Sunday night, a gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas fired ammunition into a large crowd at a music concert adjacent to the hotel. At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded. The gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was found dead when law enforcement entered his hotel room. That sums up most of what we know. Any information beyond that? Be very, very careful before you believe it.
It’s an unfortunate reality that every tragedy breeds not just misunderstandings but outright conspiracies and lies. This has always been true, a collision of imperfect information and the impulse to rationalize, to make the previously unthinkable square with what we thought we knew about the world.
You could see it in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, when Reddit wrongly identified college student Sunil Tripathi as one of the attackers. You could see it during and after Hurricane Sandy upended New York, when Photoshopped images…