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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, E-Mail viruses,
taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes [perhaps conspiracy
theories should be included here].

"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

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 e-mail, 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
* Rob Rosenberger's "Reality Check on viruses"
at Loading...
* Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability at
* The Urban Legends Web Site at URBANLEGENDS.COM* The Stiller Research virus hoax page
at: http://www.stiller.com\hoaxes.htmThose 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 at
http://www.sccu.edu/faculty/R_Harris/evalu8it.htm* Evaluation of Information Sources at
Evaluation of information sources* Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources at
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.

Forward this message 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 exclamationpoints!!! 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.)
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