PSA: This Easter, please remember to fact-check before sharing or retweeting

Hey everyone, see this image?

The claims it makes are bullshit. As you could find out with literally a minute on Google or Wikipedia:

The modern English term Easter, cognate with modern German Ostern, developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre.[nb 2] This is generally held to have originally referred to the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Ēostre, a form of the widely attested Indo-European dawn goddess.[nb 3]

In Greek and Latin, the Christian celebration was and is called Πάσχα, Pascha, words derived, through Aramaic, from the Hebrew term Pesach (פֶּסַח), known in English as Passover, which originally denoted the Jewish festival commemorating the story of the Exodus.[29][30] Already in the 50s of the 1st century, Paul, writing from Ephesus to the Christians in Corinth,[31] applied the term to Christ, and it is unlikely that the Ephesian and Corinthian Christians were the first to hear Exodus 12 interpreted as speaking about the death of Jesus, not just about the Jewish Passover ritual.[32] In most of the non-English speaking world, the feast is known by names derived from Greek and Latin Pascha.[5][33]

So: pagan etymology, yes, specifically related to Ishtar, no. Again, I must emphasize, this took me one minute to find out. If you shared the image above, as many people on my Facebook timeline did, I now know you don’t care enough about whether the things you say are true to do one goddamned minute of checking before posting something to Facebook.

Easter is a convenient excuse to write about this problem, but it isn’t by any means limited to to this one image. The problem is one of the biggest dark sides to the internet. On the one hand, the internet has made fact-checking easier than ever before. Often, fact-checking is a simple Google search away. Extensive debunkings of various kinds of nonsense are available for free on websites like TalkOrigins.org

Unfortunately, while fact-checking may only take a minute, clicking “share” without fact-checking only takes half a second. So if people don’t care enough to do that fact-checking, the internet becomes, instead of a powerful force for truth, the most powerful vector for spreading nonsense humans have ever invented. This tendency becomes particularly worrisome when we’re talking about the internet outrage machine. Someone can write a distorted account of an event they want people to be mad about, and there’s a good chance that countless people will share it without a minute’s worth of Googling to see find out of things actually went down the way described.

So people: fact-check that shit, okay?

</PSA>

  • MNb

    In Dutch – that language spoken between English and German – it’s called Pasen. No prices for those who can guess where that word comes from.

  • Highlander

    You’ll have to pardon me if I don’t hold my breath waiting for the internet to be less credulous.

  • L.Long

    I have heard the story in the poster for over 60years.
    And just like Ship High In Transit. And Fornicate Under Carnal Knowledge.
    It sounds nice and reasonable but it is still BS. But to be honest though, we hear a lot about the early Xtians stealing pagan feast days, so again it does really sound reasonable.
    But that does not excuse us so called rationalists from dropping the intellectual ball and letting this one persist.
    But to be Satan (original meaning) how do we know the Wiki article is all that accurate?? And they left out all the pagan eggs and rabbits??
    But personally I love easter as it marks the most important day of the year…..
    CHEAP CANDY DAY!!!! that occurs over the next few days after easter.

    • Tim Davies

      When it comes to Christianity, Wiki can’t be trusted:

      “Greetings! WikiProject Christianity was formed in 2006 to better organise information in articles related to Christianity.”
      Of course we all know what “better organise information” means.

      You can find them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Christianity

      Ken Humphreys told me that they have whole teams at work.

      The popes are looking better all the time, I’ve noticed.

      • Psycho Gecko

        For another example of wikis not being trustworthy, check out the Historicity of Jesus page. They have taken pains to make that page untrustworthy, claiming that Josephus is a trusted source rather than a guy born years after the alleged fact whose passages mentioning Jesus were added by later Christians to try and establish a historical Jesus.

  • D Rizdek

    Off topic, but Exodus 12… One of the earliest stories in the Bible that caused me to rethink my god belief. WHY does a god need folks to kill baby sheep JUST to mark their doorways? Was he too stupid to actually KNOW where his people lived vs where the Egyptians lived? And why kill the first born anyways? It wasn’t their fault their gov’t was enslaving the Israelites.
    Just the musing of a youngster trying to make sense of a senseless ancient religious text.

    • The Thinking Commenter

      This point has not escaped “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary”:

      Of this they were reminded, and by this ordinance they were taught, that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood.

      Yada yada he goes on with more bullshite “explaining” everything…

      Just sayin it’s a point that is obvious and it has not been overlooked at all. (Yeah I know, any idiot can make up baloney to “explain” something.)

  • JohnH2

    Except that Ishtar and Indo-European dawn goddess are at least very closely related: They are both love goddesses who are identified with the morning star (Venus), fertility, sex, spring, and there is cross pollination of the myths associated with both, especially for the Greeks.

    Also the eggs and bunnies do predate the Christian usage; though quite possibly not for the English.

  • http://iamchristianiamanatheist.blogspot.kr/ iamanatheistandthisiswhy

    Well said, its good to be skeptical about everything. Its very easy to be wrong in a world where you can find that the world is flat if you believe everything on the Internet.


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