OMG...Could this be true?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DDD, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    A friend (an intelligent, educated friend) sends emails with facts and others that are humorous. I just read one of "little known facts". One of the facts is "Susan Lucci is the daughter of Phyllis Diller".

    Could that be true? The other entries make sense but that one is mindboggling. DDD
  2. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    LOL I did a online search, nothing but both names together, and found out it wasn't true. That would be a hilarious thing though!
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    husband & I have become expert at researching this sort of stuff, even though it really is easy. We've got a few friends each who tend to broadcast this sort of stuff in a panic (or in excitement) and then when we send them our more considered response, we ask them to contact everyone they sent it to, with a retraction. We've also suggested that people IGNORE the blackmailing pleas to "send this to ten of your best friends urgently or you cannot call yourself a friend" type of messages at the end.

    It's important to THINK first, then check it out.

    We've tried to teach them. But what has happened? Perhaps it's a second choice, but they send the emails to us first, asking our opinion. Well' at least they're not broadcasting it.

    The way to check the validity of these emails is to look for a particularly distinctive part of the message. If it mentions a person's name, that can be a good start.
    For example, here is an example from a recent email of this type, it's about the fourth indicator of strokes - the tongue. Here is one of the first sentences - "Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue".
    Now this alone could be enough to do a search. These emails get forwarded a lot, and forwarded again. IN the process some people along the way will change a few words here or there either to make it more readable, or to correct what they perceive as a spelling mistake, or perhaps to make it seem even more personally relevant in order to increase the chance of you sending it on. For example, if the sender really feels strongly about the message and is desperate to ensure it gets sent further, but is concerned that people won't pay enough attention, they may add a personal anecdote. "Yu may remember my friend Cheryl - well, this happened to her only last week. So PLEASE forward this on, it can save lives."
    The entreaty doesn't increase the chance of this being true.

    So, back to our choice phrase - try to pick one you feel has a low risk of having been manipulated along the way. So if using a fragment that has someone's name in it doesn't get you any useful info, then try another phrase.

    Next - plug the phrase into Google, but BETWEEN DOUBLE QUOTE MARKS. If you don't use quote marks, the phrase "Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue" will look for all documents that have the words "blood", "clots/stroke", "they", "now" and so on somewhere in the document. These occurrences could be widely separated. Included in your hits will be a lot of "noise", documents such as "the viscosity of the blood can have an impact to the extent of clots/stroke. Doctors now believe that the use of blood thinners is often inappropriate; they feel that further investigations are warranted..."

    You get the idea.

    But if you put it into Google with double quote marks on either side of the quote, then Google will search for just that string of words where they occur in just that configuration.

    Use this technique in other situations too. Let's say you're having a conversation and someone says, "I can never remember the second verse of 'Advance Australia Fair', that idiotic Aussie national anthem," and you want to find out. If you simply Google "Advance Australia Fair" without double quote marks on either side, you will get a great deal of noise. And even if you get a reference to the song, it may only give the first verse. Or you might get the tune. But if you know a line form the first verse such as "Australians all let us rejoice" and you plug that in, you have a better chance of finding what you want.

    It's a great technique for the kids when they are researching the 'Net for homework.

    And really, it's all husband & I do, when we're researching a possibly dud email for our friends. And they think we're geniuses!

  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    LOL - Marg - great post. We have a security officer at work who forwards some of this stuff on to the entire installation. I just delete them. Hoaxbusters is another good site to use.

    I got in trouble a while back when I checked one out, found out it wasn't true and responded to this guy. My bad for telling him it was incorrect! I was polite and sent him my proof. Got a verbal warning for being insubordinate. LOVELY.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Out of maybe 15 or 20 "facts" that was the only one that caught my attention as being suspect. Most of them were historical facts. ;)

    I don't know about you all but I am sick of receiving forwards. The old people usually send government ones that are one sided. The younger ones forward either prayer chains (makes you feel like a heathen when you don't forward, lol) or personal preference questionaires (these remind me of Jr. High when we used to pass "slam books" around to our friends).

    Just call me heathen instead of DDD. :redface:
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

  8. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    The Susan Lucci- Phyllis Diller one is an old rumor.

    Last week, one of my friends sent me a "news story" that had Al Sharpton lambasting Tiger Woods for not cheating on his wife with African-American women! I am a NY'er and not the hugest Al Sharpton fan (though I do respect his obvious intellect and his passion for his causes) but this just seemed too out there. Condoning infidelity just does not seem like a Sharpton thing to do. I ran it through Snopes and then sent my friend a note that asked her to check her sources. She later sent an e-mail retraction around.

    Snopes is a great site.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I hate it when the person who sends you the rubbish then gets angry when you shoot it down. But if I DON'T shoot it down then tis person will continue on their merry way spreading misinformation and increasing the tendency of people to simply press 'forward' without thinking or questioning.

    Even the media do this, increasingly. In a newspaper/magazine office, press releases flood in all the time. Many of them are thinly disguised (or not disguised at all) advertising for this product or that. "Researchers are thrilled with their latest discovery - a treatment to eliminate obesity, once and for all!" You look into it (if you have a brain) and discover that the "researchers" are the company's own R & D people; that nothing has been published in peer review journals (thereby giving it some scientific validity) and that it comes with a hefty price tag and no guarantees.
    But reporters who these days seem too lazy or too busy to take the time out to actually do an interview, or do some independent research, simply take the press release verbatim and put their own name to it. The company, by working their advertising as a press releases, wins because it gets published as a news story (and therefore they don't have to pay the hefty advertising fee for it) plus by having it labelled as news, people will be more likely to believe it to be true.

    In the past a reporter doing this would be sacked. But these days it is done all the time. The journal I worked for (for a while) used to get the company to also pay for an ad and would ten put the ad plus the article (usually written by the company's advertising people, never by us) right next to the ad. That way they capitalised on the coverage, plus got a boost in sales. Highly immoral, the Press Council should have taken action but again, not these days...

    I ALWAYS reply to debunk an email, but I do recognise that you have to be really diplomatic. With your security bloke, Step, if you've expressed your response as diplomatically as possible, "Thank you for your recent interesting email. Unfortunately, it is not true, although we may wish it to be. I have included for your information some other background research into this very topic."

    If he accuses you of insubordination after that, then he's clearly trying to cause trouble. Unless he is the sort of person who has to know everything, has to always be right, has to control everyone else's opinions and doesn't like to be disagreed with. Someone I know (I avoid calling her a friend) does this - she sends out either misinformation (although she's getting better at checking it out) or strongly biased political right-wing stuff (often US-based but disguised as Australian) and ten gets really upset if I even reply. One time I replied and worded it very carefully; I even made it look as if I was agreeing with her, but she detected a hint of "I have a different view on this" and attacked me by return email. I think all I said was, "It was very interesting to read those opinions. There are a wide range of views on this topic, it is a very difficult problem." She picked up on the "wide range of views" and accused me of "shoving your left wing propaganda down my throat."
    As if she hadn't just shoved her (actually someone else's, but adopted by her even though she doesn't understand it) right-wing propaganda down the throats of everyone in her address book!

    At least I had the option of cutting off contact with this person. It's not so easy in the workplace. However, surely if he keeps this up, you could let the boss know that this is happening? It does waste office time and energy, especially if he gets abusive about your response saying you don't want it and it's not relevant. Unless he IS the boss, of course...