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Pamela, Pamela, Pamela, what can I say she is a typical modern day mother. At work she is the woman who takes care of everyone else, she is the one who brings cookies and cakes everyday to share with everyone. I can see her now in her maroon 2001 Chrysler Mini van with vinyl interior so that the children don't mess up the seats! Driving along with her flowered dress, hair band, flat sandals, loads of jewelry and too much blue eye shadow, which by the way doesn't match her out fit, accompanied by her bulging purse that is filled with everything including the kitchen sink. This morning was a good one; she had orange juice with coffee, blueberry pancakes with butter and syrup. She isn't up in time very many mornings to make a full breakfast for herself, her three children and her husband; well you might as well say her four children. She just got her red hair permed and teased just the way she likes it a few days ago. Pamela is just so stylish in her everyday attire. Somehow she finds the time to read her favorite book The Client, by John Grisham, and every once in awhile she even gets to watch her favorite movie Where the Heart Is. After a long day in the office as a secretary she is comforted to know that only four more weeks and she off to Disney World for a week of summer vacation with her kids.
Pamela just got home from work. Each day after she gets home she reads her emails from her friends, which usually are about the most recent gossip. Today Pamela got an email that was quite frightening. The email was a forward from her friend Danielle and it contained a link to a website which was about a deadly chemical called dihydrogen oxide. This awful chemical is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, but it kills thousands of people each year. Pamela became scared and called her three children in the room with her to read about this terrible chemical. She continued to read her email aloud: “Most of the deaths caused by DHO are by accidental inhalation. Prolonged exposure to the chemical in its solid form can cause severe tissue damage.
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While Pamela investigated the DHO scare and how to keep her family safe from its harmfulness, her husband was thousands of miles away in Chicago on a business trip and she could not warn him of this terrible chemical. He was about to go to a meeting with his one of his coworkers when he got a phone call telling him the meeting had been cancelled. Bill didn’t understand why the conference would be cancelled but the person explained the situation. He said: “There is a spider epidemic, this morning I received an email and here is what it said: ‘An article by Dr. Beverly Clark in the Journal of the United Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a recent spate of deaths has been solved. Three women in Chicago, turned up at hospitals over a five-day period all with the same symptoms: fever, chills, and vomiting, followed by muscular collapse, paralysis and finally death. There were no outward signs of trauma. Autopsy results showed toxicity in the blood. These women did not know each other and seemed to have nothing in common. It was discovered, however, that they had all visited the same restaurant (Big Chappies, at Blare Airport), within days of their deaths. The health department descended on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food, water, and air conditioning were all inspected and tested, to no avail.’” Bill was a little startled but he realized that you can not believe everything you hear; and he went ahead and let the man on the phone continue to read the story. “The big break came when a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors that she had been on vacation, and had only went to the restaurant to pick up her check. She did not eat or drink while she was there but she had used the restroom. That is when one toxicologist, remembering an article he had read, drove out to the restaurant, went into the restroom and lifted the toilet seat. Under the seat, out of normal view, was a small spider. The spider was captured and brought back to the lab, where it was determined to be the South American Blush Spider (arachnius gluteus), named because of its reddened flesh color. This spider’s venom is extremely toxic, but can take several days to take effect. They live in cold, dark, damp, climates, and toilet rims provide just the right atmosphere. Several days later a lawyer from Los Angeles showed up at a hospital emergency room. Before his death, he told the doctor, that he had been away on business, had taken a flight from New York, changing planes in Chicago, before returning home. He did not visit Big Chappies while there. He did, as did all of the other victims, have what was determined to be a puncture wound, on his right buttock. Investigators discovered that the flight he was on had originated in South America. The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered an immediate inspection of the toilets of all flights from South America, and discovered the Blush spider’s nests on four different planes!” Once the man stopped talking, Bill thanked him for calling and for the information. Bill was quite skeptical of such a story and decided to find some information about Blush Spiders. Bill immediately found magazine articles about internet hoaxes. He wondered why a search for Blush Spiders would bring up information on this topic but he decided to read about them. Bill instantly found an article about the rare deaths from the Blush Spider. To Bill’s amusement he found that the entire story was nothing but a silly hoax, just a joke someone started that got out of hand! “The article pointed out that there is no such thing as a Journal of United Medical Association, possibly trying to copy the Journal of American Medical Association. Also there is no Blare airport in Chicago simply an O’Hare airport. Funny, but there is more. The name of the spider is a Blush Spider (arachnius gluteus), well a Blush Spider is what you call the small spider veins on your face as you age, and arachnius gluteus literally translates to ‘Butt Spider,’ how comical. The Dr. Beverly Clark that supposedly put out this warning is really the name of a line of wedding apparel, there is no such man! And one final fact to prove that this was story was false is that there is no Civilian Aeronautics Board, there was a ‘Civil’ Aeronautics Board but it was disbanded in 1984!” Bill had to laugh, and just decided to read his emails and go on with the rest of his day. He had also received the article about the dihydrogen oxide chemical from his wife Pamela. He read it and after his earlier hoax he had to be concerned with this one, too. Bill went on to research it and found out something quite funny. Bill instantly called his wife and explained the email to her. He told her “Honey, I researched the chemical dihydrogen oxide and found a newspaper article that explained the whole situation. Pam, dihydrogen oxide is nothing more than simply water! Everything that the email said was true but they forgot to mention that it is only water!” After this Pamela felt silly, she had overreacted and believed something before she researched the topic to find out whether or not it was the truth.
Pamela found many more internet hoaxes and she learned that she had to be more careful about information that she received in emails and what she finds on the internet. Some of the articles she found included ones telling women that wearing bras increase your risk of getting breast cancer as well as some antiperspirants. Another claimed tampons contained asbestos to induce bleeding and increase profits. One even claimed that a certain type of sunscreen caused blindness in children. She found an article from Health & Fitness magazine that stated: “Be skeptical of anything posted on the internet and always question the source, be wary of hyperbolic language, especially emphatic verbiage uppercase lettering and overuse of exclamation points. Also question inconsistencies in logic, vague ‘scientific’ explanations, and subtle jokes buried in the story. You need to check any reference cited to an outside source, such as a medical organization or journal to determine if the story’s claims can be verified.” She knows now not to believe any emails that she receives that is a little unbelievable, or promises to send money or gift certificates if she forwards it to a bunch of her friends.
Pamela learned a lesson, if you see phrases such as “forward this to everyone you know” you probably should not believe it. Also look to see if the person that sent it to you actually wrote it or if it was simply a forward, and look for statements like “This is not a hoax,” because chances are, it really is. Remember anyone and everyone can post anything they want to on the internet; it is up to you whether or not to believe it.