Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Distortion and Urban Legends

I once wrote a blog post about a forwarded letter which tells the tale of a smart student standing up against a stupid atheist professor who was "arguing against" God's existence. It was an excruciatingly long piece, and since it was just a mindless rambling, I have since put the whole behind my mind.

My memory was conjured when I was surfing today - I came across the very same post in Snopes (one of my favourite websites). In the Snope page, there was a lengthy analysis of the origin and content of the email. And guess what, the forwarded email turned out to be a variation of the original, and in the original version the student was supposed to be Albert Einstein. Needless to say it's one of the many parables which try to appeal to authority in order to validate their points; and as with many other stories, the tale was entirely fictional.

Anyway, if you are interested, the Snopes page (here) is a good review about this and some other similar stories. Besides, in general Snope is a great website for fact verification whenever you receive an email with horrific / stupid claims like "drinking cold water causes cancer". 9 times out of 10, you will find the answer there.


jasmine said...

wow, i was just telling my friend today that drinking cold water can cause cancer because i actually believed the article.

so now i know.=)interesting.

day-dreamer said...

At first I was surprised that they said the argument about God and the professor's brains came from Einstein... but then I thought that it should be false.

Sigh... the internet can be used for so many immoral acts by these irresponsible poeple.

youngyew said...

jasmine: Haha yeah, actually many things we read in the Internet should be taken with a pinch of salt, especially those "caring forwarded emails" with very scary claims.

day-dreamer: Haha yeah, we should always find out more before we believe in them. Actually those kinds of urban legends have long existed even before the era of Internet, it's just that the Internet helped them spread even faster and further.