Researchers at MIT announced the shocking results of a groundbreaking study Monday, revealing that over 90% of the population of the internet are liars and hypocrites.
In the fourteen-month study, researchers canvassed hundreds of discussion forums, blogs, and social networking sites, tracking down participants and following up in-person on statements and claims made online.
“Much to our amazement, we found that the vast majority of what people said online was in fact completely false,” said lead researcher Dr. Albert Clarke.
Researchers were also surprised to find that the very same people that consistently posted complete fabrications and falsehoods maintained a hypocritical expectation that other people online should be truthful.
“People have to be honest with me online, otherwise how can I trust them,” said an overweight 48-year-old quoted in the study, whose profile indicated that he was an athletic 23-year-old.
Barely three percent of people surveyed in the study were found to adhere to the same standard that they expected of their online peers.
“We were really surprised by these results,” said Dr. Clarke. “I think everyone assumes that the internet is this sort of safe haven utopia where upstanding morals and impeccable ethics are the norm, but apparently that’s not the case at all.”
In one case study presented in the report, a 27-year-old internet user going by the handle “piratewater” engaged in a heated, weeks-long debate with anonymous commenters on his blog, eventually banning anonymous comments on his blog and declaring that “as far as I’m concerned, good deeds are the only reason for anonymity.” A few months later, researchers were shocked when they observed piratewater leaving heated anonymous comments on another blog.
The paper offered a number of hypotheses for this strange behavior, including widespread undiagnosed dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia, and/or rabies.
“We are already planning our next study to uncover the causes behind this staggering trend,” said Dr. Clarke. “But we’ll probably tell possible test subjects that we’re conducting a study of sexual stamina or something, just to keep them interested.”
Other statistics revealed in the study:
- 92% of claims made in online profiles were found to be false, including references to gender
- 12% of people maintain twenty-five or more distinct online personas
- 0.02% of people were totally honest in their online interactions
- 32% of people online really are actual, literal dogs