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 [perhaps conspiracy theories should be included

"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

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

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

* McAfee Associates Virus Hoax List

* Dr. Solomons Hoax Page

* 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 sending copies of this message to anyone who
forwards them a hoax. 

 This message is so important, we're sending it anonymously!  Forward
it to all your friends right away!  Don't think about it!  This is not
a chain letter!  This story is true!  Don't check it out!  This story
is so timely, there is no date on it!  This story is so important,
we're using lots of exclamation points!  For every message you forward
to some unsuspecting person, the Home for the Hopelessly Gullible will
donate ten cents to itself..  (If you wonder how the Home will know you
are forwarding these messages all over creation, you're obviously
thinking too much.)

Back to Homepage