Fact-check e-mails before forwarding

Last month, the political wonks were buzzing about the Obama campaign’s decision to launch an e-mail-smear-debunking site. I applaud this idea and think we, as a community, could use this for the all-too-common chain letters and rumors-by-e-mail.

Recently, at the kitchen in my office, there was a print-out of a rumor e-mail about dioxins in plastic water bottles and Tupperware (or similar) containers.

Someone got this e-mail and ran to the kitchen to post it and warn us all. This e-mail made extraordinary claims about “recent research” by the Johns Hopkins Cancer Research Center. Right beside it, held up with another magnet, was a concise, explicit rebuttal from the Johns Hopkins Cancer Research Center. If the person who so helpfully posted the warning e-mail had taken a few seconds to go read more on the Johns Hopkins site, they’d likely have seen this — but that would require too much effort.

I would die happy if I could get just half of the e-mail-forwarders out there to take a 30-second research break. It’s very easy — when you get an e-mail making extraordinary, alarming claims, stop running around like Chicken Little long enough to do the following: open another Web browser window, check the (insert appropriate ominous, powerful sounding institute name here) Web site, and go check the online rumor-debunking sites and see if the e-mail you’re about to forward is actually false.

Patrick Bertiaux


Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, June 10

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

The WA Cares law is designed to give individuals access to a lifetime benefit amount that, should they need it, they can use on a wide range of long-term services and supports. (Washington State Department of Social and Health Services)
Editorial: What good is that new payroll deduction?

Along with a modest benefit for long-term care needs, it should prompt family discussions and planning.

Comment: Families living with Alzheimer’s can find support

For a job that no one asks for, it’s vital for family caregivers to know where to take their questions.

Comment: More dam studies won’t change what we know

Studying how to replace the carbon-free electricity of the Snake River dams ignores their other benefits.

Comment: Congress needs to fully fund bees’ highway habitat

Providing bees and butterflies with habitat along U.S. highways can assure their pollination work.

Dan Hazen
Forum: When pink slips go out, why can’t the best be kept on?

Union rules about who stays and who goes don’t seem to benefit students, schools or teachers.

Ron Friesen
Forum: We seem locked in cycle where we allow wealth to rule

Twice in America’s history we’ve allowed greed to lead at great cost to society. It’s happening again.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, June 9

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Phlebotomist Heather Evans preps JaNeen Aagaard a donation at Bloodworks NW Friday afternoon in Everett at July 3o, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Editorial: Get back in (or start) your habit of giving blood

The pandemic’s effects and fewer younger donors too often leave blood supplies dangerously low.

Most Read