Edmund Blair Leighton
I have recently been witness to a group of people who have been involved in a situation of gossip and heresay. Have you ever played the parlor game where one person will say something, and then pass it on to the next, and so on, and so on, and by the time it has reached the last person, the original message has taken on a whole different story? It's a lot of fun, and worth a giggle. In real life? Not so much. In real life, gossip based on heresay ruins friendships and reputations, and destroys lives.
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" ... Exodus. 20:16
The people involved in this gossip are good people -- in fact they are regular church-going people (which I am not) -- so they understand the ninth commandment and the concept of bearing false witness. And yet, they are so sure of the facts, they repeat the gossip and hearsay, regardless of whether or not they could swear an oath that the facts are true. And believe me, sometimes even people's own eyes can deceive them. Ask any lawyer or prosecutor about eye witness statements in court.
An article in Canadian Psychology Vol. 42(2), May 2001, p. 92-100 states that "Case studies, and more recently DNA testing in the US, have shown that mistaken eyewitness identification is responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined."
And yet people will continue to pass on gossip and heresay, based on something they insisted they saw "with their own eyes" -- and they were wrong.
"Have you heard...?" "Everyone is talking about..." "But I saw it..."
If you ever find yourself in this