Whorled View

December 11, 2006

The problem with hoax busters

Filed under: Communications,Corruption,media,Sociology,Technology — lullabyman @ 11:12 am

I was thinking about thwarting hoaxes this morning. Many of the e-mail virus filtering software claim to also deal with hoaxes, but do they really? I’d like to send a link for hoax-email-filtering to those I know that get sucked into hoaxes most often, but there’s so much email-filtering-software and none of it seems to make very significant claims about it’s ability to filter out hoaxes.

None of these websites allow comments to be attached to the information regarding each hoax. Any site that claims to identify hoaxes should be confident enough to allow public comments to be posted with each hoax indentification.

There are a lot of websites out there who claim to be the authority on identifying popular hoaxes. Snopes.com seems to be the most popular, and they do seem to have a thorough database – largely because they have such a large userbase who notify the webmaster of new hoaxes. I’m not a big fan of snopes though because I’ve historically seen significant bias in their methods (to the extent of improper identification). Furthermore their forums aren’t visitor friendly, creating and overusing their own acronyms and refusing to define them for thier visitors.

Here’s some other “hoax” resources:
urbanlegends.about.com
hoaxbusters.ciac.org
www.breakthechain.org
www.truthorfiction.com

Hoaxbusters.ciac.org and urbanlegends.about.com seem to be the most complete (at least they seemed to easily find very recent hoaxes I was familiar with).

None of these websites allow comments to be attached to the information regarding each hoax. Any site that claims to identify hoaxes should be confident enough to allow public comments to be posted with each hoax indentification. Other than hoaxbusters.ciac.org there is little to no qualifying information that gives me any warm fuzzies that the information they’re providing is unbiased, and yet nearly everyone seems to believe in them implicitly. Frankly I find that quite dangerous and misleading. Who made these guys the hoax gestapo, and why should we trust them?

… those who ridicule others for believing in a hoax might be just as rediculous if they implicitly put their faith in a hoax-buster of whom they know nothing about.

In short, it seems the whole internet hoax debunking mechanism is woefully innadequate. There is no policing of the hoax police. It seems anyone with HTML skills can establish themselves as an hoax authority, and those who ridicule others for believing in a hoax might be just as rediculous if they implicitly put their faith in a hoax-buster of whom they know nothing about. I challenge self-procalimed hoax authorities to at least allow some public discussion to be attached to each opinion about a possible hoax. Better yet – make it a poll so the public can read the comments and decide for themselves how hoaxable (yes, I just invented a word) it is.

And if there exists a reasonably priced and reliable hoax-filter for email will someone please let the world know about it? Thanks!

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1 Comment »

  1. Common Sense finally speaks!!

    Comment by KeithJames — October 11, 2008 @ 12:22 am


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