Friday, June 27, 2008

The Misinformation Age

I like to call it Mayonnaise Dyslexia.

Adam Carolla, who is without question the funniest man alive, often used the analogy of the confused waitress on the radio show Loveline. When people are stupid, distracted, or careless, they will only process certain key words and fill in the rest later. So if you ask a harried waitress for "no mayonnaise" on your sandwich, there's at least a 50/50 chance that you'll get extra mayonnaise.

The heartbreak of Mayonnaise Dyslexia.

It happens outside of restaurants, of course. And one of the problems with this information age of ours is the sheer speed with which that information can be spread - losing bits and pieces along the way.

And, occasionally, turning into something else entirely.

Recently, Dr. Drew Pinsky - who was Adam Carolla's partner on Loveline until Carolla left for greener pastures - found himself in a Playboy interview being quizzed about celebrities. He mentioned offhand that he wondered why someone like Tom Cruise would be drawn to a "cultish environment" like Scientology. “To me, that’s a function of a very deep emptiness and suggests serious neglect in childhood — maybe some abuse, but mostly neglect."

Compared to the posts on 90% of celebrity-centric blogs, that's tame as a lamb.

But Tom Cruise's lawyer didn't think so. He protested:

“This unqualified television performer, who is obviously just looking for notoriety, is so grotesquely unprofessional as to pretend to diagnose Tom and others without ever meeting them. He seems to be spewing the absurdity that all Scientologists are mentally ill. The last time we heard garbage like this was from Joseph Goebbels.”

Yes, Joseph Goebbels the Nazi. Yes, the "unqualified television performer" who is a full-time physician by day, running a prestigious addiction medicine clinic.

Now, the Mayonnaise Dyslexia sets in.

The ever-fickle media, apparently tired of mocking Tom Cruise, has largely jumped to his defense. My personal favorite? The Dish Rag's interpretation, in which, apparently, Dr. Drew "had to apologize to Tom Cruise for calling him a Nazi."

Yeah, in Bizarro World.

I can't really blame Elizabeth Snead for barely skimming the article she was linking to as a source, even in a professional blog. The time pressure of blogging is enormous, and she's the equivalent of the harried waitress who hears "extra mayonnaise."

But please, everyone, take your news with a grain of salt. We're all human, after all.