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Flim-Flam Subsection (Rumors)

NOTE: If you can't find what you're looking for in a category you believe it should be, check the "Specials", and other categories, or search for them yourself using my Research Links.

Prologue

Either I'm getting older and care more, or maybe I'm becoming curmudgeonly in my old age - I don't know. What I do know is that many of the unbelievable urban legends, virus hoaxes and lists, especially trivia lists, have come to me as "true", "real" and things I should worry about and/or know. The problem is that a major portion of these emails have been "false", "fake", "lies" and things I believe NO ONE should worry about or believe as right.

For myself, my family, friends and friends of friends to whom I forward many of these emails under the guise of a "joke letter", I've researched many of these claims. THIS page and those linked to it below, are my attempt to give those educators and others the truth about these items.

Please know that unless stated otherwise, the majority of my research is done online. Unless Snopes (whom I trust thoroughly) or some other source I use has obviously researched the items in question, I will also attempt to find more than one source for each result (unless a source I find has other links to THEIR sources), and I will provide at least some of the links I find. For some of these (especially the Trivia Lists), sometimes a single item may take hours and sometimes it may only take a couple of minutes -- I need to find the right combination of words to use in the search, especially to avoid the majority of the sites with these duplicated emails. In many cases, I may even make a comment or smart (or smart-alek) remark about the item in question or something else it or it's research has brought to mind. Yes.. for the latter there are times I will try to be amusing. ;-)

For the most part, I will use the title of the email I received as a link (below) to my research pages. If no title was given, I will provide one. If I know of other "titles" for the same list, I will include them as AKAs on the linked pages. Click on the title, below, and you will be taken to the page where the email as I received it, and my information on each item/point may be found.

Please do not "borrow" (read "steal") my research or comments and use it as your own. While, normally, the actual emails are freely available all over the internet, I have taken time -- sometimes a lot of time -- to research each item (and each item on a list). CITE YOUR SOURCES, at least as I am doing. It's not that hard to cite the page from which you got the information. Go to the top of your browser window (normally), highlight or select the URL (left-click on either end and drag the cursor to the other), copy it (Control-C) and paste it (Control-V) into your email or webpage.

I hope you find the information on the following pages ... enlightening.

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Trivia Lists
Skip to Researched Links

These are just what the subtitle says they are - Trivia Lists. The problem is most of these come to us as FACTS, and as many, if not more, people believe them as believe all those Urban Legends and Stories circulating around internet- and email-lands. ("If it's in the paper/in the news/on the 'net/sent through email, it MUST be true," Right? WRONG!) From my research, I've found that while there are some true items on many of these lists, many items are patently false, and some fall into the "gray area" between fact and fiction. (Of the latter, most cannot be proved, either way.)

I have found precious few sites that attempt to research each item on these lists, possibly because there are too many to "take the time". The problem with that is that these emails are circulated over and over, sometimes with items recycled from other lists or emails, sometimes with fewer items, sometimes with more, and the more we, as humans, see something that appears to come from different sources, the more likely we are to believe them.

"Who cares?" you ask, "It's just trivia."

Yes ... These are trivia - Those mostly meaningless minutia of information that stick in our brain; that we use as conversation starters at parties and with strangers at bars (right, girls?); some of which we believe so deeply that when we find they are untrue, it's almost like losing a favorite television character, or a celebrity or newscaster you've seen your whole life and feel you've come to know. To the nostalgic and sentimental among us, it can be temporarily devastating. True, it's not like losing a (literal) loved one... the grieving process is much more condensed, and not near as strong ... (Hmmm... Maybe this is getting a little too deep, here!)

We tend to blithely read them, chuckling at times because many of them are humorous, whistling in amazement at others, and just as blithely, forward them on to family and friends. What we don't realize (and I didn't until I started researching the trivia lists), is that when some people get these emails, they slap them on their site, without any warning that some of the statements in the email may be untrue, and now lending all the items in the email some credence, because they are published "on the web" without those warnings.

