When context is vital: “Starvation stones” go viral, however information first broke in 2018

A hunger stone in the Elbe River in Děčín, Czech Republic. The oldest readable carving is from 1616, with older carvings (1417 and 1473) having been wiped out by anchoring ships over the years.

Enlarge / A starvation stone within the Elbe River in Děčín, Czech Republic. The oldest readable carving is from 1616, with older carvings (1417 and 1473) having been worn out by anchoring ships through the years. (credit score: Dr. Bernd Gross/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tales have been circling across the Web this previous week concerning the re-emergence in sure Czech and German rivers of so-called “starvation stones”—rocks embedded in rivers throughout droughts to mark the water stage and warn future generations of the doubtless famine and hardship to return at any time when the stones grew to become seen once more. The protection has been fueled largely by an August 11 tweet noting one stone particularly, inscribed with a dire warning: “In case you see me, weep.”

Starvation stones (hungerstein) are very a lot an actual factor with an extended and engaging historical past. And Europe is within the midst of a traditionally extreme drought—extreme sufficient that water ranges could certainly be sufficiently low for the stones to re-emerge as soon as extra. However that August 11 tweet and the associated protection are literally rehashing a collection of reports tales from 2018, when the re-emergence of the starvation stones within the midst of that 12 months’s excessive drought in Europe made headlines.

It is hardly an egregious case of misinformation, however it does present an illustrative instance of why together with context is so essential within the digital age—even in a comparatively easy tweet enthusing about newly acquired information.

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