Fake News & Good News

Fake news is nothing new. In 1910, a number of US newspapers carried this story:


Although the details vary, this account from the Los Angeles Herald of 1st February of that year, states:

Des Moines, I[ow]a — The strangest accident recorded in local history occurred this morning when Rhadamanthus, a duck, which took a prize at recent Iowa poultry show, exploded into several hundred pieces, one of which struck Silas Perkins in the eye, destroying the sight. The cause of the explosion was the eating of yeast which was placed in a pan upon the back porch, and tempted his duckship, which was taking a Sunday morning stroll. Upon returning from church Mr. Perkins discovered his prize duck in a somewhat logy condition. Tell tale marks around the pan of yeast gave him his clew. He was about to pick up the bird when the latter quacked and exploded with a loud report and Mr. Perkins ran into the house holding both hands over one eye. A surgeon was called, who found that the eyeball had been penetrated by a fragment of flying duck and gave no hope of saving the optic.

The fact-checking Snopes website has examined the science behind the story, including the alleged inability of ducks to pass wind and burp, thus allowing a build-up of gasses caused by digestions. It concludes:

All that considered, we have to say that if Silas Perkins did lose a prize-winning duck and/or the sight in one of his eyes back in 1910, we suspect that neither event had anything to do with an explosion caused by a pan of yeast.

While allowing for the possibility of some truth in the story, it’s interesting that newspaper reports from 110 years ago continue to be shared using social media. Mark Twain said “a lie will fly around the whole world while the truth is getting its boots on” (though even this attribution is open to question). Yet he’s right. Falsehoods, fibs and untruths become accepted facts while truth itself goes unheard and unrecognised. The wisdom of God found in the gospel is unknown by many and rejected by most. Paul tells the Corinthians in 1:1:21:

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Folk may be more disposed to accept Silas Perkins’ exploding duck than Christ’s atoning death and resurrection, but it doesn’t for one moment make it any less true. We preferred to ‘exchange the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator’. Truth is true whether we accept it or not.

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

Jesus said “I am the truth”.