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Boy who Cried Wolf

For those who are not familiar with the story, it basically goes as follows: A boy is watching some sheep. He gets bored and cries out that a wolf is attacking the sheep when actually nothing is going on. The nearby villagers come running to help, but find out they were fooled. This happens a few times, until a real wolf actually comes to attack the sheep. This time, when the boy cries for help, none of the villagers believe him, and they all stay in the pub.

Obviously this story is a kind of parable to teach young children not to lie, because when they eventually do tell the truth, nobody will believe them. "The Boy who Cried Wolf" has been around since 1673, and much of western civilization sees it as nothing more than that. I believe you can take this much further. You could use this kind of psychology to your advantage. Think about Pavlov's dogs, they started salivating when he rung a bell, even when he stopped giving them food.

"Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed. The liar will lie once, twice, and then perish when he tells the truth."

Now imagine if you wanted to cover something up. Something is going to happen, but you don't want people to know about it. You could, in theory, stage a load of fake occurrences, let people believe them a little, but then prove them all fake (which is easy, because they are). Then when this real event happens, and there are reports about it, nobody would believe them!

Let's try it with some examples. Conspiracy theories could fall into this scheme quite easily. I'm not going to propose anything as fact; I just want to test my model. There are many theories and stories revolving around the events of 9/11, and it's quite obvious that not all of them can be true (some of them contradict each other). For example, there are theories that some or all of the planes were remote controlled. There are theories that the World Trade buildings were brought down by controlled demolition. There are theories about flight 93 concerning fake phone calls, and crashing vs. shot down. All these theories are fueled more by supposed government involvement (or lack thereof), missing (removed) evidence, and changing (official) stories. Now if the truth did come out somewhere, if it hasn't already, people would never recognize it, because there are already so many stories circulating and nobody knows what to believe. Here's a new theory: The government creates a bunch of hoax conspiracy theories to discredit and hide the truth.

I have an even better example for you. Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are real... Sometimes... There are a lot of sightings of alien spacecraft and most of them, I believe, are fake. The boy could be crying wolf here. Imagine the guys taking photographs of UFOs are the boy, and the rest of us are the villagers. Now a new twist on the story is that some external force (government, whatever you like to think is controlling your life) is sending in a bunch of fake wolves. The UFO photographers end up taking pictures of these fake UFOs and there is a small hype every time this happens (the villagers come running). Later on it's proven that these UFOs were fake, or even better, that the pictures were just photoshopped, and we stop trusting these UFO guys. Later on, a real alien spaceship comes to pay our dear government a visit, but it is spotted by some campers and they manage to take a somewhat blurry photograph with their cell phone. When they try to show this picture to people, you know, do the wolf cry, nobody's going to come running, because we're all sitting in the pub.

It gets even better when there are real encounters, and the lucky bastard who met the aliens just happened to be on drugs at the time, so their entire story is discredited. It's very easy to disbelieve a story from a guy who was "high at the time, dude". Here's a nice way to close this off: When aliens come to Earth, which they've done on numerous occasions (maybe... who cares), they will pick out individuals to abduct based on the following criteria: low IQ, alcoholic, lives in Dontknowdontcare, and must be intoxicated at the time. Bonus points if they pick up someone who's already a big fish tales guy.

And YouTube is really helping...

Late addition (12 March 2009): Have a look at this very relevant comic: White Ninja cries wolf



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Comment by Antonius L. Zubeck

Posted on 3 August, 2008
You're just scratching the surface...

Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 6 August, 2008
I suppose that Hollywood could play a major role in the "Crying Wolf" scheme. If there's a 'fictional' movie about something, then it has the same effects as the photoshopped pictures or the case where the only people who saw the UFOs were on drugs. It's all about putting enough fake information out there to disguise the real truth... I just had another thought, after you've read and digested all of the above information, what would you say about a "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"?

Comment by Ralph van den Berg

Posted on 30 August, 2008
All conspiracy theories (including this one) are made up by the Government to scare us. They lead us to believe that we've discovered some great mystery while we're actually just pulling the strings that, through a complicated pulley system, just pull on ourselves.

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