Is that chain e-mail a hoax? (Yes, probably!)

Have you seen the one about “Cough CPR”? This e-mail arrives in your inbox one day, outlining a type of do-it-yourself heart attack therapy should you ever find yourself having a cardiac event while driving alone in the car. And a cardiologist allegedly advises you to forward this important e-mail to other people right away in order to save lives. The cardiologist, however, is not named, nor is there any reference to any medical institution.

Or how about this e-mail headlined:  “Cancer Update from John Hopkins!”

“AFTER YEARS OF TELLING PEOPLE CHEMOTHERAPY IS THE ONLY WAY TO TRY AND ELIMINATE CANCER, JOHN HOPKINS IS FINALLY STARTING TO TELL YOU THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE WAY.”

What follows is a long collection of cancer prevention and treatment tips, supposedly endorsed by Johns Hopkins, the world-famous research university, medical school and hospital based in Baltimore. But none of the claims in the message were actually published or in any way endorsed by Johns Hopkins. In fact, Johns Hopkins has released the following statement denying any involvement:

E-MAIL HOAX REGARDING CANCER

“Information falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins called, “CANCER UPDATE FROM JOHN HOPKINS” describes properties of cancer cells and suggests ways of preventing cancer. Johns Hopkins did not publish the information, which often is an email attachment, nor do we endorse its contents.

“The email also contains an incorrect spelling of our institution as ‘John’ Hopkins; whereas, the correct spelling is ‘Johns’ Hopkins”

So that might be your first clue. When hoaxers can’t spell the name of the world-famous institution they claim to represent, you know something is fishy.  Continue reading