Snopes Founders: People Are Suckers
Please, stop falling for that Nigerian scam
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2010 12:55 PM CDT
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(Newser) – The founders of started out investigating the origins of urban legends like the serial killer with a hook for a hand; 14 years later, their site is a major source of information for people seeking the real story behind political rumors. “When you’re looking at truth versus gossip, truth doesn’t stand a chance,” Barbara Mikkelson tells the New York Times; husband David adds, “People keep falling for the same kind of things over and over again.”

Those “things” commonly involve moneymaking scams or swine flu vaccine rumors, but the site took a turn for the political after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when the Mikkelsons were barraged with email forwards from concerned users. Rumors about President Obama are now the site’s top searches. “Especially in politics, most everything has infinite shades of gray to it, but people just want things to be true or false,” David says. “In the larger sense, it’s people wanting confirmation of their world view.”

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Apr 6, 2010 11:56 PM CDT
The Mikkelsons are a breath of fresh air. And I'm afraid they're right: Give most people the choice between the truth and a good story and they'll swallow the story every time. Religions know this: There was this guy who pattered across the surface of the water on the sea of Galilee. Send me ten dollars, please. Better yet: Send me twenty dollars and have EVERLASTING LIFE! That'll swell your coffers.
Apr 6, 2010 6:27 PM CDT
I check all the time. Even to stay abreast of rumors I haven't heard yet in case I get an email, see a FB update, hear about it at work, etc. Their "What's New" section is bookmarked in my browser.
Apr 6, 2010 12:12 PM CDT
Unfortunately I know too many people who willingly and deliberately believe those idiotic e-mail forwards, because they are already predisposed to believe things like "Obammy's a Muslim", or how the ACLU is trying to destroy Arlington National Cemetary, et al. It's funny to watch them squirm for a minute when you tell them that things like these are easily debunked using Snopes (or Factcheck, Politifact, Truthorfiction, etc.) and then come up with some mealy-mouthed explination about how Obama's Socialist Brownshirts own all those anyway... But at least it's entertaining to watch! People are idiots, especially the idiots!