This story that has been making the rounds all over international media is a prime example of how the rush to exoticize a foreign place gets in the way of basic, easy-to-do critical thought:

Anyone taking a moment to think through some of the numbers included in the article will quickly see that none of it adds up. There is no way this is true as it is being presented. There is no cost effective way to amass, recondition, and distribute 300k used condoms.


Counterfeiting of condoms is widespread in Vietnam, and almost certainly what this operation was really involved in. The people who got caught clearly wanted to protect their suppliers, and foreign media giddily took it at face value and passed it along to the world when anyone--ANYONE--could have turned the numbers over in their head for a few minutes and known it didn't add up.

It's a trivial matter in this instance, but much more serious topics get the same treatment.

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