Gullible HD

[This was originally posted on August 27, 2011, but had to be “reconstructed” following the crash of a MySQL server at my Web hosting service.]

As hurricane Irene is crawling up the East Coast of the United States, it seems unfair — not to say cruel — to take advantage of someone else’s gullibility. Especially when that person’s focus is sincere concern for another person who is living on Block Island in Irene’s projected path. For the sake of anonymity, let’s call that first, caring person “L”; and the second, the focus of the concern, “A.”

The precipitating move was when L. called my wife and wanted her to intercede with A. about hopping on the next ferry to the mainland. Perhaps needless to say, A., being of a younger generation and having a limited sense of her own mortality, to say nothing of looking forward to a couple of days off work, had no intention of getting on the aforementioned ferry. For my part, I seized on the standoff as an opportunity to use two new iPad apps that I purchased a couple of days ago. One is a fabulous storm tracker called Hurricane HD. The other is a frivolous must-have called Fake the Weather.

You can probably guess where this is going. A little after noon today the ground truth was very similar to that shown here (as of 2:00 PM EDT) from Hurricane HD:

A few minutes later I had fabricated the following in Fake the Weather and emailed it to L., with the explanation that it showed a rare and little-known “pre-tropical inversion effect”:

Of course, L. bought it because she is gullible, in fact, gullible in high-def. And because a screen capture from an iPad with an AT&T ad implies — or allows the viewer to infer — a certain legitimacy. But just to be sure you get it, dear reader, this is all totally bogus. The “pre-tropical inversion effect” is so rare and little-known that it gets no hits (as a phrase) on Google. None. Not any. Of course, once I push “Publish” on WordPress, it will have at least one instance to index.

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