Here, the problem is that many of the sites with trivia lists and others are "kid-friendly" (meaning kids learn these "facts" as true) and, amazingly, I found many of them on news and educational sites, where teachers, home-school parents, and other educators get much of the information they use to make learning more palatable. I am positive that many of those educators simply retrieve the bits of information related to whatever they are teaching, and use them in class, without researching to find out whether they are actually true or not. Now, do you want Little Johnny to believe untrue facts? Do you want him to miss questions on a test because the teacher believed one of these items to be true, when it wasn't?

It is possible/probable that you received an email with the same title and only some or even more facts listed than I am showing. This phenomenon was discussed in my opinion/rant on this subject. (Through the circulation, recycling, publication and republication of these emails to the web, things get changed, items get added, items get lost, etc.) It's also possible/probable that the title under which I received the email is not the one under which YOU received it. If so, you can send the alternate title to me, and I MAY include it as an AKA for it. For these reasons, I will NOT be listing the date on which I received the email. (The numbers, below, are just used to keep them straight, and to allow easier page referencing, for me, and for anyone who wishes to discuss an item. If there's no number/link, it's a reminder to me to find the emails and include them! ;-) )

Researched Trivia Lists

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Urban Legends
Skip to Researched Links

I don't use a "strict" definition for Urban Legends. In fact, the majority of the "rumors" from here on down show up on various "urban legend" sites, and could be considered (by me, anyway) as "Urban Legends." Personally, I like (and this site uses) Snopes' Off Site New Window definition:

"more expansive popular (if inaccurate) use of "urban legend" as a term that embraces not only urban legends but also common fallacies, misinformation, old wives' tales, strange news stories, rumors, celebrity gossip, and similar items."

(You can find this definition and more and what "Urban Legend" REALLY means at Snopes' FAQ Off Site New Window and Glossary Off Site New Window pages.)

These just don't fall into any of my other categories... No one's giving advice (good or bad) and no one's asking us to boycott or revile someone or a group or business for any reason, and there's no virus threat. Most of these have been around for a LONG time, sometimes with new stuff added as they were circulated. I have received most of them (or similar emails) many, many, (dare I say it again?) MANY times, each time debunking them.

Researched Urban Legends

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(False?) Attributions
Skip to Researched Links

These emailed statements have been attributed to someone. They may or may not be attributed correctly. Sometimes, a professional, political, or celebrity name has been attached to plans, or lists of jokes or statements that they may or may not have even seen and know nothing about. For some, they will fall under some of the other categories. I may, or may not include them in this section, too. Be sure to check the other categories, too.

For the most part, this will contain the emails for which I've found proof that the person in question DID NOT say or do whatever is listed.

Researched (False?) Attributions

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Advice
(some dumb, some unsafe and some potentially dangerous)
Skip to Researched Links

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE - For your own safety and health, NEVER believe advice from a forwarded email without researching it, yourself. Many times, people pass this advice on, believing what is said when it's WRONG. For example, the "Cough CPR" advice if you feel a Heart Attack coming on (see #009).

In the majority of the cases, the advice is just not feasible or flat-out WRONG. Please be sure to check things out (and include the links you found) before you pass along advice you receive in an email.

Researched Advice

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Attempted Assassination
(of Character)
Skip to Researched Links

Political and celebrity emails abound in internet-land.

This type of email is usually political in nature. In fact, in an election year, the count of this type of email "picks up" as people seem to believe they are doing their candidate/party some good by pointing out what may or may not be true "faults" of the opposing candidate(s)/party(ies). This is NOT true. As people find out about false accusations, many are even more "turned off" to the parties making the claim.

Other types are trying (for some reason) to declare a celebrity or someone else they dislike a "bad person", expecting the many-forwarded email to make their point for them. With celebrity (and others) in the news or on show-business shows like Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition all the time, talking about the good (and the bad... Think Mel Gibson's alleged drunken 2AM comments and the "fall out" from them)

In some cases, some have been combined with other Attempted Assassinations or Urban Legends. I will list what I consider to be each piece as sub-heading under the main subject of the email I received. If there's not a "real" name for the message, I will try to make sure that the title I use is descriptive.

