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Internet Myths and Hoaxes

The Internet is by no means the only source for urban legends and practical jokes. However, its increasingly wide scope and especially the ease of email make it the perfect tool to spread chaos, worry and confusion.

There is actually a "season" for the proliferation of these things, running from about September through February. That is because of the opening of school in September, followed by the holiday buying season. Both events bring many new users.

The "forward-this-email-to-all-of-your-friends-and-something-great-will-happen" type of hoax has been particularly bad lately, clogging the already straining bandwidth, as Joseph Jobst warns in this clever story.

What do the following messages sent to you by some friend in a thread of the same messages sent to lots of other people have in common?

      Don't open an email message with "Good Times" in the subject line.
      Use this cookie recipe because the woman who asked for it got ripped off.
      Walt Disney, Jr. (or Bill Gates or both of them) will pay you to circulate this message.
      Help poor, dying Craig Shengold get into the Guinness Book of World Records.

They are all hoaxes or urban myths. There is no "Good Time" virus. The cookie recipe (she asked for the recipe and was told it would cost her two-fifty; she thought it was $2.50 and it was $250) has been around a long time; I remember it from my college days (mid-60s) when it was Waldorf Cake. Walt Disney only had daughters and no one will pay you for circulating the email.

As for poor Craig Shengold, he had an operation several years ago and is now healthy and in his 20s. He got something like 33,000,000 post cards and they still keep coming at the rate of 5 mail sacks a day and they want you to STOP!

Warning! Do not go to these sites unless you are very strong or have a lot of time; they are addictive.

Two sites will set your mind at ease about any possible hoaxes or myths and entertain you at the same time. They are rich and fascinating (that's why the warning; maybe you can't log off). They are and The latter leads you right into the fire with the claim that they have 50 billion visitors a week. Yahoo also has a large directory of such sites at

If you want to help get rid of hoaxes (and they do consume a lot of bandwidth) visit

Perhaps the most common of these hoaxes are virus warnings. They have their own page.


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