We have all visited the myth-busting web site Snopes.com to verify a legend or rumor swirling around the Internet. Whether it be politics, urban legends and the such, Snopes is committed to tracking down the truth or falsity of every Internet claim, no matter how credible or far-fetched. Thanks to Snopes.com, I no longer fear flesh-eating bananas from Costa Rica, venomous grasshoppers from Guam or poisonous rat droppings in my box of Special K cereal which will cause my internal organs to turn to mush and my head explode.
I no longer worry that downloading Adele albums to my computer will trigger a virus that will erase my computer’s hard drive on Christmas morning. I don’t fear that the police officer who is about to pull me over for an illegal left turn might in reality be a raging psychopath impersonating a cop, intent on killing me so he can eat my kidneys.Thanks to Snopes.com, I am no longer paralyzed with fear at the thought of leaving my bathroom.
So imagine my shock when I found out this week that Snopes.com decided to research claims that Snopes.com itself was a hoax. Snopes.com, true to its commitment, conducted an in-depth investigation. Stunningly, Snopes.com concluded that in fact there was no credible evidence to support the existence of Snopes.com, and reported its findings at its web site, Snopes.com.
But interestingly, Snopes.com then conducted a further investigation and discovered something even more perplexing: Its subsequent study concluded that the alarmist claims by Snopes.com that it does not exist were in fact just a nefarious hoax, and that Snopes.com was in fact real after all. It pointed to reams of statistical reports showing thousands of daily web site visits, to debunk claims that it did not exist.
But it didn’t end there. Shortly after that study, yet another Snopes.com investigation was launched, aiming this time to determine whether or not the previous Snopes.com report – which had reported that the Snopes.com report claiming that Snopes.com was a hoax, was itself a hoax – was in fact a hoax or not. As of this writing, the answer is still uncertain. It appears that Snopes.com has been caught in some carnival “funhouse of mirrors” endless loop of claims and counter claims about its own existence. As a result of this chain reaction of Snopes.com investigations into its own existence, the entire bank of Snopes.com web servers finally overloaded and crashed – that is, if we are to believe that those web servers ever existed in the first place.
So how will I know what’s true anymore? I don’t know what to believe. Without Snopes.com, I won’t know whether I should refuse to accept anyone’s business card ever again because it could be soaked in a dangerous drug which will completely erase my memory and make me believe I'm Joan Crawford. I worry about whether I might be asked by a company’s customer service automated phone menu to “please press #-9-0” – only to end up accidentally turning over my credit card information to Bulgarian Internet pornographers who will go on a shopping spree at Tiffany’s using my Discover credit card.
And how will I ever know for sure whether those two cats living in my house these past 6 years are really not aliens from another planet deposited in my house for the sole purpose of spying on me and driving me insane? One can never be too cautious these days.
Without Snopes.com to turn to for answers, I am confused and bewildered. But there are a few things I do know for a fact:
• Watching 50 hours of NOVA episodes on PBS will grow new brain cells and actually make you smarter – FALSE! (However, it IS true that watching even a single episode of THE VIEW can potentially destroy up to 1,000 brain cells)
• Eating a diet consisting of nothing but broccoli and tuna fish for four months will enlarge your breast. – Totally FALSE! (Don’t ask me how I know, but I do. Just trust me.)
• Using cell phones while fueling up at a gas station leads to brain cancer in mice – FALSE! (As to why mice were using cell phones at gas stations, that’s a question scientists still refuse to answer.)
• Watching Fox News more than an hour a week will lead to incurable insanity – TRUE/FALSE (Technically, scientists now think this only poses a serious mental health risk if you are exposed to the Sean Hannity show for prolonged periods.)