Public Service Announcement (Was: E-mail Postage Taxes ?)

Firebeard stend+samba at
Sat Jun 5 05:26:34 GMT 1999

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, e-mail 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 Hoaxes 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 e-mail, 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

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

* Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability at 
* Symantec Anti Virus Research Center at 
* The Urban Legends Web Site at
* Urban Legends Reference Pages at
* Datafellows Hoax Warnings at

Lastly, as a public service, Internet users can help stamp out the
Gullibility Virus by sending copies of this message to anyone who
forwards them a hoax.


Forward this message 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.)

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