PureInsight | October 27, 2003
[PureInsight.org] During the Epoch of the Warring States (403 – 221 B.C.), there was a trend between the warring states to exchange each other's crown princes as a hostage to ensure every state honors their bilateral agreements. There is a story related to these hostages in "The History of the Wei State" in The Records of the Warring States and is as follows.
Pang Cong was an official of the royal court of Wei State, and was asked to accompany the crown prince of Wei State, who would be a hostage of Zhao State. Before departing to Zhao State, Pang Cong asked the King of Wei State, "If a person comes telling you that there's a tiger downtown, would you believe his words?" The King of Wei State answered, "I would not believe such words." Pang Cong asked again, "What if a second person comes telling you that a tiger appears downtown, would you believe it then?" The King of Wei State answered, "I would start to think it might be true." Pang Cong then asked, "Now a third person comes telling you that a tiger appears downtown, what would you say?" The King of Wei State answered, "Well, it has to be true then."
Pang Cong then said, "Apparently a tiger couldn't ever be downtown, but three people can turn a rumor of a tiger downtown into an accepted truth. The capital city of Zhao State, Handan is much further away from our capital city, Daliang, than our downtown, and there are more than three people speaking ill of me, but I hope you can examine these repeated rumors wisely." The King of Wei State said, "I see what you now mean." Thereupon Pang Cong left Wei State with the Zhao State crown prince, feeling assured of the King's acknowlegement of trust. However, later the King of Wei State still believed the slanderous rumors about Pang Cong, and refused to trust Pang Cong with more important responsibilities.
There certainly cannot be any tiger downtown. A rumor that a tiger was spotted downtown is an obvious falsehood, but a rumor, if repeated often enough, can be accepted as truth. This spawned the Chinese idiom "three people can turn a rumor of a tiger downtown into an accepted truth," which is used to express this meaning. For example, one might say, "To tell between truth and falsehood, one must carefully examine all facts and think thoroughly, and should not easily believe in rumors, or one is allowing 'three people to turn a rumor of a tiger downtown into an accepted truth.'" Sometimes one ends up accepting a rumor as truth by mistake because a lie, if repeated often enough, can be accepted as truth.
Let's consider a present-day example. In the process of persecuting Falun Gong, Jiang Zemin's regime continues to create fraudulent lies such as staged homocides, staged suicides, and other types of incredible falsehoods, and repeatedly broadcasts them on TV and publishes them in newspapers. This is done in order to make people believe these rumors, in the same way the King of Wei State came to believe the rumor of a tiger downtown. Meanwhile, Jiang Zemin has blocked all available channels in China for Falun Gong practitioners to clarify the truth about Falun Gong to the Chinese people. Because many people in China knew little about Falun Gong before the persecution, they gradually accepted these false rumors, after they were repeatedly told by Jiang's regime. Hopefully, the Chinese people will be able to tell right from wrong, and see through these biggest rumors of the century.
Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2003/10/10/23929.html