Please note: If you search (I use Google) on any of the keywords or key phrases in these emails, you will find hundreds of sites, many of them extremely political, therefore not objective. If a site is obviously political or "anti-celebrity", it should be a "red flag". If you can't tell what type of site it is, there are ways:

  1. Go to the home page. I normally find it easiest to cut everything off the URL back to the extension (.COM, .ORG, .US, etc.), Many times you can tell from there. If not, look for an ABOUT link, and see what it says there.
  2. If the email is quoted on a blog or in a forum, read on. Sometimes you can tell the "slant" of the site from that. Remember, in some of those follow-up comments (if any), you'll find:
    1. some truly insightful comments
    2. some will run off on a tangent
    3. some may be assassination attempts of the prior poster(s)
    4. some will be "Gee! I didn't know that..." comments
      (These last are the ones that scare me most! and the reason I've started this page.)

Again, I believe most of these emails will be political in nature, though I have seen a few celebrity emails making the rounds. Be sure you consider most of the latter as if they came from the "National Enquirer", "Weekly World News", "Star Magazine", and other supermarket tabloids - Most people take everything that's read there with a massive grain (sometimes a whole spoonful) of salt... ("My Daughter Gave Birth to an Alien"??? [my made-up title] GEEZE!) Why can't the same be said of multiple forwarded emails?

PLEASE NOTE: I remain politically neutral in this. I don't believe votes should be obtained on either side, based on email and internet lies that the naive will believe. Get the actual facts on the person and the way they have and say they will deal with actual issues before you decide on which way to vote. Then VOTE when the time and opportunity arrives. Some of the more recent elections SHOULD have proven to even the most naive and most cynical doubter that it takes VERY few votes to put one candidate into power. (You know... "EVERY VOTE COUNTS!") And, if you DON'T vote, you have absolutely NO right to either complain or crow.

Researched Attempted Assassination (of Character)

NOTE: Four of these were originally numbered 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d. The numbers have been changed.

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Specials
Skip to Researched Links

SOME of the emails I've received appear to belong to more than one of my categories. They aren't Urban Legends, because they are true, as far as they go. The problem here is that sometimes someone will take an item (paper, article, email, whatever), that may or may not be attributed correctly. As an example, the item gives advice. The person edits it, cutting it down in length, but removing other comments and clarifications that mitigate some of the statements, and either posts it on a website or sends it out in an email. As many items like this in an email, or on a website, people forward it on to friends and family, who forward it on to ...

For example, Bill Cosby's "We Can't Blame White People", is DEFINITELY in the Attribution Category, since it's attributed to Cosby. It's also Advice, because he suggests things that can be done to correct the problems he noted. However, because the quotes were taken out of context and order, "cobbled together" into an email and sent out, apparently to promote SOMEONE'S agenda, it's an "Attempted Assassination (of Character)", either Cosby's (because those railed against don't find out the whole story), or blacks, in general. I, originally, thought of putting it into all three categories, but realized I'd need to explain why. Therefore, it's one that belongs here, Specials.

I don't know if there will be others, at this time. If there, the explanation of why they are here instead of in a "real" category will be here, too.

Researched Specials

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Virus Myths
Skip to Researched Links

The original Orange Frog Productions only mentioned Virus Myth emails (and real Virus Warnings) in passing. In the new version of OFP, I will check my email archives to include some here, and will also include any new ones I receive.

Researched Virus Myths

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Research Links
Skip to Urban Legend Links or to Virus Warnings & Myths Links

If you have ANY question about an email you receive, there are a number of sites out there (besides mine) where you can find deeper research, more explanation, and even more examples, for some.

The following are just some of the sites out there in internet-land that provide information about Rumors, Urban Legends and the like.

PLEASE, for your own (and your friends') knowledge, spend some time browsing some of these sites, to give you an idea of what type of stuff they research.

Urban Legends
[ie: Questionable Claims]

  • Urban Legend Reference Pages (aka Snopes) Off Site New Window

    As I said on my Scams, Shams, and More Flim-Flams home page, one of my favorite "first stops".
     

