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Opinion

Fri., Jan. 1, 2010

Check out facts before spreading e-mails

The coming year means new whoppers will soon be dropping into e-mail inboxes. Many of the claims will be false. Most will be designed to instill fear, which appears to be the consistent theme of those pass-round electronic hoaxes.

One would think that two wars, a huge budget deficit and an uncertain economic recovery after the worst meltdown since the Great Depression would be sufficient material for fear-mongers. But to the peddlers of political nonsense, that isn’t good enough. So before you hit the “Forward” and “Send” buttons, here are a few tips just in case you’re interested in the truth.

Bookmark these Web sites: Snopes.com, Factcheck.org, Truthorfiction.com and Politifact.com. Or, pluck a phrase from that forwarded e-mail and drop it into an Internet search engine. You’ll find that if this baloney were bologna, the accumulated cholesterol would be off the charts.

Now, depending on how important it is to keep good relations with the relations who keep sending you recycled lies, you can quietly delete the e-mail or hit “Reply all” and link them to the facts. Or, if you’re feeling cheeky, you can save them all up and send out a mass debunking each year.

Dear Uncle Irv,

Judging from the volume of e-mail horrors you’ve forwarded in 2009, one can deduce that you’re suffering from a dangerous amount of stress. Enclosed in this e-mail you’ll find that you were worried about nothing.

There will be no government “death panels” ruminating on the amount of time you have left on Earth. No illegal immigrants will be receiving free health care insurance. More than 10 percent of the Obama administration has worked in the private sector.

Sorry, but this one might disturb you. That photo of all those Tea Party protesters cramming the Capitol Mall? It’s actually a 1997 photo of a gathering of Promise Keepers.

The president is not a radical Muslim who attended a madrassah in a foreign land. He is, in fact, a U.S. citizen who attended a Christian church for many years. You might have heard of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Anyway, Barack Obama is eligible to be president. He was not sworn into the Senate with the Quran.

While the thwarted terrorist attack on Christmas Day is concerning, you can disregard that horror story of the “dress rehearsal” of would-be Muslim terrorists who belligerently refused to turn off their cell phones on an airplane. And to save you a few bucks, please note that the purported gun-grabbing by the feds hasn’t occurred, so you can stop stocking up on weapons and ammo.

Sincerely,

Your loving nephew

We do hope that 2010 will bring more joy and happiness and fewer real-world events that trigger anxiety. To fend off faux fears, we recommend the aforementioned fact-checking advice so you won’t get fooled again.



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