Monday, April 2, 2012

Rant: There Is No Upcoming BlueFin Tuna Dinner

Yesterday, I posted a Rant about an alleged blacklisted seafood dinner involving "sustainable" Bluefin Tuna. That post though was an April Fool's prank, and the dinner is not real. No one asked me whether the post was an April Fool's joke, and a number of people reacted as if it were a legitimate post. So I can consider that it was a successful prank, which is far more difficult to accomplish in these days of social media.

For example, there was a multitude of tweets on Twitter referencing April Fool's Day, so it was tough for people not to remember the day. I think there are two keys though to a successful prank, which can succeed despite the increased awareness of April Fool's. First, the prank needs to be plausible, to seem realistic, and it should contain little details which enhance its credibility. For example, I added links to authentic organizations, and provided a detailed menu with wine pairings.

But what may be more important is to write a prank post that appeals to people's emotions, hopefully shutting down their logical aspect so that they do not question the legitimacy of your post. For example, my April Fool's post dealt with seafood sustainability, and specifically the endangered Bluefin Tuna. That can be a very emotional issue, where people react viscerally, and don't always look at the matter through a critical lens. In this instance, it seemed sufficiently emotional so that people didn't think about April Fool's and reacted only to the content of the post.

That points to a larger issue though, how our emotions sometimes guide our viewpoints and decisions, clouding our logic, clouding our critical analysis. Seafood sustainability is a complex issue, with many differing viewpoints and positions, and little is black and white. It is often a world of gray. Thus, when considering these issues, we need to ensure we engage our critical thinking, and not just react according to our emotions, prejudices and biases. We must be open to consider new evidence, different opinions, and varied ways of thinking. If we do not, then it can be almost as if we are falling for April Fool's pranks year round.

Obviously, this is relevant to far more than just seafood sustainability. With any controversial topic, we should try to examine the matter with a critical eye, rather than making assumptions based on emotions and biases. Question everything, rather than blindly accepting things just because you wish them to be true.

1 comment:

Jason Phelps said...

Market research in a lot of industries always point to word of mouth and trusted recommendations as a key way people make decisions. It does bring up the role of critical thinking and just who does that anymore...

In your case you have developed a theme with your writing that has depth of research, passion and authenticity in it. You've become and influencer. Some people may not question you or do your homework solely because you have not led them astray yet with your accurate and insightful writing.

That doesn't mean you can't execute pranks and that they won't work for the reasons you state. By the way, nice one with the menu! It just means you might ensnare your readers exactly as your prank might hope to!