Monday Chip was aggravated because he planned to take a vacation day
to go sailing with a friend, but weather reports from radio, TV,
NOAA and other marine forecasters warned about gale-force winds by
early afternoon. So they cancelled the sail.
turned out to be sunny and warm, with a slight breeze — a perfect
felt bad for him because the season here is so short, I wouldn't
waste my allotment of allowed annoyance on ordinary things like the
weather. I do, however, relate to his vexation with the e-mail he
got from his cousin last week. It warned about the dangers of
ingesting aspartame and other sugar substitutes, which were alleged
by the forwarded e-mail to cause all kinds of diseases that can be
cured if you just stop drinking diet soda!
been a student of nutrition since I discovered Gaylord Hauser in
1963, so even though diet soda wasn't popular back then, I can
figure out that drinking a six-pack a day is probably not a good
thing to do. However, it could be better than substituting a
six-pack of high-calorie, sugar-drenched soda for the diet stuff,
since there is a proven link between being overweight and diabetes.
My nutritionist approves my daily can of zero-calorie Coke.
responded with annoyance to his cousin, who accused him of not
caring about the people who have died of these alleged
same day, I also got an e-mail sharing a report from Johns Hopkins
recommending that we stop ingesting sugar, meat, milk and, yes,
aspartame, instead of getting chemotherapy.
from lifelong study that we should limit caloric intake and certain
fats and meat; but I also knew immediately that Johns Hopkins would
never attack chemotherapy, which has saved so many lives. A quick
check at Snopes.com
confirmed that Johns Hopkins is not happy about being used to spread
offbeat diet theories.
Commentator Andy Rooney also was upset about political thoughts
attributed to him and circulated by e-mail.
received the offending e-mail, I thought that the verbal style
seemed too angry to be his. I checked with Snopes and read that Mr.
Rooney was considering a lawsuit over the theft of his name.
a political diatribe attributed to Lee Iacocca was real. Of a couple
attributed to Bill Cosby, one was real, one invented.
I get a
lot of these e-mails, and can almost always tell when something is
"off." Before I share it with relatives and friends, I check with
Snopes, which validates accurate stories and exposes fabrications. I
then usually send a link to that expose, to the person who sent me
some of those correspondents have been fighting back by sending me
another e-mail that purportedly "exposes" Snopes as a tool of the
liberal establishment. Funny, in years of using it, I've never found
a liberal bias.
always asking myself, "Do I really need the Internet?" Then I have
to remind myself of its many virtues.
today I got caught myself.
sent me a file labeled "Elk
video (Benezette, PA)" that showed a bull elk attacking trucks
and cars that slowed to look at him and his elk harem. I grew up in
Elk County, a few miles from Benezette, and spent much of my
childhood looking for the elk that someone finally told me had
vanished from Pennsylvania a century ago.
were brought back after I left home; and when I visited my mother, I
became one of the visitors who went looking for them along country
roads. Chip and I finally found the herd about 10 years ago; we also
saw a lone bull elk in a churchyard.
related to "Elk video (Benezette PA)" and sent it to family and
friends who no longer live in Elk County.
return e-mail from my cousin, Rick, who noted the phrase "wildlife
safety video" at the opening, and had learned that it was actually
taken by a park ranger at Mammoth and is used as a tourist training
video. Not my hometown elk at all!
me a link to the whole
safety video collection, which included tourists also
approaching a bison, with their children in tow; then being charged
by the wild animal. Yes, kids, that's why they're called "wild
moral of this story? Some people are idiots. But there's a broad
range, from those of us who pass around inaccurate, but harmless,
information; to those who try to seat a child on a bison for a
photo. Others pass along rumors that can mislead sick people, or
harm someone's reputation, or threaten an entire industry.
of those who try to deceive, we should all check with Snopes.com
before forwarding e-mail. Snopes wouldn't have helped with the elk
video, and it can't check the weather forecast for Chip; but it does
inject an ounce of common sense into cyberspace.
exposed to common sense, more people may use it to choose their
elected representatives and even their president, instead of just
believing everything they're told.