On October 15, 2009 the Heene family triggered a nation-wide police search for their boy. The family claimed that "Falcon" (their 6 year old son) was stranded approximately 7,000 ft in the air in a homemade balloon somewhere over Colorado. As the story goes, Falcon climbed into the gas filled balloon and his two parents(Richard and Mayumi) released it into the atmosphere not knowing that their son was on board. After an hour long 50 mile flight, the silver, saucer-shaped balloon landed just north of the Denver International Airport. The balloon had no boy inside, however the story does not stop here. Then police began a manhunt of the entire area after hearing reports of objects falling from the balloon. Later that afternoon the boy was found hiding in the family's attic. The whole incident was resolved to be a hoax.
Here's a clip of the video: http://youtu.be/FIYKGz7cABg
Now how does this relate to Psychology you ask? Well, if you l compare critical thinking to this whole media coverage, it is easy to see just how quickly the whole nation was fooled into believe this extraordinary claim. When this happened we all automatically thought that of course the boy is in the balloon, and went straight to criticizing the parents for being so irresponsible. Even after the balloon had landed and there was no boy, we still insisted that he must have been on board but just fell out.
How gullible America was in jumping to such a conclusion even when there was no way to prove that he was not in the balloon. In other words the claim was not falsifiable but yet we still believed it. Not everything that the media says is true. We must be skeptical yet precautious because certainly if this was not a hoax we would want to be responsive as possible to return the boy to safety. After all the commotion, According to the Huntington Post, "The public services were reimbursed by the Heene family $36,000." What an expensive misconception of a boy in a balloon.