Monday, July 12, 2010

Rumor, fraud, and dumb mistakes

I just received what looked like an urgent e-mail from one of my cousins with the subject line "AN UNTIMELY SAD MESSAGE." I thought someone died because we usually use "sad" in the message line to report a death in the family.

The message was part of a letter writing campaign concerning a university that removed Holocaust from it curriculum. The whole message sounded fishy because the way it described the event is just not how universities work. There is no unified curriculum that would include or not include the teaching of any particular event. A person in the sciences may never take any history beyond the basics. The university mentioned does have a Jewish Studies department that has a course on the Holocaust. This rumor started when someone confused UK with the University of Kentucky. The rumor mill became so strong the public relations department issued a denial on Nov. 8, 2007. (

"The academic administration of the University of Kentucky would never permit such a grotesque lapse in its commitment to the principle of academic freedom. Let us bury this rumor. It is a distortion of the realities on and off campus," said Assistant Provost Richard B. Greissman.

Academic freedom is a strong tenant of higher education. Colleges and universities are supposed to be teaching the critical thinking skills one needs to survive in the world.

The Web site does a great job of investigating rumors and reporting the real story. Before forwarding any e-mail that claims something hard to believe, use your critical thinking skill and please investigate. Don't make the dumb mistake of spreading a fraud or rumor.

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