonism, and certainly not to any of the inane/insane rumors that seem to be the daily grist of rightwing blogs and mass-emailers. (I am not addressing the print and televised media the Gaughran mentions in this piece.)
Abraham Lincoln once said that “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” That may or may not have been true in the middle of the 19th century, but it certainly isn’t so at the beginning of the 21st century!
“A viral email is a certain kind of email which rapidly propagates from person to person, generally in a word-of-mouth manner. Viral emails may arise in a number of situations, but the process is relatively simple: an individual receives an email—often of a political or humorous nature—and forwards the email to friends.
They do the same, and thus rapidly spread the email, in potentially worldwide proportion. A common commercial application for viral emails is that of the viral advertising campaign: promotional emails are specifically created so that they follow a viral propagation.” (Wikipedia)
When of a political nature, the term viral email is also understood by most of us that, said email often contains outright lies and defamation of character. That is, it is completely devoid of truth, integrity, and honest intentions.
I am on dozens of email newsletters that are of a Democratic and/or liberal and/or progressive nature, organizations that I affectionately—and with a modicum of pride—describe as “bleeding heart liberal.”
I say this to make it understood that if there are “liberal” organizations sending out mass viral emails, then I am a perfect recipient for each and every one of them, yet I have never received a liberal/leftwing viral email nor do I know of anyone else who has!
But I do receive lots of rightwing viral emails (directly and indirectly from my conservative acquaintances) and my-o-my these people know no shame.
And you know what? Every Republican voter that I know swallows every cock-and-bull piece of outright propaganda they receive, hook, line, and the proverbial sinker.
For a recent example of this mass gullibility, please click on over to another posting: “it ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble” from a couple of weeks ago.
Hence we have 55,000,000 Americans qualified to vote who believe in such obvious fabrications as trickle-down economics, welfare queens, weapons-of-mass-destruction in Iraq, that President Obama is a Muslim socialist, death panels in the Affordable Care Act, and the state of Hawaii “paying” its citizens who are on welfare more than $60,000 a year!