Opinion by Patricia L Johnson
Encarta, North American, English dictionary defines a hoax as “an act intended to trick people into believing something is real when it is not”.
You can call it a hoax, myth, folklore, rumor, misinformation, prank, fraud, deception, legend, fairytale, gossip, tale, scam, scheme, swindle or any number of items but the fact remains what you are being sent is simply not true.
How do you know it’s a hoax? It’s really difficult to tell. I’ve had people, who are otherwise highly intelligent, send me e-mails that were so absurd in nature they had to be flagged as hoaxes, yet they weren’t; they were passed on to ‘save the world’. The reason is most of us do not have the time available to check on the validity of each and every e-mail we receive.
My rule of thumb on e-mails is simple – if it sounds too stupid to be true, it probably isn’t. When it comes to e-mails that are political in nature, I jump on them like a hungry dog on a bone because of the seriousness of passing them on as they stand.
Most voters want to be well-informed on the issues. They want to know all about the dirt out there that’s surrounding their candidate or the opposing candidate, or the party; but passing the e-mail on, simply perpetuates the lies.
Does anyone out there really think the Republicans would have taken over the U.S. House in the mid-terms if it hadn’t been for the mountains of phony e-mails that were sent out in the year preceding the election? I don’t.
Historically, fear has been used against U.S. voters and we continue to eat it up. Remember the non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction? Remember the one about Congress not paying into Social Security or continuing to draw the same pay until they die? How about President Obama redoing the White House in a Muslim motif? How about the one saying Congress had passed a law stating illegal immigrants could collect Social Security benefits? Remember the Muslim stamp ordered by President Obama? How about former Governor Palin’s comments about Death Panels? This one still annoys me, because it cost the elderly a benefit that could have proved beneficial to many.
How about the one saying President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. – I think this one has to be my favorite… how long exactly do you think the Republicans would allow Obama to continue to sit in the Oval office if they could actually prove he was born outside the U.S.?
All of these myths and thousands of others have been ‘debunked’ at any number of resources. Take a quick look at the following FAQ’s from Hoax Busters – just click on the question for the answer, as they’re all links.
There are excellent sources on the internet for debunking these myths, just insert hoax in the search box on Google, or your search engine of choice. Following are a few suggestions – Fact Check, Snopes, Hoax Busters,
© 2011 Patricia L Johnson