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BBB Tip of the Week: Be suspicious

Age of Reason? Try age of suspicion. There is such a thing as carrying a conspiracy theory too far. I recently blogged on about Domain Name System changer malware. According to the FBI, lots of American computers have been infected with this virus. If you don’t get rid of it before July 9, when the temporary clean DNS servers set up by the FBI go offline, you could lose Internet access. One of my readers posted a comment indicating a) her severe skepticism that there actually was a virus and b) her belief that if she clicked any FBI links, Big Brother might “infect” her computer with monitoring software. Now, I understand an innate distrust of government institutions. I cultivate a healthy skepticism myself.

Snake oil believers: However, I’ve seen too many conspiracy theories that ignore hard evidence, science or facts that don’t fit in favor of fear and prejudice. And I’ve listened to a lot of gullible people who call the BBB offices firmly convinced that whatever snake oil they’re being sold is a miracle. The frustrating part is they’re willing to trust a lottery scammer, but they’re skeptical of BBB staff telling them it’s a fraud.

Take responsibility: As I heard on public radio not long ago, “You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.” Take responsibility for what you think, say and believe. Examine your favorite theories periodically and ask: Why do I believe this? What is the evidence? What’s behind my support of this idea? In this vein, I’ll admit that I believe Princess Diana’s death was not an accident. However, I have come to realize that this belief stems from my distrust of extremely powerful and wealthy people like the royals, who seem to have done so little to deserve it.

As for that DNS changer malware? The FBI has identified and notified some victims. But you can also visit to:

• Learn about DNS changer malware and how it can affect your computer.

• Check your computer’s DNS settings.

• Register as a victim of the DNS changer malware.

Holly Doering, BBB editor