If you read this blog with any regularity, you’ll know I am a huge fan of the Onion — if you don’t visit it every Wednesday, you should. It contains some of the best satire available on the Internet. It’s not always clean, but it’s usually very funny.

Apparently, many people don’t understand the concept of satire, and choose to rely upon Onion headlines as sources for real news stories. The best of these anecdotes are mentioned in Onion Taken Seriously, Film at 11. It’s amazing to me that real journalists can’t figure it out before publishing their stories. I use many of these stories in my seminars on the subject of information quality, as proof that you can’t always trust what you find on the Internet.

The news folks who mistakenly rely on the Onion as real news are laughable, but here’s something a little more disturbing: people who knowthe Onion is fake, but use it as the truth anyway. That’s what parents in Canada are doing, anyway. In order to protest against a school board’s plan to that would provide protections for gay and lesbian students, parents distributed materials that includes a spoof photo from the Onion. The story appeared under the headline “’98 Homosexual Recruitment Drive Nearing Goal”, and was intended to show what would happen if the school board’s plans were passed. Given the number of people who are conned each year by phishing or Nigerian e-mail scams, tactics like this are likely to snare some believers.