Top positive review
A readable monument to human gullibility
on 29 December 2009
We've all had them, those e-mails that come from your friend (who from the addressee list his clearly sent them to everyone else as well) warning us of the latest computer virus that is going to delete all the files on your hard drive, or how microwaving our food will give us cancer, telling us that drinking a gallon of spring water a day will cure that cancer, or asking us to admire this spectacular photograph or wince at this grotesque news report. And with social media such as Facebook old hoaxes have taken on a new lease of life while new ones have been invented.
These have several features in common. They're supposed to be true, and sometimes even have the name of a recognised newspaper or institution as the source (though never with precise reference details or a URL to check). They tell us we have to forward them to everyone we can. Text is often SHOUTING at us in capital letters, and multiple exclamation marks abound.. And they're virtually never true.Sometimes they even come, not from the friend you know suffers from Gullibility Virus (look it up), but from an otherwise sensible person who was taken in and decided that it was better to forward it, "just in case".
(And that's before we even start on friendly African generals who want to give us a cut of their 100,000,000 dollars, security notices from banks who don't even seem to know our names, and mailings advertising products that will make impossible enhancements to body parts we may or may not have.)
But there's more to hoaxing than e-mail tales and scams, as the enthusiastic printing of ridiculous planted stories by supposedly reliable newspapers shows. Not to mention axe-grinding, brand assassination, and other messages arising out of nasty motivations.
This book is an informative read and an enjoyable one, even the bits covering the areas we all know about or think we do. I found it a mine of information and its rules / helpful advice a witty and useful summation of what we should remember if we are not to be taken in. I found it entertaining and instructive and have to differ from the reviewers who were unimpressed. Some of it is rather dated now but perhaps readers will be moved to check out FB pages such as Hoax-Slayer or ThatsNonsense to see some of the more recent hoaxes - and be surprised/depressed by how some of these oldies just keep going around.