Are You Immune
to Hoaxes?
by Cliff Walker, 6-97

Have you ever been taken in by a hoax? I sure have. More than twice I've been hit after letting my curiosity get the best of me, but it usually happens if I let myself think I can get something for nothing. The most difficult times are when I cannot discern a bad risk from what seems like it ought to be a realistic goal for myself. At such times, life can get downright painful.

Of course, as editor of the Critical Thinker, people always send me material. Much of this stuff is legit, especially when I depend on known reliable sources. However, some of the other stuff really piques my curiosity.

A few months ago, I published a blurb from a major daily about Mark Twain's story, "Captain Stormfield." It described parallels between the Captain's celestial journey and that anticipated by the Heaven's Gate crew. It was fun to ponder, but I found no such references in Twain's story.

Another blurb came in last week, with all the markings of having been dispatched by the Associated Press. It told of parents in Utah who objected to the use of "The Farmer In The Dell" in school because, since there were so many more girls than boys in the class, girl farmers routinely had to take a girl wife. While I have no problem with that idea, the parents in the story were having conniption fits. This might have been fun to watch, but it was all a hoax; no one in the small community could verify the story. Associated Press says it's not their dispatch.

The Center for Rational Thought is not a hoax. We are real atheists with real doubts about religious claims and morals. We invite real speakers who sometimes tell real lies. At this point we have a very real choice: we can become dogmatic and hysterical or we can use reason and come to some real and realistic solutions.

Often, though, we end up doing both.

Graphic Rule