A common logic error many make is wrongly assuming that one example of something is proof that it is widespread and common. Generalizing is something we do naturally because it saves time and helps us understand the world. It is also at the root of some human problems such as prejudice and xenophobia, however.
Richard Jones of Palatka, Florida, captured a once-in-a-lifetime photograph in June while he was walking along the shore of the Ocklawaha River. He believes his son startled a raccoon, who fled toward the river. The raccoon jumped onto the back of an alligator and stood up long enough to have his picture taken. He immediately jumped away from the alligator as soon as the gator started moving. But the picture looks as if the raccoon planned to ride across the river on his reptilian friend. As the picture was passed around the internet, it attracted all sorts of pun headlines, such as “Florida gator starts Uber-like service.”
The next time you want to buy something because you heard a story that it helped one or a few people, ask yourself if all raccoons ride alligators.
There is also the valid question, do ANY raccoons ride on alligators?
Despite the popularity of the picture, many are now questioning the authenticity. Many commenters and other websites have called into question if the photo was real or if it was faked.
The Ocala Star Banner reluctantly posted the photo after initially questioning the authenticity of the photo. Some concerns posed by Ocala.com included the size of the raccoon’s tail as well as the proportion compared to the alligator. They also pointed out that the gator had an odd eye shape, color and placement.
The editors at Fusion, a joint venture website whose target audience consists mainly of millennials, also posed questions about the photo including the raccoon’s stiff posture, suggesting it “looks like a taxidermy piece.”
Mr. Jones has not responded to our request for an interview.
If it’s photoshopped, they did a good job on the lighting.