Tonight I visited our local school district's website, trying to find an e-mail for a teacher. I noticed that one of the school's programs cited as a reason for its existence a story about Dr. Teddy Stoddard. It was a heartwarming story about how a thoughtful teacher changed Dr. Stoddard's life for the better when he was younger.
The only problem is the story is false. Completely false. I e-mailed the assistant superintendent over the program and also the webmaster to let them know so they would not suffer the embarrassment of someone else calling them on not checking their facts.
A few years ago I was working for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, when an e-mail came down from Deputy Director Jeff Staake (so not the sharpest tool in the shed) giving a 'tip of the week' about how using cell phones at the gas pump was dangerous. He claimed that sparks from the cell phone could start a fire, and (most offensively) that women, in particular, were in the most danger due to our propensity to talk on the cell phone. Again, completely false. Duh, you think? I complained to my supervisor about the sexist nature of this e-mail and the fact that the idiot Deputy Director of the Department should have known better, especially because it would have required a bare minimum of research to discover its falsity. His excuse? He didn't have time to proofread what he sent, he just took submissions from other employees and sent them out. Um, I hate to break it to you, but if you have time to send out a tip of the week, you need to make time to read it first.
The moral of the story here is don't believe anything you receive in e-mail as a forward unless you know the source. If you have any doubt whatsoever, check out Snopes. Especially if you're thinking of sending it to me.