Common Sense

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”
Gertrude Stein

I’m subscribed to a quote of the day, and this was today’s quote. It sure is true.

Lately, I’ve been putting out a lot of chain-emails.

  • I got one about a missing child from a high-school friend, which turns out to be fake. I replied that this was fake, and that was the last I heard.
  • My uncle forwarded some pictures of “Katrina,” but they ended up being from a storm chaser, and taken in the midwest on 2002 and 2004. I mentioned it to my parents, and eventually they got back to him.
  • A high school teacher sent me a chain-e-mail “collecting names for a school project,” which of course, doesn’t exist. E-mail sent, and response recieved. (I had actually seen this one about a year before, and refuted it then.)
  • In Church last week, the visiting preist read a list of reasons to vote, citing one vote elections of the past. This, as well, had been circulating as an e-mail, and was false. (Although both Ann Landers and Dear Abby have fallen for it, but were both soon corrected by readers.) Mentioned to parents, who mentioned it to brother of preist, who will mention it to him.

So that’s several, all in a few week span. Then there’s the one that started this whole thing off.

When I was in High School, I had the opportunity to attend a Republican Party fundraising dinner for free (on someone else’s tab), and decided that it couldn’t hurt. As a result, the vice-chair of the party (who is the mother of a girl in my class) has come to the conclusion that I am republican (which I am, sometimes. It depends on the issue.). I have managed to get myself on the mailing list, which she sends out.

A few weeks ago, she sent out an obviously fake e-mail, alleging that the ACLU was trying to prevent marines from praying, or something equally objectible. In the preface, she mentioned that she didn’t usually send out quite so many e-mail’s per week, but she “just can’t help myself!!”

I sent back the following e-mail:

I realize that the republican party and the ACLU may not be on the best of terms, and that political parties feel much more free to distribute mis-information about their enemies than the average person, but please, do not send out stories that can be refuted so easily.

See the following websites:

All of which note that not only has this e-mail been circulating since 2003, but that it is completely false.

Please, refrain from sending out this type of e-mail ever again.

Nathan Oliver

I was going to say something nasty about that “just can’t help myself”, but decided against it, and left it out.

The e-mail was a bit harsher than I intended, and essentially accused her of intentionally spreading mis-information, and after this was over, I sent another e-mail apologizing for the tone, but not backing down for correcting her.

I then went off to class, and when I came back, the following e-mails had arrived. This one to me:

Thank you very much, Nathan. I did have a choice to send that one out and should have made the choice rather than sending it just because I was asked to. I really appreciate your stern lecture! I usually check out the source prior to sending it, but did not this time. Again, I respect you and will “correct” this as best as it can with the Republican membership.

And this one to the mailing list:

A person I very much respect wrote the following. I really appreciate that he sent this and wish to “correct” the message in the e-mail I just sent to members of the Republican Party in Skamania County. Normally, I do try to “verify” info I send as Vice-Chair of the party. I am sorry I didn’t do that this time. PLEASE DELETE THE E-MAIL, “What’s wrong with this picture?” and do not circulate it. My apologies to anyone this offended and my apologies for not verifying this information.

[Name Removed], Vice-Chair
Republican Party, Skamania County

The person wrote:
[text of my e-mail, minus my name]

So I did make a difference in the war against chain-mail, and if I wasn’t aware, she sent the following e-mail a day or three later:

I’ve been able to correct it three times so far — the list I sent it to and the two mailing lists I was on from two DIFFERENT PEOPLE! (Note, that I just had it sent to me again today from another source.) I left your name out, but sent the websites you found. So you now know that you have made some impact!

I do try very hard to verify info that I send out as I don’t feel I wish to be “a political party’s pawn” — this one slipped by.

And I knew you wrote that as a quick response, Nathan. 🙂 I’ve done that before, too! Apology accepted.

And a week later, via the same mailing list, comes this rambler:

Dear Skamania Republicans —

Many items come across our e-mails every day from friends and others. It’s often that they come from others, who got them from others, who got them from who knows where!!! But they mean something to us, so we send them on without checking the validity of the item. Political “garbage” can also be just that – just garbage! Outdated, tainted and just plain untrue!

So that each of you have some tools to use on your own to determine if something is true, valid or even sensible — I put together the following websites. You don’t have to be a computer expert to use the websites. If you’d rather search something out for validity another way, just do a google search (by typing in the first line of something someone sent you that looks questionable into the google search box) and that search will take you into one or another of these websites. (I’m talking about something that comes out as a “political script” to share — or something that is sent with a message that you should continue to share it — for whatever reason. It probably won’t work if you type in the first sentence taken from a letter from home!!! 🙂 )

In fact, just so you know, it is possible to “google a phone number”. Let me give you a true example: last night I got a phone call at around 8:00 pm and no one was on the line….since this has happened a lot lately, I dialed *69, listened and found out the number the call took place from…..then I went to my computer and typed the number into the google search box and came up with all kinds of info telling me about this telemarketer from Quebec, Canada. This morning, I called the local telephone company and the WA state Attorney General’s office (felt Sam owed me something!!!), and was told the same by both….they both gave me a number to call to get on the National Do Not Call Registry. The number was the same from both sources. A call to set this up must take place from the number you wish to block such calls — so tonight I will call from my home phone to get on this DNC Registry and I’ll be set for the next 5 years!!! I’ve been told it works. The Do Not Call (DNC) Registry number is 888-382-1222. So — now you know the “secrets” of being your own political detective!!!!

My secretary, who is very adept with internet, suggests the first website. Try one or all….and they bring up some pretty interesting discussion. (Who ever said the TV media gives us our “window to the world”!!??)

Meanwhile, just think about it. One person from my e-mail list — a 19 year old — got a lot started when he sent back a response that something wasn’t correct! Our college youth do make a big impact on our lives — even beyond coming home and cleaning out our cabinets of food and our pocketbooks, etc !!! 🙂

[Name Removed],
Vice-Chair, SCRP

I’m not quite sure what the ramble about the (American) Do Not Call list stopping Canadian telemarketers, but it’s good to see that I had the effect of getting the word out. Maybe next time one of these people gets one of this type of e-mail, it will stop there. If no-one forwards these things in the first place, I’ ll never see another one. And then I’ll be happy.

And I look back at this, and I can see, there’s just so much information, there’s no time to check all of it. In dealing with this flood of information, common sense is just what’s needed, and what is shown to have lapsed anytime one of these e-mails is sent.

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