How To Spot Chain E-mail FUD

Warning!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.

That Chain E-mail Your Friend Sent to You Is Likely Bogus. Seriously. | FactCheck.org

Steel ‘Velcro’


Need to keep something heavy stuck to a wall? Fire proof Velcro sneakers for Iron Man? Maybe you just want a better way to hang your solid rocket boosters off your space ship. Super industrial strength steel hook and loop to the rescue!

Hook and loop fasteners have become commonplace features of both industry and households. However, they have one snag: they are too weak for many applications. Hook and loop fasteners made of spring steel have now been developed at the Institute of Metal Forming and Casting of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. These fasteners are resistant to chemicals and can withstand a tensile load of up to 35 tonnes per square meter at temperatures as high as 800°C.

It’s called “Metaklett” if you want to try and find some.

Extreme steel ‘Velcro’ – Physorg

Home page (translated from German by Google)

Pass the bread, I want healthy arteries

Yeah, I know the title of this post is misleading but you have to admit it’s funny. I’m all for eating a well balanced diet, all this no-carb high veg diet stuff has never sounded healthy to me. Sure, you shouldn’t be eating a pound of pretzels followed but 2 liters of diet soda every night. You do that and you had better ring up the funeral home of your choice and reserve a spot. Moderation must be the key to all this ‘food is good/bad for you’ nonsense. Have a hand full of pretzels and few gulps of soda and go find something else to do to distract you from your zombie like mouth stuffing habits. I suggest taking up juggling or learning card tricks. The world needs more juggling prestidigitators.

BBC NEWS | Health | Low-carb diets ‘damage arteries’.

Elektor USA

3-USA-IssuesSoon versions of the British electronics enthusiast magazine will be hitting American book store shelves.

Elektor Electronics is a British magazine that aims to inspire people to master electronics at any level by presenting construction projects and spotting developments in electronics and information technology. Every issue is packed with innovative articles, simple and complex construction projects, news, reviews, columns, and more.

I’m looking forward to reading it, hard to find good electronics projects magazines these days.

Elektor USA

Validity of Information, How to Be A BS Detective

mess of wiresWhen I think about how easy it is to find information on the Internet I have to pause to wonder just how accurate is that information? Back in the day you had to go to a library or dust off a volume of the household encyclopedia to get the facts on a subject. Now you just have to do a Google search of scan the Wikipedia article on it. That’s all well and good but just how do you know what you’re reading is correct? The books and periodicals that are in the library are a trusted source because publishers have fact checkers that fix incorrect data before a bazillion copies are made. Not so on the wild Internet. It’s tough to sort out the facts from the BS and like the author of the bellow mentioned article says you need to be a bit of a detective.  He outlines a number of ways to see the clues that offer insight into whether what your reading is on the mark or is crackpot nonsense. These ‘rules of thumb’ are also part of being a critical thinker.  I’m fond of saying that you should keep an open mind but don’t let it fall out. Think of critical thinking as a bungie cord for your brain. Enough give to move about but keeps everything all together when the going is rough. Enjoy the article and I hope this helps you while you navigate the ‘Net.


[via Skepchick]

Crap Detection 101