Sorry, Mars is Not Close to Earth This Year (and how to not forward hoaxes)

I just received the third email this year from a friend about how Mars will be closer to Earth than it will be in the next 60,000 years. It probably ranks as the most forwarded hoax that I have ever received. I knew something was up the first time I received this hoax in my inbox because I distinctly remember waiting in line at English Bay in August 2003 to see Mars through a volunteer's telescope. It turns out that Mars is actually behind the Sun this year and not visible at all. For all those people who like to forward emails, here are some tips:

  • Consider all forwarded email to be a hoax until proven otherwise
  • If you send an email that turns out to be a hoax, you will look like a jackass
  • The more people you send an email to that turns out to be a hoax (and the more people those people send it to), the more you will look like a jackass
  • Don't forward an email unless you have investigated it yourself. In the case of forwarded emails, shooting the messenger is perfectly acceptable.
  • Before forwarding any emails, search for it on Google. It might be a hoax. Try different keywords if the first keywords you tried didn't turn up any interesting results
  • If Google didn't turn up anything useful try snopes.com
  • When you receive forwarded emails from other people, research them, and if you discover that the content of the email is a hoax send your proof to all the recipients. You may look like a jackass, but the person who forwarded you the hoax originally will hopefully look like a bigger jackass and will refrain from forwarding hoaxes in the future.
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