Can We Please Retire the Word Debunked?
Through a combination of laziness, tight budgets, follow-the-leader syndrome and bias, a cry of “Debunked!” has become a reflex action. A PROPHETIC reflex action, in some cases. (“I understand the CEO wore a bow tie to work this morning.” “That’s a lie! That was debunked SIX MONTHS AGO!”)
Granted, if you don’t have the right connections, it’s an uphill battle to get a designation of “debunked.” (“True, our reporters had a sit-down interview with the senator’s wife yesterday afternoon – but the senator’s claims that he did not murder her last month are still in dispute by respected authorities.”)
Citizens continue having to navigate a minefield of urban legends, health hoaxes and smokescreens, so there will always be a legitimate need for legitimate debunkers; but currently the word is so overused as to be meaningless. In any given instance, does “debunked” mean “thoroughly investigated and demonstrably proven false” or does it mean “Buzz off! I’m George Freakin’ Stephanopoulos”?
I guess my best advice is to greet the phrase “debunked” with a grain of salt. Or maybe a big handful of salt.
(“The connection between sodium and blood pressure has been debunked! So says Stu the backup night watchman at the Acme Man We’ve Got A Serious Oversupply of Salt to Dispose of Corporation warehouse.”)
Rest in peace, Uncle Vernon. I hope you’re getting to enjoy decent vinyl siding in heaven.
(“News flash! Recent revelations from anonymous part-time agnostic have debunked the possibility of vinyl siding in heaven!”)
Copyright 2021 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.Copyright 2021 Danny Tyree, All Rights Reserved. Credit: Cagle.com