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Spill hot coffee on yourself, become a millionaire.

A not-exactly true story.

“The first to present a case appears right, until another comes forward with questions.”

I worked for a lot of years in a job where we had fellow employees scattered all over the world. Teams who reported to us. Different administrations working together in partnership, sometimes happily and sometimes not. Living and working multiple time zones apart, and with five or six different languages and cultures represented, misunderstandings happened pretty easily. One thing I learned quickly, however, was never to trust second-hand facts. ESPECIALLY when those so-called facts seemed ridiculous or put someone in a horrible light and double especially when those facts would mean that someone I worked with was a complete imbecile.

Granted, sometimes I would dig through the facts and discover that someone was ridiculous or horrible or imbecilic but that was far more rare than you would expect. The most common reason a story that was upsetting, crazy or unbelievable popped in my inbox? Someone was trying to manipulate me with a selective presentation of the facts.
This video takes a look at a story you may remember: the woman who spilled hot coffee on herself and became a millionaire. It’s enlightening as an exercise in watching the story change and grow and shrink and become a tool for politics or comedy or legal escapades. It’s enlightening because it shows how easily we can say things that are both facts and lies of omission. It’s a great reminder to dig into the facts for ourselves, and to seek truth.

Warning: there are three brief but disturbing images at the 5:10-5:17 mark.

How about you? Any stories you thought were true that turned out not to be? When have you been manipulated with a story that was only a piece of the truth?

By Matt Mikalatos

Matt Mikalatos is a writer not a fighter.