The Gullibility Virus is Rapidly Spreading over
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.
"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 says.
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 email, 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
Those people who are still symptom free can help inoculate themselves against
the Gullibility Virus by reading some good material on evaluating sources, such
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.
This message is so important, we're sending it anonymously! Forward it 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 exclamation points! Lots!!
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.)
ACT NOW! DON'T DELAY!
LIMITED TIME ONLY!
NOT SOLD IN ANY
Help Protect your friends from the Gullibility Virus!