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Another Crazy E-mail

I received an e-mail forward recently. It was a story supposedly written by an airline passenger who got seated next to some soldiers who were on their way to receive special training in preparation for being deployed to Afghanistan. The airline was selling $5 sack lunches; the soldiers didn't have the money to spend; so the author bought them all lunches. Once crew and passengers learned what the author had done, there were some accolades, and a few donations totalling $75 in cash, which the author gave to the soldiers at the end of the flight. If you want to read the full thing, it's available on Snopes.

Nothing too special, right? It seems pretty typical for an e-mail forward - lots of non-specific information along with a moral lesson. Heck, it may even be true (though if I was a betting man, considering the reliability of e-mail forwards, I'd wager not). So why is it worth a blog entry?

There was a preface on the particular version of the e-mail that I received that actually made me chuckle out loud.

The liberal snopes.com cannot confirm this, so it is a good bet that it is valid for the most part. A beautiful story.

You just can't help but wonder what type of mindset it takes to write something like that. To begin with, the person was accusing Snopes of being too liberal. To be honest, I have seen this claim before, but it only holds up if Stephen Colbert was right, if reality really does have a liberal bias. Because honestly, the main thing that Barbara and David Mikkelson do is debunk urban legends, particularly those that get passed around in e-mails. It may be the case that Snopes debunks more conservative myths than liberal myths, but I'd be willing to bet that it's because there are far more erroneous e-mail forwards coming from the right for them to debunk. Besides, this particular story is about being nice to individual members of the military. I'd hardly consider that partisan. Or is the author implying that just being 'liberal' makes a source less trustworthy?

And then there's the main claim, that because Snopes doesn't confirm the story, that it's probably true. This just doesn't make sense at all. If the author were implying that the Mikkelsons are bad at doing research, there's still a lack of evidence. To make the claim that if a poor researcher can't find evidence, then the evidence probably exists, is a bit silly. I can claim that leprechauns exist, and I doubt the Mikkelsons would be able to find any evidence confirming the existence of leprechauns. Should I follow this author's lead and use this as confirmation that leprechauns are real? Or is the author so cynical as to think that the Mikkelson's lie about everything. If so, when should I be expecting my check from Microsoft?

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