Just a bonus comic for you all. The Facebook and Tumblr crowds already got a taste yesterday, but I spiffed up the image a bit and added examples of the crime against humanity that is “Back to the Future Day.”
I’m sure the hoax started off innocently enough. The readout in Doc’s DeLorean DMC-12 is pretty easy to photoshop for a quick laugh. But then it got out of hand. As you can see in the image, the novelty was too good to resist and somebody couldn’t even be bothered to wait a whole week without posting a new one. I’m sure it still worked.
I’m no Back to the Future expert. I had to look up the actual dates. Thankfully, these photoshops have taken on an eye-rollingly repetitive quality previously only known to End-of-the-World claims. BUT, that doesn’t make you a dum-dum or a bad person if you accidentally shared one of these photos.
This site is as much about critical thinking as it is about science, and the first thing to remember is that human beings are messy mistake-makers. The scientific method was designed with that in mind, and the process is there to rule out bias or logical fallacies.
Photoshop hoaxes are a perfect example of not only how easy it is to fall into a false claim, but how easy it is to fact-check the right information. My rule of thumb: Don’t be the first to share. It’s tough, I know. Remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so when the next ”Back to the Future Day” rolls around, or when there are sharks in the flooded subway again, you’ll thank yourself for checking it out first.
All that said, as far as hoaxes go, sharing “Back to the Future Day” is pretty damn harmless. Far more people blindly spread misinformation about vaccines, GMOs, and climate change every day with much harsher consequences.