Frankly, I do not follow a lot of the information that I find on the Internet. You have to apply “critical thinking” for much of it. In other words, you cannot always believe what you read. Sometimes there is more going on behind the scenes than you realize. However, I am amazed how many times people will tell me, “I was on such-and-such website and read that …” OK, and you believed that? Just because you read it on the internet from someone you do not know does not make it a fact.

Let me give you an example. Before I start, I want to make it clear that there is no basis in truth in what I am claiming here.

Fact: The USPS has taken away sales of the inverted Jenny souvenir sheet from the Stamp Fulfillment Center because they say supplies are exhausted. They are going to rely on sales through local post offices to dispose of the remainder of the souvenir sheets.

Fact: According to USPS sources, 30 of the upright plane “error” sheets have been certified through the USPS. One hundred error panes were created. That leaves 70 error panes unaccounted for so far.

Fact: About a year ago, the USPS gave three error panes to customers who ordered souvenir sheets through the Stamp Fulfillment Center. Hence, their claim that all 100 error panes were randomly distributed is false. Someone deliberately held back these three error panes for a promotion.

Here is my claim. It is a doozy!

Claim: The reason only 30 panes have been discovered is that the person who was responsible for the “random” distribution of the error panes actually held 50 panes back for themselves. Those 50 error panes are now sitting in a bank vault in Butte, MT. The person plans to hold them for twenty years and gradually leak them out to the market. With current panes fetching around $50,000 each when sold on the market, this stash of 50 panes will yield $2.5 million for the person. It is a nice, tidy sum of money for retirement.

Notice what I did. I took some facts, urban legends, and half-truths and weaved them together into making a very plausible conspiracy theory. If you did not know that I was making this up, I probably just planted fake news in your mind.

Now you are thinking, “Can it be true? Are there really 50 error panes that someone hid away? The post office was not truthful when it said all error panes were randomly distributed. Someone knew which ones were the error panes. They kept three panes back. Did that person horde half of the panes for themselves?”

This is what people on the internet sometimes do. They lead you to believe something that is not true. They sometimes insert (or omit) pieces of information that support their viewpoint. No one is controlling this or doing any fact checking on it (the job of an editor at a traditional publication). Unless you are willing to question things or dig deeper, you may believe whatever you just read.

This is how fake news (in the philatelic world anyway) is created.