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Inundated by Email Hoaxes
March 12, 2002
By James G. Wilson

How many of you out there receive emails now and then "exposing" politicians for their evil deeds, bad quotes, estimated IQs or other misinformation? How many of you believe them outright and pass them along to everyone in your address books as the messages invariably direct you to do? Goodness knows that I have received more than my fair share of these email hoaxes, and it is time to start "exposing" them as the garbage they are.

Here is the top five that have arrived in my inbox:

5.) Gold Star Mothers

This one asserts that Hillary Rodham Clinton insulted Gold Star Mothers by "refusing to meet with them." A quick check of the Gold Stars Mothers website itself debunks this email as a hoax. But, people don't research these emails and just pass them on. Here is a link to more info on this hoax: http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/refpages/goldstarmoms.htm

4.) Ollie North Names Osama bin Laden in 1987

Oliver North, himself, discredits this as a hoax. It took me less than 30 seconds to do a search on Google to find his remarks: Click here to read them.

3.) Goreisms

Republicans started showing their desperation about the (then) upcoming 2000 presidential election by recycling Dan Quayle quotes and attributing them to Al Gore. Of course, gullible conservatives were all-too-eager to run with this hoax. Placing any one of the quotes listed in the email into a search engine invariably shows (with dates) Dan Quayle first uttered them.

However, even at least one of the misspeaks that Quayle (and now Gore) supposedly made has been shown to be only a joke. The one about going to Latin American but not speaking Latin is explained at: http://www.snopes2.com/quotes/quayle.htm Another site explains more credibly the whole issue of switching the Quayle quotes to Gore quotes: http://www.ssqq.com/archive/intern01.htm

2.) Presidential IQs

Click here for a full explanation of this hoax started in the summer of 2001.

1.) Election Day 2000 Changed

This hoax tried to convince voters that two election days were needed because polling places expected too high a volume of traffic on the scheduled day. I've seen both versions of Democrats and Republicans being told that they would have to wait until the following day to vote since the other party was designated to vote on Tuesday. Here is a link to more info on this hoax: http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/weekly/aa110100a.htm

If an email directs you to "send this email to everyone you know!!!" consider it suspect until you can verify the information in it. There are credible sources on the net to check out the validity of many of these potentially bogus emails. The one I use most often is: http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org.

Many emails often warn of new computer viruses that turn out to be hoaxes. Always check out: http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/hoax.html before forwarding any "virus alerts" to others. Hopefully we, as an internet community, can stop the unsubstantiated rumor mills that produce these hoaxes from being so effective by checking these sites first.

Now, if only we could reduce the SPAM!!!


James G. Wilson is webmaster of America Held Hostile

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