Be a critical thinker, a skeptic.
Skepticism is essential if you want to avoid being taken in by a scam or a useless fad. Healthy skepticism draws on your ability to think critically to dispel worries in response to false alarms.
I often get asked about health information that is circulating in emails on the internet. Some examples include:
- drinking 4 glasses of water at the beginning of the day will cure disease
- take an aspirin but don’t lie down if you think you are having a heart attack
- several major brands of lipstick contain dangerous levels of lead
I always investigate the claims made in these emails and always find the majority are false.
Use some healthy skepticism if you receive one of these alarming emails, even if it comes from someone you know or what seems to be a credible source.
How do you check the truthfulness of these warnings? Here are a few tips:
- copy and paste a key sentence from the email into your favourite search engine and end the search phrase with the word “hoax”
- go to http://www.snopes.com/info/search/searchtips.asp to conduct your search
- if the email makes reference to credible sources of information such as Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health or Health Canada, double check that those organizations have actually said whatever was attributed to them
Too Much Work? Consider This
If someone suffers from the information you forwarded, you bear some responsibility for the harm they experience. Be wise, be a bit skeptical.