Everyone gets email these days. Most of the time it’s stuff you want, confirmation of an order made online, notes from a friend, amusing photos from a coworker. Stuff you want and know that it’s on the level. But what about the chain emails that some people think are just so important they have an overwhelming need to share it with everyone in their address book? Generally it will be a message of some dire predicament that the government is going to put everyone in if they vote a certain way or some message of warning that some food will kill you faster than life normally would or even that our country is going to hell in an express hand basket because our cities don’t look as clean and neon lit as someone else’s city. It’s filled with FUD. What is FUD? It’s a catch all term for ‘Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt’. It’s the monosodium glutamate of today’s information, sad to say… I personally don’t make a point of correcting the enormous fallacies the chain emails promote, but in the past I have done just that. It takes time and eventually I realize that I’m just shouting in the wind, it’s going to to little good to whomever sent me the rant. I now realize that a much better plan is to attempt to educate the general population as to how best to avoid bogus email in the first place.
In looking around the interwebs I found this gem from FactCheck.org. These are the folks that go to the trouble to verifying that what politicians say is how it actually is. It matters little what your political affiliation is because this place is an equal opportunity offender. They call it like it is saying yep or nope to the points in question. Handy site to refer to in these days of amazingly polarized opinion.
If there was ever a case where readers should apply a guilty-until-proven-innocent standard, this is it. We at FactCheck.org ask the public to be skeptical about politicians’ claims. With these e-mails, outright cynicism is justified. Assume all such messages are wrong, and you’ll be right most of the time.
I like their style. ‘Question and verify’, words to live by if you read anything on the Internet or hear anything on the news. Even more so with chain emails. So have a nice sit down and read their how-to guide over a strong cup of tea and maybe you will think twice before you forward a chain email message.