Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Institute for the Investigation of Irregular Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward copies of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, email viruses, taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes.

"These are not just readers of tabloids or people who buy lottery tickets based on fortune cookie numbers," a spokesman said. "Most are otherwise normal people, who would laugh at the same stories if told to them by a stranger on a street corner." However, once these same people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe anything they read on the Internet.

"My immunity to tall tales and bizarre claims is all gone," reported one weeping victim. "I believe every warning message and sick child story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages are anonymous."

Another victim, now in remission, added, "When I first heard about Good Times, I just accepted it without question. After all, there were dozens of other recipients on the mail header, so I thought the virus must be true." It was a long time, the victim said, before she could stand up at a Hoaxees Anonymous meeting and state, "My name is Jane, and I've been hoaxed." Now, however, she is spreading the word. "Challenge and check whatever you read," she says.

Internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the virus, which include the following:

the willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking the urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to others a lack of desire to take three minutes to check to see if a story is true T. C. is an example of someone recently infected. He told one reporter, "I read on the Net that the major ingredient in almost all shampoos makes your hair fall out, so I've stopped using shampoo." When told about the Gullibility Virus, T. C. said he would stop reading email, so that he would not become infected. Anyone with symptoms like these is urged to seek help immediately. Experts recommend that at the first feelings of gullibility, Internet users rush to their favorite search engine and look up the item tempting them to thoughtless credence. Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community.

Courses in critical thinking are also widely available, and there is online help from many sources, including

For Virus hoaxes:
Computer Virus Myths page at www.kumite.com
Symantec Anti Virus Research Center Hoax Page at www.symantec.com
F-Secure Hoax List at www.europe.f-secure.com/hoaxes
McAfee Associates Virus Hoax List at www.mcafee.com

For Urban Legends:
The Urban Legends Web Site at www.urbanlegends.com
Urban Legends Reference Pages at www.snopes.com
About.com Urban Legends Page at www.UrbandLegends.about.com
Stiller Research Hoax Page at www.stiller.com/hoaxes
Urban Legends Research Centre at www.uirc.com
Centers for Disease Control Health Hoaxes at www.cdc.gov/hoax_rumors

For General Hoaxes, Scams, Spam, Email Chain Letters, etc.
Truth or Fiction at www.TruthorFiction.com
Scambusters at www.ScamBusters.org
Inboxer Rebellion at www.snopes2.com
Don't Spread that Hoax at www.nonProfit.net
CIAC HoaxBusters at www.HoaxBusters.ciac.org

Those people who are still symptom free can help inoculate themselves against the Gullibility Virus by reading some good material on evaluating sources, such as

Evaluating Internet Research Sources at www.virtualsalt.com

Evaluation of Information Sources at www.vuw.ac.nz/~agsmith/evaln/evaln

Lastly, as a public service, Internet users can help stamp out the Gullibility Virus by sending copies (Click Here) of the following message to anyone who forwards them a suspected hoax.

This message is so important, we're sending it anonymously! Forward it to all your friends right away! Don't think about it! This is not a chain letter! This story is true! Don't check it out! This story is so timely, there is no date on it! This story is so important, we're using lots of exclamation points! For every message you forward to some unsuspecting person, the Home for the Hopelessly Gullible will donate ten cents to itself. (If you wonder how the Home will know you are forwarding these messages all over creation, you're obviously thinking too much.)

Use your system's Cut/Paste features in the Menu Bar after you highlight the area with your mouse. Or you can email me the names and I will do that.

ACT NOW! DON'T DELAY! LIMITED TIME! NOT SOLD IN ANY STORE! - or - Return to my home page Click Here.