“Miracle or Hoax?” That was the headline of Dunya News that reported the viral video supposedly showing a black horse flying in circles above Jeddah. At least this reporting floated the possibility that the video is not authentic, but it is only the latest example of reporting ‘miracles’ at the expense of rational thinking.
Who can forget Agha Waqar’s ‘water kit’ from a few years ago. Media spread the report of this miraculous invention without the least amount of critical thinking, only to have it soundly disproven by actual scientists. Same is true for HAARP which was projected by media as America’s weather controlling weapon. Once again, the claim was proven to be a hoax.
Some will term such hoaxes as harmless entertainment, but actually they are very dangerous. When media projects scientifically unsound stories such as reports of flying horses and water cars, the people become conditioned to accept anything no matter how ridiculous. This conditioning bears dangerous fruit when exploited by extremists who tell people that polio vaccine is ‘dangerous to health and against Islam’.
Dunya’s report on the flying horse viral video tries to keep a balance by noting that some people do not believe the video is authentic and that ‘there is a shop in Jeddah that sells horse-shaped balloons for children’, but in the case of supposed miracles especially, is ‘balance’ really necessary? Shouldn’t the burden of proof fall on the person claiming a miracle?
Time and again we allow ourselves to be duped by hoaxes that denigrate Pakistan in the eyes of the world. Instead of spreading this kind of sensational stories, media could be promoting science and reason, explaining the health benefits of vaccines and debunking hoaxes. This would strengthen the nation by building strong critical thinking skills that would help us solve our present problems like polio epidemic and avoid future problems as well.