  • RumorMill.info -
    "... written by Steven Dahlman, a former radio and print journalist who now develops software in Minneapolis. ... These sites research claims made by email sent to real people. It must be certain that someone actually received the email recently, and itís not just floating around on the Internet from years gone by." While this site doesn't have the extensive database of Urban Legends that Snopes does, they call parties involved, and write the articles as if they are to appear in a newspaper, news magazine or news show on television or radio. (Makes sense, since Dahlman "has been News Director for three radio stations and was a reporter/anchor for others. For many years he was a regular contributor of news stories and feature material to ABC Radio etworks." He is also responsible for the "Email from Colonel Zuba" website, which lists and monitors Nigerian Scams and Scammers. (See OFPv2/SSFF - Scams - Nigerian Scam for more.)
     
  • Hoax-Slayer
    Covers a lot of the hoax emails we all receive - Urban Legends, Virus Hoaxes, Phishing Scams, etc. Wait - A COMPETITOR to MY pages? May be, but remember... I'm mostly providing links to the debunking, and providing my own comments... He's doing it. You can sign up for a free monthly newsletter about the latest hoaxes going around.
  • BreakTheChain.org
    Another very good site. In some cases quoting Snopes (above) and others, this site is dedicated to educating the public "... about the shortcomings of e-mail chain letters as a means to distribute information and to empower them to make informed, logical decisions about the information they distribute." It's goal "... is to reduce the number of people who routinely forward e-mail chain letters without questioning their validity or long-term impact and to encourage e-mail users to look not only at the facts in the messages they receive and send, but also to pay attention to how those facts are presented and recognize the limitations of e-mail as an information tool." Not as "humorous" as snopes, but just as well researched and informative.
  • TruthorFiction.com
    "...where Internet users can quickly and easily get information about eRumors, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email." If you can't find it on Snopes, maybe it's here. Rich Buhler, the founder and operator, is "a broadcaster, speaker, author, and producer who has researched and written about rumors and urban legends for more than 30 years." He is as thorough as the Mikkelsons, but descriptions are a bit "drier" and shorter.
  • About.com - Urban Legends and Folklore - One of the many About.com categories, this site's host, David Emery, "is a writer and an avid chronicler of urban folklore, with a special interest in the lore and folklife of the Internet." Another great site. While there's no specific "search page" each page has a search-box link at the top of it, allowing you to search the topic or all of About.com.
     
  • UrbanLegends.com - One of the originals, at one time I thought it was the best. It had the full text of the legend, and if I remember correctly, a good analysis of each. It now contains a list of urban legends in alphabetical order by "title", each of which contains the urban legend and, sometimes, a paragraph or two telling the reader if it is true or not. You will get minimal information about the legend's background, here. You can use the search box at the top of each page, but, be warned that besides any links to the site, it will also ask if you want to search for the phrase on eBay.
     
  • Urban Legends Research Centre - An Australian site, showing that Urban Legends are a worldwide phenomenon, especially now that the internet is so wide-spread. This site has a slightly irreverent host (Murray "Redman Lucas" Wells), who apparently in late 2003, went through a divorce, partially because of the time he spent on the site. He's keeping the research that he already did up, though, and, since Urban Legends tend to be cyclic in nature (one makes the rounds, and a year or two later, seems to be making the rounds again, and a year or two later... you get the idea), there's still a lot of good information on the site. He stated that he may activate it again at some point, and will keep it going as long as he can afford it. (Get it while it's hot!) A search box is available at the top of each page.
     
  • Scambusters
    "How to Protect Yourself From Clever Scammers -- Online and Offline. Internet ScamBusters, the #1 publication on Internet fraud, shows you the ins and outs of protecting yourself from all the newest scams. It's a public service, published 2 to 4 times a month, and provides you with a lively, entertaining and opinionated approach to protecting yourself online and offline." - Worth a look. The actual articles are below the box advertising their newsletter. A GOOGLE search box for the site and the web is at the bottom of each page.
    • Direct to ScamBusters' Urban Legends Page - Don't Believe Everything You Read - "Internet ScamBusters Urban Legends and Hoaxes Resource Center lets you quickly find out whether popular (and usually 'urgent') emails are true -- or whether they are urban legends or hoaxes." - A listing of some of the more popular email urban legends.
       
