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Archive for December 10th, 2008

Email Forwarding as Modern Superstition

with 7 comments

From my inbox this morning–“The President of Argentina received this picture n called it ‘junk mail’, 8 days later his son died. A man received this picture & immediately sent out copies..his surprise was winning the lottery. Alberto Martinez received this picture, gave it to his secretary to make copies but they forgot to distribute: She lost her job & he lost his family. This picture is miraculous & sacred. Forward to 10 people.”

This was forwarded by at least ten people before it got to me. It’s easy to see how this meme could spread–the cost of doing nothing is potentially losing family/job, etc, while the cost of averting this is just a click of the “forward” button on Gmail. So it is seemingly rational behavior. However, the irrationality lies in believing (1) things you read on the Internet without cross-checking Snopes, otherwise you will be taken in by anything and (2) the idea that a serious curse could be alleviated by the simple action of email forwarding. No self-respecting voodoo priest dreaming up a curse would make it THAT easy to get rid of. Fascinating, but incredibly annoying.

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Written by Adam Elkus

December 10, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Nonfiction