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>             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, 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 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 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
>  community.
>  Courses in critical thinking are also widely available, and
>  there is on-line help from many sources, including:
>  -- Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability at
>  http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html
>  -- Symantec Anti Virus Research Center at
>  http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/index.html
>  -- McAfee Associates Virus Hoax List at
>  http://www.mcafee.com/support/hoax.html
>  -- Dr. Solomons Hoax Page at
>  http://www.drsolomons.com/vircen/hoax.html
>  -- The Urban Legends Web Site at
>  http://www.urbanlegends.com
>  -- Urban Legends Reference Pages at
>  http://www.snopes.com
>  -- Datafellows Hoax Warnings at
>  http://www.Europe.Datafellows.com/news/hoax.htm
>  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
>  http://www.sccu.edu/faculty/R_Harris/evalu8it.htm
>  -- Evaluation of Information Sources at
>  http://www.vuw.ac.nz/~agsmith/evaln/evaln.htm
>  -- Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources at
>  http://refserver.lib.vt.edu/libinst/critTHINK.HTM
>  It *is* possible to design responsible alerts for people to circulate
>  on the Internet.  Here is a how-to that draws positive conclusions
>  from long experience with the evils of badly designed alerts:
>  -- Designing Effective Action Alerts for the Internet at
>  http://weber.ucsd.edu/~pagre/alerts.html
>  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.

		73 de
		     Brent Venis

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