  • Lies, Damn Lies & ICQ Messages
    Apparently started when all those ICQ messages started coming through informing us that ICQ was going to start charging for their "free" service, this site has grown to include much more. Still more specifically ICQ-oriented, the author has "branched out" to include information about some of his "favorite" urban legend and hoax emails. "The purpose of this site is to combat disinformation with the most powerful weapon of all: the truth. Here you will find archives of past and current rumors, tips for protecting yourself from malicious attacks, thoughts about the future of Mirabilis and links to other resources. In addition to providing you with some useful information, I also hope to entertain you as we turn the tables on the pranksters who start these false rumors. So, if you are ready to put your fears to rest, become a more responsible Netizen and have a few laughs, join me for a look at Lies, Damn Lies and ICQ Messages." A search box is available about 2/3-3/4 of the way down the home page. Otherwise, you can just browse through, and see some of the "junk" messages and emails and information about them.
     
  • CIAC HoaxBuster Pages
    The US Department of Energy staff was apparently receiving and forwarding so many urban legend and virus hoax emails that they set up a page for security to inform the organization about what was real and what was not - apparently hoping against all hope to stem the tide of hoaxes filling their email boxes - and left it open to the public. Seems there were enough hoaxes and urban legends out there that they now have a "hoaxmaster" and a separate site to handle the hoaxes.
  • Korova Multimedia - Hoax du Jour - Korova Multimedia is "... a wide-ranging consulting and education platform for a variety of projects." "Hoax du Jour" is "... a recurring column providing updated information and commentary on the Internet community." A section in the middle of the page allows you to go to a "Sightings" forum, a link to a "Search the Forums" page, the latest "Hoax du Jour" column, and way to search the columns for a word or name.

Virus Warnings and Hoaxes

For specifically virus warnings, sometimes the Urban Legend links above may have information on it, but, to lend credence to your reply, show you have checked out a virus-specific site.

And, again, please be sure you have an updated virus scanner running at all times. It may slow down your computer, some, but that's MUCH better than having your computer completely die, with everything you treasure wiped from or inaccessible on the drive!

  • Vmyths.com (UPDATE: 11/14/2006 - Appears to be going away. Some items are there, and others, including pages, are not. I have not removed this link in case it comes back.)
    "Vmyths ... has changed over the years, but ... remains true to its original goal: the eradication of computer virus hysteria." It "... sells the truth about computer virus hysteria. We take no prisoners; we pull no punches. Vmyths refuses antivirus ads in order to maintain its independence, and a legal contract separates our editorial department from our advertising department."
  • Commercial Anti-virus Sites
    These links will take you to the Virus and/or Virus Hoax search pages on the site. In most cases you will get more than one page of information. These sites also sell and contain much more information about anti-virus and other security software.
     
    • McAfee Security - Virus Information
      Use a single word in the search box to get information about a real or hoax virus warning. ("Virtual Card" did not work, but "Virtual" found three pages, one of which was "A Virtual Card for You" hoax.)
       
    • Sophos - Virus Information
      Use the search box at the top of the page to get a list of possible viruses and hoaxes.
    • Symantec - Search Page
      Use the search box and narrow your search (if you wish). Use quotes to search for phrases.
      • Symantec Security Updates
        The Latest (Real) Virus Threats and an alpha search for specifically mentioned viruses. (If an actual virus name is mentioned in an email, you should be able to find it here.)
         
    • F-Secure Hoax Warnings
      Use the search box at the top-right of the page, or use the alpha index at the bottom of the page.
       
  • ICQ Web Tools - The Compulsory Forwarding Syndrome Anonymous
    "A Therapeutic Approach To ICQ Hoaxes ... This Web therapy session was created to help cure ICQ "forwarding" addicts, who can't stop distributing meaningless content. We hope this dose of humor & sarcasm will have some affect. Victims of ICQ chain letters, hoaxes & rumors may also find some relief here." - A "fun" look at virus hoaxes.

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