Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chain emails: In God We Trust (Not Really)

Let's start with the premise that, with extremely rare exceptions, anyone who sends out chain emails is clueless (and those rare exceptions are usually folks who are just plain evil). I mean, who really "thinks" and comes to the conclusion that "everyone in my email address book would love to get this!"?

Now, sometimes, I admit, the people who send out chain emails are only following instructions. You know, the instructions that say: "Send this to everyone you know!!!!" 

So they do. Without ever checking first to see if what they're being asked to forward to everyone is true, accurate, or up-to-date. (I know googling must be hard for these people, since they never hesitate hitting the "Forward" button in the name of caution.) Or without considering whether the content of the email might be offensive to any of the recipients (it goes without saying that the email will be annoying to most (all?) of the recipients.)

I don't remember the last time I received a chain email that wasn't a hoax, a lie, a prayer or other religious message, medical woo--or most terrible of all--filled with a disturbingly large number of photos of incredibly cute kittens and puppies and ducklings and hamsters wearing tiny clothes, and unicorns, and pretty glittery flowers, or gifs featuring kittens and puppies and hamsters wearing tiny clothes and unicorns and pretty glittery flowers. With music. *shudder*

Among my recent examples, this rant:
----Forwarded Message----
From: Clueless Friend
Sent: Recently
Subject: Fw: It has begun...Refuse new coins!

It has begun...Refuse new coins!

True Americans will refuse these!

This simple action will make a strong statement.  

Please help do this.. Refuse to accept these when they are handed to you.  

I received one from the Post Office as change and I asked for a dollar bill instead.  
The lady just smiled and said 'way to go' , so she had read this e -mail.  

Please help out..our world is in enough trouble without this too!!!!!

U.S. Government to Release New Dollar Coins

You guessed it

                      IS GONE!!!
                    If ever there was a reason to boycott something,
                    THIS IS IT!!!!


                    Together we can force them out of circulation..

to all

(Typically kooky formatting from the original, just wish I could put the "Please send to all on your mailing list!!!" in the size 72-gazillion font from the email. It was very impressive. No wonder Abbie did just that without research--or apparently thinking.)

So, anyway, my friend Abbie, a habitual chain email forwarder, after receiving the email (from someone who had received it from someone, who had received it from someone...well, the email had clearly been forwarded many times, because none of the forwarders--clueless all--know how to send out blind emails or edit them, as evidenced by the fact that the email Abbie forwarded to me contained several repeats of the message (and really, once was bad enough), once for each mailing list to whom this vital, urgent message had been forwarded, along with the email addresses of umpteen dozens of people I don't know), did exactly as instructed, and sent that email to everyone on her email list, me included, without checking to find out that--wait for it--the email is a lie mistake. 

A Google check, which took a prodigious amount of time--something like 10 seconds--would have brought up, in the #3 spot, a link to Clicking on that link--perhaps as long as another second--takes you to a page that says 

Claim: New dollar coins were designed with the motto "In God We Trust" omitted.

And then, on the same page, there's sample email with the false claim which says in part:
Who originally put 'In God We Trust" onto our currency?

My bet is it was one of the Presidents on these coins.
Get that? The writer can't be bothered to do research, but instead, "guesses" and guesses wrong. (Surprised? Me neither, either that the writer just "guessed" rather than doing actual research 'cause that's really hard, or that the guess was wrong.)

Here are the facts, not my guess:

The American Numismatic Association says:
The motto “In God We Trust“ was first placed on U.S. coinage in 1864. An era of high religious sentiment surfaced during the Civil War. Many citizens desired that their religious beliefs be reflected on the nation’s currency. The two-cent piece was the first coin to bear the motto.
So the motto "In God We Trust" began with the religious pushing their own agenda. I am shocked! Staggeringly, stupefyingly shocked!

And the U.S. Mint (on its kids pages, so it's not real challenging to comprehend) lists this "Fun Fact" #22:
"In God We Trust" was first used on coins during the Civil War. This inscription was added to the two-cent piece of 1864. But it didn't become necessary to add it to all coins until 1955. The inscription "E Pluribus Unum," which means "One from Many" (as in one country made from many states) was first used on the gold $5 piece of 1795. 
And helpfully, for those whose reading abilities are shaky, Snopes provides a photo of the edge of the coin, clearly (and unfortunately) showing the words "In God We Trust":

And there's this information on the Mint's "Presidential $1 Coins" page:
In 2009 "In God We Trust" was moved from the edge to the face of the coin.
So, Abbie forward this email that contained false information, and the asinine assertion that "True Americans will refuse these" to me. 

Even though I've repeatedly asked her not to send me chain emails.

Even though I've repeatedly strongly suggested to her that she check out the facts contained in the chain emails that she sends to everyone on her mailing list.

Even though she knows that I'm an atheist.

Even though she knows that I'm politically liberal.

Do I think Abbie sent this to try to change my political and (non)religious views? Do I think Abbie sent this because she's trying to bait me, annoy me, or hurt me? Do I think that Abbie really thinks that I'm not a "true American" since she must know that I not only would accept the coin (despite the fact that I'd rather carry paper money, cashiers glare at me when I hand them one, and their only utility seems to be for use in the parking machines in downtown Baltimore), but also don't think the words "In God We Trust" belong on the coins in the first place?

No, I don't. Abbie is one of the nicest women I've ever known, and would never try to provoke or hurt anyone. Deliberately. But she does that so often when she sends out chain emails because...she's clueless.

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