Why Hoaxes Work


I am constantly amazed why e-mail hoaxes still work, even to this day. Haven’t we been warned for several years now to look for the obvious signs of an Internet hoax? Haven’t we’ve been informed of sites like www.snopes.com and www.hoax-slayer.com? Then why, oh why do people continue to pass around such garbage?

Human nature. People get excited or intrigued by an interesting e-mail, and due to what — the gossip gene? — they send it out to all their friends, aquaintances, and even strangers in their address book to share this exciting news. Seriously, it is understandable, being a human being myself (or so they say).

But, please, people — please check these sites BEFORE sending it out to the world. And look for the tell tale signs of a hoax — large letters, some text in color, and outrageous statements, such as — “This won’t happen again in our lifetimes!”, or “Send this to all of your friends and family!”. Those are glaring hints that this is a hoax.

I never trust anything sent to me with a long list of recipients (another thing — please do NOT include every recipient of your “spam” in the “To” or “CC” fields. Sent it only to yourself, and place all other addresses in the “BCC” field so that you aren’t giving out everyone’s e-mail address to everyone else). I have learned to never trust any such messages, and always check these sites (and do a newsgroup search) before passing any such e-mails around. Even then, I often play it safe and don’t send these e-mails around.


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