Credulity

Why do people fall for stuff like this?

Fwd: FREE Laptops!…
The Ericsson Company is distributing free computer Lap-tops in an attempt to match Nokia that has already done so. Ericsson hopes to increase its popularity this way. For this reason, they are giving away the new WAP laptops. All you need to do to qualify is to send this mail to 8 people you know. Within 2 weeks, you will receive EricssonT18. But if you can send it to 20 people or more, you will receive Ericsson R320.

Make sure to send a copy to: anna.swelung@ericsson.com

It’s sad when people can’t be bothered to do minimal research like typing a few keywords into Google; “Ericsson free laptop” would instantly pop up a slew of debunkings, showing amongst other things that those model numbers are for discontinued cell phones, not new laptops.

Truly, though, this shouldn’t even require research. It’s obviously baloney on the face of it. Ericsson is going to give away their laptops to try and “increase its popularity”? What’s the point in becoming popular if you’re going to go bankrupt in the process? Whatever the cost of a laptop, exchanging it for 8 or 20 email forwardings is unlikely to be the most efficient use of the advertising budget.

Nevertheless, this kind of pointless spam is likely to be immortal. The cost of forwarding it is low (one can just paste it into a ‘Reply All’ to one of those annoyingly pointless forwards clueless friends keep wasting everyone’s time with), apparently much lower than the cost of a moment’s critical thought. Trying to clue a critical mass of people into ignoring it is a task both Sisyphean and usually thankless; people will accuse you of being a killjoy when you point out how ridiculous it is.

I’ve found, though, that being persistent about exposing the logical flaws has resulted in most of the worst offenders leaving me out of the address field. The majority of those, in turn, still include me in the mailings which I don’t find obnoxious; I still get the jokes, the viral videos, the cool slideshows, and the interesting articles. I like getting those things, both because they break up a dull day and simply because they’re gifts from my friends, who are precious to me in more ways than they know.

It gives me hope that if I continue pointing out the absurdity of pregnant women claiming to be virgins, water turning into wine without benefit of grapes and fermentation, and dead people coming back to life, I’ll be able to both keep the benefit of my religious friends and avoid their embarassing attempts to ‘save’ me. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get one or two to do a little critical thinking and research.

B.T.

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~ by B.T. Murtagh on May 17, 2007.

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