"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Who Starts This Stuff?

Sweetie got an email the other day telling her that August has been a really special month this year. It has five Sundays, five Mondays and five Tuesdays! Further, this won’t happen for another 823 years!!

First thought was, how interesting… then, wait a minute… that is because there are 31 days in August (all of the time) and the first landed on a Sunday (happens on average every seven years) this year.  2004 was the last time and 2021 is the next, in case you care.

How often do we see this sort of nonsense on the internet or in an email, stuff that is just plain crazy, and obviously false, and just let it go?

If people can get away with something as obviously wrong as this, then how hard can it be to convince everyone that _________s (fill in the blank with your particular target group) are truly evil and should be eliminated, by making up some sort of nasty story and giving it an authoritative spin?

I do love the internet, but there is little we can do after nonsense is out there to track it down and root it out.  What we can do is remind everyone, especially children that their computer is not an authoritative source on anything. Do them a favour; encourage them to develop and maintain a good 'crap-detector'.


  1. That sounds similar one of those full of crap chain emails, that get passed around all the time, spamming up the internet. I despise those things. Even though filled with inaccuracies, people often take their content for granted and pass them on to others. Many of them are in big bold colorful font, double or even triple spaced, and often filled with religious or patriotic platitudes and cute or emotionally provocative pictures. They usually encourage you to send them on to ten or fifteen others, to get the word out or to receive some kind of blessing. I never pass them on to anyone else. I just delete them.

    Melissa XX

  2. Of course you also know that if you type "google" into Google you can break the internet!
    (apologies to Graham Linehan for repeating his joke),
    [of course typing "Bing" into Bing brings up nothing at all]

  3. My favourite twist on this is Wikipedia as an authoritative source of information. So, a prankster alters a wikipedia page to say that celeb A has died in a freak rain of fishes. Idiot journalist B picks up on this and runs it in paper C which is then used as authoritative reference to back up the original wikipedia flasehood. Thus are facts made on the internet.

  4. Reminds me of the one that's been going around for years about Mars being closer to the earth than ever and that it won't happen again in our lifetimes.

    I totally hate chain letters, which have only become worse via email. I never send them on, and often return them with a Snopes URL debunking whatever the message claims.

  5. @Melissa: sometimes they even tell you that a huge hickey will appear on your nose if you don't forward this on to thirty people... (or something like that) ;P

    @Veronica; replying with a snopes quote one too many times has resulted in some correspondents removing me from their list (Whaaaa I am so upset about that). Obviously some people are not interested in knowing the truth.

  6. Ironically my internet connection has been playing up since I wrote my earlier comment (honest). Either a) one of you girls typed "Google" into google; or b) I need to inform 50 people that if you take the first letter of the chapter titles in Harry Potter it spells "The bible is a bit silly" I can feel that Hickey even now..
    Still if the world does end in 2012 my scepticism will look pretty damn silly. Honestly is this the 21st Century or the 11th?

  7. Last time Jim had fun with internet nonsense, he was able to turn the tables in an albeit nice way. A friend of his had read something and was compelled to call Jim on the phone and share. Jim's BS detector sounded the klaxon, and not only did he immediately go to Snopes, he started reading the post WORD FOR WORD along with his friend. It took a while for the friend to catch on to what was happening but soon got the point.

    There's one really irritating part of these emails that have been around the world and back several times. The looooong headers. It's easy to forward. It's just as easy to cut or copy and paste. I get the impression the task of "cut and throw away" has a really steep learning curve, else more would be doing it. Some of these headers are longer than the email. Such tedium!

  8. What gets me is just how gullable supposedly inteligent people are...

    A friend of mine had a similar email earlier in the year for a different month from a 'trusted friend who knows these things'. I smelt something from the back end of a bull and decided to do a quick fact check (looked in my outlook calendar) and found that that particular scenario happens every 11 months or so. Even when I pointed this out to my friend he was not convinced I was right as his friend would not send something so wrong.

    I think the thing that made me thing bull was the timeline mentioned was so ridiculous - 3000+ years IIRC - that just set alarm bells ringing in my head. Had it have been 3 years or 5 I'd have thought 'hmm, OK' and left it; but such a long timeline suggested someone was going for the wow factor a little too much.