Friday, December 30, 2011

Forwarding Emails without checking

Note:  I include email, texting, and voicemail, along with sites such as Facebook and Twitter in "Social Media".

 I got my usual dose of forwarded emails this morning.  As usual, many of them were crap.  I don't really mind senseless stuff, but I do mind stuff that gets passed around and taken as fact.

One was about using a new Bayer aspirin product if you feel a heart attack coming on, along with a few other tips.  With just a couple of minutes of looking, it was obvious that the advice was bogus.  I usually start with, who somehow gets these things before I do.  (Actually most of this crap has been around for years).  I also scanned through the sources given at Snopes (they aren't perfect) and found that the FDA also disagrees with the advice in the email, agreeing with Snopes.

The second one was a very cleverly composed email about Groundhog day and the State of the Union Address.  There could be several ways to spin the cleverness, but unfortunately the author chose to try to improve on the facts by adding,
In the coming New Year, 2012, Groundhog Day and the State of the Union address will occur on the same day. This is an ironic juxtaposition of events.
That would certainly improve the story ... if it was true.  The fact is that the State of the Union Address in 2012 is scheduled for January 24 and Groundhog Day is February 2. The email I received showed more than 6 forwards, showing that nobody in the list took the time to check the facts.   Although I won't spend a lot of time checking the facts in stuff like this, I usually give it a minute or two.  And definitely don't pass something on without checking it out first.

It is stupid to:
  1. Accept as fact information you get from an unknown source without checking the facts yourself.  The amount of time you spend checking the facts depends on the importance of the information.
  2. Forward stuff without at least doing a little checking, especially if the stuff says, "send this to all your friends".
  3. Forward stuff that is of no value.  Is it really funny or clever enough to pass on?  Is there useful information in it? Will the person I forward it to be glad to get it?
If something is said enough times, it becomes "accepted fact".  The more bogus accepted facts floating around, the lower the overall intelligence of society.  Stop being stupid!

P.S. The punch line of the State of the Union Address and Groundhog day is:
One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to an insignificant creature of little intelligence for prognostication. The other involves a groundhog.

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