A memory hole is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a website or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened. The concept was first popularized by George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eight-Four, where the Party’s Ministry of Truth systematically re-created all potential historical documents, in effect, re-writing all of history to match the often-changing state propaganda. These changes were complete and undetectable.
By Joel Thurtell
An October 1 Free Press article on eastern massasauga rattlesnakes gives the erroneous impression that a bite by one of these reptiles poses minimal risk to humans. A naturalist quoted in the article claims incorrectly that no human has died of a massasauga bite in the last 100 years.
On July 29, 1989, the Detroit Free Press Magazine published a cover story, “Snakebit!,” written by me. I reported that a retired professor of microbiology and immunology at the Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis and an authority on snake venom, Sherman Minton, had compiled a list of four human deaths attributed to massasauga bites in the mid-twentieth century.
Massasauga venom is the second most toxic of 21 rattlesnake species. Massasauga venom is more potent than that of the Western Diamondback rattlesnake. That more people have not died or been seriously injured by massasaugas can be attributed to their reclusive personalities and the fact that these small snakes don’t pack as much venom as larger rattlers.
A Grosse Pointe Woods woman responded to my article, reporting that her cousin died of massasauga bites in Georgian Bay on July 17, 1962. “For years,” she wrote,”park rangers have given the snake great PR without mentioning that a bite can be lethal to humans.”
My article described how physicians’ ignorance about massasaugas nearly caused the death of a man who was bitten accidentally. Another man thought a rattler was harmless, picked it up and was bitten. He was hospitalized with a serious injury.
The writer is a retired Detroit Free Press reporter