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A “Parliament” of baboons? Nice story, except it’s rubbish

Hard on the heels of the fake “Zuma party” email another twisted piece of fake news hit my inbox yesterday. Crafted by a skilled propagandist, it contains just enough truth to appear believable.

The mail starts off innocently, giving descriptions for groups of creatures – a herd of cows, school of fish, pride of lions, gaggle of geese and so on. Then the author claims lesser known terms like a “murder” of crows and an “exaltation” of doves. The first is dodgy as it derives from an Edgar Allan Poe story; the second downright false. Doves can be called a dule, group or flock, but never a exaltation – that’s a description from a book about larks.

But the author’s punchline shows where the intention was always heading. The anonymous correspondent of this widely circulated email writes: “Now consider a group of baboons…the loudest, most obnoxious, least intelligent of all primates…And what is the proper collective noun for a group of baboons? Believe it or not…a Parliament.”

Nice story. Except it’s rubbish. Baboons collect in troops. A “Parliament” is indeed used to describe a group of creatures – but for owls. which represent wisdom and knowledge in many cultures. But of course that doesn’t suit the author’s objection. A reminder. With Google, you can verify a supposedly smart mail in minutes. Use it.

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