Take, for example, The Martian. Buzzfeed published a story last week which informed us that some movie-goers are leaving the theater under the impression that this SF blockbuster is based on a true story.
The Martian, the new movie by Ridley Scott starring Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars, is being rightly praised for its fairly accurate portrayal of science.
But maybe it was too realistic, because an alarming number of people out there have come away from the film thinking it is based on a true story.
While I would usually assume that someone was pulling a hoax on either Buzzfeed or its readers, in this case the report is real. Some people really do think that The Martian, a story which was originally self-published online by its (non-astronaut) author, really happened and wasn't just invented to entertain readers.
I would normally pass on this type of gossip as hearsay, but I was listening to the radio this morning while running errands and I heard one DJ say, in all seriousness, that The Martian was based on a true story. I won't tell you the person's name or the radio station, but I can assure you that they were not joking.
Scary, isn't it?