The Internet Gullibility Virus

WARNING, CAUTION, DANGER, AND BEWARE!
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, email viruses, taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes.

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"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 email, 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 online help from many sources, including:
Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability

Symantec Anti Virus Research Center

Network Associates Virus Hoax List

The Urban Legends Web Site

Urban Legends Reference Pages

Datafellows Hoax Warnings
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

Evaluation of Information Sources

Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources
Lastly, as a public service, Internet users can help stamp out the Gullibility Virus by referring people who send out virus warnings to this page!

This warning is the work of Marc Salverson and is hosted here as a public service.

Bonus! The most terrible chain-letter yet!
(Author unknown -- if you know, let me know!)


I know this guy whose neighbor, a young man, was home recovering from having been served a rat in his bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. He had just finished watching that true-story movie where someone lets a little alligator go in the sewers of New York and it grows up to eat half the city. So anyway, he went to sleep and when he awoke he was in his bathtub and it was full of ice and he was sore all over.

When he got out of the tub he realized that HIS KIDNEYS HAD BEEN STOLEN and he saw a note on his mirror that said "Call 911!" But he was afraid to use his phone because it was connected to his computer, and there was a virus on his computer that would destroy his hard drive if he opened an e-mail entitled "Join the crew!" He knew it wasn't a hoax because he himself was a computer programmer who was working on software to save us from Armageddon when the year 2000 rolls around. His program will prevent a global disaster in which all the computers get together and distribute the $600 Nieman Marcus cookie recipe under the leadership of Bill Gates. (It's true-I read it all last week in a mass e-mail from BILL GATES HIMSELF, who was also promising me a free Disneyworld vacation and $5,000 if I would forward the e-mail to everyone I know.)

The poor man then tried to call 911from a pay phone to report his missing kidneys, but reaching into the coin-return slot he got jabbed with an HIV-infected needle around which was wrapped a note that said, "Welcome to the world of AIDS."

He tried to hail a pizza-delivery driver, but the driver didn't see him because he was too busy masterbating on the pizza he was delivering.

Luckily he was only a few blocks from the hospital-the one, actually, where that little boy who is dying of cancer is, the one whose last wish is for everyone in the world to send him an e-mail and the American Cancer Society has agreed to pay him a nickel for every e-mail he receives. I sent him two e- mails and one of them was a bunch of x's and o's in the shape of an angel (if you get it and forward it to twenty people you will have good luck but ten people you will only have ok luck and if you send it to less than ten people you will have BAD LUCK FOR SEVEN YEARS).

So anyway the poor guy tried to drive himself to the hospital, but on the way he noticed another car driving along without his lights on. To be helpful, he flashed his lights at him and was promptly shot as part of a gang initiation.

And it's a little-known fact that the Y1K problem caused the Dark Ages.

You must pass this letter on to 10 people or you will be audited by the I.R.S.

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