"It seemed too adorable to be fake, but it was too good to be true."
That lede, from a story in The New York Times this morning, refers to this video of a pig saving a goat from drowning—a video that you probably already know was a hoax.
But millions of viewers wanted to believe it was true—as did numerous news media—and that was the whole point of the social media experiment, according to Nathan Fielder, who created the video. We believe the things we want to believe.
— That's why the Roman Catholic Church can't snuff rumors about the "real reasons" for Pope Benedict's resignation.
— That's why Met fans see the new Amway storefront at Citi Field as a further indictment of ownership's incompetence, given accusations that Amway is a pyramid scheme.
— That's why Manti Te'o is having a hard time explaining that his poor performance at the NFL Scouting Combine was due to fatigue.
The harsh reality for communicators: The truth doesn't matter when you lose your audiences' trust. They'd rather believe in a pig that rescues goats.