Val St. John and Scott Fish used to co-host a morning radio show in Florida.
The two decided to pull an April Fool’s Day prank during their airtime in 2013.
They warned the masses that local water sources had been contaminated with dihydrogen monoxide – a compound found in insecticides, jet fuel, acid rain, and chemical weapons.
They weren’t lying. The water supply did contain dihydrogen monoxide.
It’s just that if you break it down, dihydrogen monoxide equates to two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule.
In other words, it’s H2O. Water.
Fortunately, most people got the joke. Unfortunately, a small but loud minority did not.
They flooded (pun absolutely intended) the county water board phonelines demanding to know how such a lethal substance could have been allowed to pollute their water supply.
St. John and Fish were temporarily taken off the air, but their suspension was revoked, and they resumed their regularly scheduled programming.
It was, admittedly, an unwise prank.
But I imagine that the folks who called the county water board were more than a little embarrassed when they realized their mistake.
I wonder how often we make a similar mistake, though. I wonder how often we accept what we hear without considering the source or the merit of the claim itself. I wonder how often we respond emotionally before we respond thoughtfully.
Let’s be a little more discerning. Let’s resist the pull of urgency. Let’s refuse to be taken in by unwarranted fear.
Let’s think before we act.