Twelve Popular Myths

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 Here are twelve common myths about The Internet and e-mail messaging:

  1. Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. MTV will not give you backstage passes if you forward something to the most people. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true". Furthermore, just because someone said in the message, four generations back, that "we checked it out and it's legit," does not actually make it true.
  2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, please see:; and I quote:
bullet"The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have."

That's "none" as in "zero." Not even your friend's cousin. Besides, you would probably never wake up in a bathtub full of ice since you'd have already died of hypothermia.

  1. 3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy at:  Then, if you make the recipe, decide the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on.
  2. If the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) did contain plutonium that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you really think this information would reach the public via an AOL chain-letter?
  3. There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever forward any e-mail containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with viruses. Try: And even then, don't forward it. Most people don't care. And you cannot get a virus from a flashing IM or email, you have to download something, like a file.
  4. If your CC: list is regularly longer than the actual content of your message, you need to write more.
  5. If you're using Outlook, Internet Explorer, or Netscape to write e-mail, turn off the "HTML encoding." Those of us on Unix shells can't read it, and don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a web browser, since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.
  6. If you still absolutely must forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months. And, it sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the ""(or the >) that begin each line. Besides, if it has gone around that many times--we've probably already seen it.
  7. Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman, etc.) in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is also no longer a "little boy" either.
  8. The "Make a Wish" foundation is a real organization doing fine work, but they have had to establish a special toll free hotline in response to the large number of Internet hoaxes using their good name and reputation. It is distracting them from the important work they do.
  9. If you are one of those folks who forwards anything that promises "something bad will happen if you don't," then something bad might happen to you the next time I see you.
  10. Women really are suffering in Afghanistan, and PBS and NEA funding are still vulnerable to attack (although not at the present time) but forwarding an email won't help either cause in the least. As a general rule, e-mail "signatures" are easily faked and mean nothing to anyone with any power to do anything about whatever the petition is complaining about.

P.S. There is no bill pending before Congress that will allow long distance companies to charge you for long distance when using The Internet.

Bottom Line ... composing email or posting something on the Net is as easy as writing on the walls of a public restroom. Don't automatically believe it; unless it's proven true ... assume it's false. Now, forward this message to ten friends and you will win the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.


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Copyright 1996 - 2012 by David J. Wardell.  All Rights Reserved.

Revised: Friday, May 23, 2003 02:22:47 AM