Chinese News Report Mistakes a Sex Toy for a Mushroom!

No, this is not the Onion. And no, it’s not a meaty sea mushroom of some sort. It’s a hot pocket.


Yes, this is amusing, but it’s also enervating philosophically, don’t you think? How human it is to be fooled! It makes one wonder how many things in our culture and personal lives we’re misreading quite ridiculously right now.

In propaganda studies, the rare Chinese “mushroom” discovery might be called a factoid–something that people treat as true but that actually has little or no empirical evidence of being so. An example is a supposed American trend, after 9-11, of stay-at-home moms. The women-leaving-the-workforce “trend” actually had no statistics supporting it, but for a time numerous media outlets treated it as a fact.

I wonder if the resurrection of Jesus is a factoid as well. And the Golden Plates delivered to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. And the multiverses of theoretical physicists. And the cosmic inflation idea promoted by Alan Guth at MIT.

What if God herself is a factoid? That would be quite the illusory mushroom chase–a real blooper!

Laugh at the sex-toy innocent Chinese, but there may be a lot of things we take to be true, and build elaborate theories and social structures around, that are actually false.

Below is a song, for example, that has lyrics which turn on the narrator’s misreading of sentences discovered in a diary. And notice, as the song proceeds, how the narrator, innocent of irony, has a plausible explanation for everything that happens–until he discovers the truth.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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