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At Least Learn To Hide Your Distribution Lists
Wednesday, June 3, 2009 • Posted June 3, 2009

My email addresses (and yes, there are several) are mostly published, and as such, I get LOTS of forwards from friends, relatives and readers. They are composed of jokes, short snippets of information and even the occasional useful bit of information. But, mostly, they are just forwards of something that the sender has gotten from someone else.

The ones I find the most amusing, though not in a delightful way, are the ones that have a breathless announcement of some transgression of Congress, the President or both, and that begin with, "I checked it out on Snopes and it's true."

Except there's one big problem. I DID check out their email on Snopes (also known as the Urban Legends website), and the email in question turns out to NOT be true. And then, I see the light at the end of the tunnel!

The sender does not hide their distribution list! So I hit "Reply To All," and I explain to the sender that they have given bad information to their list and I'm correcting it.

I've done this on pieces concerning the current administration and the former. I've done it in regards to Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals. When it comes to giving out bad information, I don't care if you and I agree or not, I just don't like for people to pass out bad information as fact and expect everyone to passively accept it.

But, unfortunately, most of us do. When we get emails that purport to tell us that the President is conspiring with (fill in the blank) to the detriment of American society, my curiosity as an American is piqued. I will seek out corroboration, and I will check to see if there is truth to the message.

Easily 90% of the time, the message is either completely untrue, a misrepresentation of the facts, or just an erroneous attribution. I've now seen the same quotes attributed to George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Oddly, none of them uttered the words in question; but, they made for great fodder on the email forwards.

There were stories, FALSE, about Sarah Palin having banned books from the Wasilla library. There were stories about Barack Obama's birth in a foreign land, FALSE. There were stories about Congressional payments to Social Security, FALSE. Even three years after it occurred, there were stories about Mars being closer this summer to Earth than it's ever been (not really FALSE, just late).

The internet is a repository of information. However, not all of it is factual. I can find "evidence" on the internet to prove any crackpot theory I may have. All that proves is that there are a lot of crackpots with access to the internet. Determining truth means looking at ALL sides of the question and determining where opinion, truth and outright falsehoods may be found.

So, be warned. If you want to send me your emails telling me how horrible (fill in the blank) is, my email is public knowledge. But, know that I don't take your forward as truth. I will check it out. And, I will let you know if you are wrong.

And, if you make the mistake of not hiding your distribution list, I will also let all of the other people you sent the information to know that you were wrong.

That's not being sanctimonious or acting superior. That's not pretending that I know more than you or that what I know is right while what you know is wrong. That is trying to seek out truth, and that's a job we should all strive to do to the best of our abilities.

It’s all just my opinion.

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