Uh.. what? Put a shoe on your head?

I was browsing 4chan, my latest net addiction, when a suggestion was made to go to a certain account hosted on blogtv.com due to the presence of overt cuties of the UK persuasion. They were responding to comments on their webcam, and one suggestion from a flood of new commenters remarked, “put a shoe on your head.” I thought this was pretty funny (and I would have done it myself without a second thought) but I was wondering about it today and decided to look it up to see whether it was actually a popular thing to suggest or if it was purely random.

Turns out, it’s actually a popular thing to suggest, just to see if the person would do it. It doesn’t necessarily imply (while some sites suggest so) poor character to obey the request, and seems to have been initially borne from the advent of live webcam ladies of lesser moral faculties as an aribtrary, non-sensual request.

The idea reminds me of reverse-scammers of the Nigerian 419 sort, whereas Nigerian scammers would actually cater to bizarre requests from people they had intended to scam, but instead their pictures of doing silly things like holding up a sign noting various self-depricating qualities were posted all over the web in a scam-the-scammer prank.

This page seems to make an account of the concept, and further notes that another site, Shoe-On-Head.com was born and presents a slideshown of Flickr searches of people doing precisely that request.

YTMND.com has also created an animation of purportedly one of the initial requests by which the idea became popular, here. Credit seems to lie with “flj” as possibly the inventor, which stands for FlyingLaserJesus. And that’s an awesome username.

Debunking Forwards: Is Snopes Unreliable?

I just received a funny email forward from both my father and grandfather, to whom I both often link to Snopes articles for debunking things. I think in this case, as I usually do, that linking to a Snopes article to debunk the falsity of a Snopes-reliability accusation would be pretty dumb, so here’s my take on it.

1. To accept the accusation at face value, we’d be relying on the credibility of one single e-mail making an accusation, written by someone we don’t even know, referencing uncited sources, lacking specific evidence and just making general statements.

2. There are some really poorly-laid claims to back itself up. I have not ever found a Snopes article that states Obama never said something, but instead offers much better context and provides direct links to major news agency articles explaining the confusion. “Never said” can both mean, “never uttered those very words” and “did not make the statements in the light you have been lead to believe he made them” often due to selective editing. Foremostly what I find in error with the rationale is that a random, uncited YouTube video is somehow of greater justification of truth than a Snopes article with an insane backstory of firm, reliable credibility.

3. The accusation that the operator is a flaming liberal is just silly. Yes, let’s boil our entire basis for truth upon a purported political stance. The fact that the descriptor “flaming” was used further brings the tone of the accusation down to banter between 7-year-olds at recess shouting, “nuh uh!” at each other.

4. By claiming that Snopes is unreliable in one realm, you’re also refuting the thousands of other articles that Snopes is actually accurate about. By proclaiming a source to be tainted in one aspect, you may inadvertently be trying to establish that all other things produced by that source may be spun in favor of that particular taint — without even bothering to check to see whether they actually are.

5. The accusation that Obama articles are more described as hoaxes while McCain articles are more defined as true — fails to consider whether or not they actually are and are addressing purely hypothetical extrapolations, without even bothering to check! The case for this trait, if true, might be indicative of deeper issues than simply Snopes being hokey — but that McCain supports are actually way better a creating a campaign of deception. I’m not saying they are, but there are at least three sides to every coin — to say that a fire extinguished means that firefighters were on the scene completely disregards the size of the fire, whether it was raining, the nature of the fire, and actual presence of firefighters.

Let’s ask way more questions about questionable credibility of a source that cites specific references than simply assigning truth based on even less trustworthy sources like a single e-mail forward making imprecise and vague accusations.

5. TruthorFiction.com may very well be a perfectly reliable source, but that is no reason to completely abandon another source for truth. The e-mail seems to imply that there is only one choice to be made, instead of both being consultable. Check both, if you like. If TOF cites the identical evidence that Snopes does, is the writer implying that TOF is a flaming liberal? Let’s think about it more carefully before jumping wildly about at the press of a send.