Ever had one of those ‘enlightening’ conversations where nobody was sure of the facts, but had ‘read it somewhere’ and that was enough for them to claim that it was absolutely true?
Like the ‘fact’ that the kings of the four suites in the deck of cards are actually modelled after real life monarchs, or that Coca Cola once contained cocaine?
Well, here’s a website that should put all those brainstorms to rest. Welcome to http://www.snopes.com, that works on dispelling rumours and misnomers by unearthing documented facts.
According to it, Coca Cola did once have cocaine in it, but the kings-of-the-suites thing is just an urban legend, one of the many that this site has busted.
As for the website itself, Snopes has been around for some time and it has shed quite a few skins over the years. However, the basic layout remains the same.
The homepage has a collection of topics, each marked with a small symbol. Click on any one of them, and it leads you to the next page featuring all the dope on that topic.
The best part of this website is that it is unpretentious and simple. The second page marks the rumours as true, false, or just indeterminate. There is even a legend that shows whether the rumour is partly true and partly false.
Thus it is that you come to know that the picture of a mural in Iraq actually depicts the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre is not a hoax, but Donald Duck being once banned in Finland, because he does not wear pants, is a hoax indeed!
The section referred to as the Inboxer Revolution deserves a special mention. It is dedicated to those chain mails and forwarded mails which make their appearances in your inbox, and tells us whether they are true at all! This section is a real life-saver for people who have been crusading against the spread of misinformation that results from these emails!
People can now rest easy, because it lambastes claims like AIDS being spread by needle pricks in cinema halls, or by eating a pineapple on which the fruit vendor’s infected blood had fallen!
Each section has several entries that redefine ‘outrageous’, and although mane of the items may not remotely be connected to India, they always make for engaging reads.
Published on November 7, 2010, in the After Hrs section of DNA, Jaipur. Full text also at: