Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't believe everything you hear as Halloween draws near.

October 31st is approaching which means it is almost time for us to send our children out collecting treats only to make them dump everything onto the living room floor so that we can sort through it all. Throw out any candy that appears partially opened, and most certainly dispose of anything that has been repackaged or hand-baked! Oh, and take test bites of each individual candy in case someone buried a razor blade in one of them. 
Every year, I receive Watch-Out! emails from friends and family that basically say the same thing - bad people want to poison and hurt your children so don't let them eat any candy that resembles x,y, or z. 
Sure enough, I received my first Watch-Out! email this morning.
This particular email claimed that the local sheriff's office is urging parents to be suspect of a drug called Strawberry Quick. The "alert" was printed on professional letterhead, and it contained information about a form of crystal meth that looks and smells like strawberry candy. There was even a link to a Fox News article that covered the dangers of this drug. 
I am always suspect of these emails, and thanks to a colleague of mine, I have discovered Snopes.com. Let me make one thing clear: Snopes.com is not the absolute when it comes to uncovering the truth about suspicious information and rumor. Snopes.com simply investigates seemingly harmless rumors and attempts to set the record straight.
In the case of Straweberry Quick, Snopes validates that some drug dealers sell crystal meth that is colored and coincidentally resembles Pop Rocks, but Snopes argues that this drug is not flavored in order to market the drug to children. Snopes backs up this information by uncovering the layers of updates and email examples that have been floating around in cyberspace attempting to freak out parents everywhere.
Let me be clear, there is always the possibility that some bad man could candy-coat crystal meth and drop it in your child's trick-or-treat bucket. But the reality is that there are more "bad" people who instigate a seemingly harmless email chain of false information than there are "bad" people who are really going to seriously harm your child. Some immature and computer savvy teenager probably thinks it's funny to send out a spooky email in order to ruffle a few feathers. 
Again Snopes.com is not the end-all-be-all. But it is a good place to start when you are wondering if maybe someone is trying to get a rise out of the public during an already eerie time of year.

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