Friday, November 24, 2006

Virus Attacks The Gullible

WARNING: Dangerous Gullibility Virus spreading rapidly through email.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 here--C's note].
"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 bizarre story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages have anonymous authors."
Another victim, now in remission, added, "When I first heard about the 'Good Times' virus, 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 Hoaxes 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:
Willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking,
Urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to others, and
Lack of desire to expend two 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 his family convinced T.C. to go to the Gullibility Clinic, and he was diagnosed with the Gullibility Virus, T. C. said he would stop reading email, so that he would never become infected again.

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