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Claim: The planet Mars will make a once-in-our-lifetimes remarkably close approach to Earth in August 2006
Status: One true, one false. To wit:
* Mars passed extraordinarily close to Earth in August 2003: True.
* Mars will pass extraordinarily close to Earth in August 2006: False.
809 Area Code Scam
Claim: Unsuspecting phone customers have been gulled by scam artists into placing calls to area codes in the Caribbean that result in hefty charges.
Status: Real fraud, but its usage is rare and most victims are taken for only a small amount of money.
Claim: The Swiffer WetJet poses a general danger to dogs and other household pets.
So much about this anonymous message purportedly detailing the demise of someone’s neighbor’s dog and that neighbor’s housekeeper’s two cats is either wrong or unverifiable that we cannot see how it could reasonably be considered anything but false.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer
E-mail warns about a disease known as Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).
Claim: The silent killer – IBC – Inflammatory Breast Cancer. No lump needed for detection and won’t show up on mammograms and suggested an MRI with certain signs.
Status: TRUE According to the National Cancer Institute, Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an uncommon type of breast cancer in which breast cancer cells block the lymph vessels in the skin of the breast, a type of breast cancer that may not be apparent through routine screening methods (e.g., feeling for lumps, mammograms)
Claim: Research shows that microwaving foods in plastic containers releases cancer-causing agents into the foods.
Status: False – It’s a pretty good assumption that if using plastic containers in microwaves — as millions of people have been doing for decades — posed a significant risk of cancer, you’d be hearing about it somewhere other than an e-mail forward of an anonymous summary of a morning news spot on a Hawaiian television station.
Chewing gum and the length of time it takes to digest
Claim:: Chewing gum takes seven years to pass through the human digestive system.
It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard this specious claim about swallowed gum, usually when they were children. No, there’s nothing to support this rumor; as sticky as chewing gum might appear to be outside the body, once it’s sent down the alimentary canal it’s no more remarkable in that respect than most anything else we swallow.
And now, file this one under “Always double check your email BEFORE you send it”
Claim: Employee of South Korean firm gets fired after his e-mail brag to his friends about his sexual exploits is made public.
An excerpt of Mr. Chung’s writing prowess: “I know I was a stud in NYC but I pretty much get about, on average, 5-8 phone numbers a night and at least 3 hot chicks that say that they want to go home with me every night I go out. ” (and this was a mild portion of the email.) Go read the rest of it. And learn from CHUNG, the master!
Let’s Say Thanks
Claim: The Xerox web site LetsSayThanks.com allows the public to send free personalized postcards to U.S. troops serving overseas.
Status: True. And how nice, eh?
This website lets you send a free printed postcard to a U.S. soldier stationed overseas. All you do is pick your favorite card, enter your message and then Xerox does the rest! Visit Let’s Say Thanks and send the troops some mail today. And did you know that the USPS provides free Priority Mail shipping supplies for customers sending packages to U.S. military personnel overseas? I didn’t and that will come in very handy when I send care packages to my Soldier’s Angel serviceman! :)
A Bird in the Hand
Claim: Handling by a human will cause a baby bird to be rejected by its mother.
Children are routinely cautioned that they must not touch baby birds found in the wild nor lay so much as a finger on eggs discovered in nests, lest such actions cause a mother bird to reject her young or abandon her nest. This bit of lore confidently asserts that wild birds are so sensitive to the dangers posed by humans that they will fly off, never to return, if they catch even a faint whiff of human scent around the nest or on their young.
Which is hogwash. Mother birds will not reject their babies because they smell human scent on them, nor will they refuse to set on eggs that have been handled by a person.
Claim: A good way to remove an embedded tick is to swab liquid soap on it.
Although this particular Tick e-mail began circulating on the Internet in May 2006, the advice it attempts to impart is far older. Household lore is replete with tick removal suggestions that involve covering or coating the embedded arachnid with a substance it will find objectionable. Other long-lived suggestions include touching a lit match or hot needle to the tick’s rear and tickling its underside in an effort to persuade it to release its bite. However, those in the know about tick removal warn against these home remedies.
Claim:While swimming in a community pool, a girl is impregnated by sperm ejaculated into the water by male swimmers.
Status: False. And DUH!
Another one of those silly, impossible stories nearly everyone heard as a child, a companion piece to the persistent adolescent legend that a girl cannot become pregnant through having sex in a chlorinated swimming pool and the tale of a woman’s becoming pregnant from bathing in water into which a man has ejaculated.
Claim: Tapping the side of a soda can will prevent its contents from foaming over when you open it.
Our desire to exert mastery over seemingly bad-intentioned inanimate objects fuels belief in the oddest things. A shaken soda can will spew foam at us when it’s opened, so we’re quick to embrace a bit of “secret knowledge” that promises to put us back in charge of things and keep the lurking menace of frothing soda at bay.
Claim: The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S.
Status: False. (Surprised? I was!)
The day after Thanksgiving is the day millions of Americans, enjoying a rare Friday off (and a dearth of football games on television), head for the malls to inaugurate the Christmas shopping season. “Black Friday” (as it is known in the retail industry, supposedly because it’s the day retailers turn the corner and see their income statements move out of the red and into the black) is regularly cited as “the busiest shopping day of the year,” but although it may be the day the greatest number of holiday shoppers traipse through malls, it isn’t the biggest day of the year in terms of dollars spent.
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