Moron alert: Dumbest Onion readers

OnionEvery so often, the media will report on some high-profile entity — a congressman of the Chinese government, say — who will repeat a story found at the online satirical “newspaper” The Onion as actual fact. Now, hoaxes in news are nothing new, and not that rare. But the thing is, The Onion can’t be characterized as a hoax site — they make no bones about being satirical, just like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report or even Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update.

So when people fall for links from this joke paper — which specializes in outrageous overstatement, such as this favorite of mine — it always puzzles me. And in the Facebook Age, that’s all the more common.

So I was laughing my ass off when I happened upon this recent story, which pulls together the 35 “best” times someone on Facebook fell for an Onion piece. (My favorite? No. 27.) What’s especially wondrous is how most of the “victims” suffer from confirmational bias — the tendency to find like-minded people affirm already held (and kooky) beliefs, such as the notion that Osama bin Laden is still alive (and a 500 foot monster — No. 5), the scourge of poor people (No. 8) and an abortion factory (Nos. 7 and 16). Some of these (obviously right wing) nuts even twist bizarre stories like the prevalence of wolf attacks (No. 2) as a platform for spouting propaganda about Obama (No. 24 may be the best), liberalism and the welfare state (apparently not knowing the Official Dance to the National Anthem is an embarrassment related to food stamps — No. 3).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

In other Rangers news, The Onion reports attempts to woo Oswalt with the Round-Up

While everyone is focusing in on Josh Hamilton’s fall off the wagon, The Onion reported today of the Texas Rangers work to bring in popular free agent Roy Oswalt. The guy has stated he wants to play in Texas, so what better way to show him what Texas (Dallas, really) is all about than to take him to the Round-Up? Take that, Boston.

The Onion posted this story today in which the team gives him a unique look at Dallas nightlife with visits to Havana, Zippers, Sue Ellen’s  and the Round-Up.

According to Oswalt, despite the “kind of weird” nature of the conversation, his visit started much as any recruiting visit might. The former Astros and Phillies ace was met at the airport by team officials, including current manager Ron Washington and GM Jon Daniels, as well as two handsome, clean-cut young men who identified themselves only as “Tex” and “Kevin.”

A visit to the Ballpark in Arlington followed, during which Washington and Daniels espoused the benefits of living in an “exciting and open-minded” town such as Dallas, and Tex and Kevin repeatedly asked to see his arm, praised its muscularity, and offered to rub it or ice it down if needed.

“Then,” Oswalt said, “oh, God, then they took me out on the town.”

The last official thing we know about Oswalt is that he’ll likely sign with St. Louis Cardinals, another team he wanted to play in. At least, that’s what this blog speculates. Perhaps they had a better bar scene.

—  Rich Lopez