A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone I knew, forwarded a number of times before. It offered some plain talk about treating cancer. It was attributed to John Hopkins (sic) hospital, and said that cancer feeds on artificial sweeteners and that if these and some other foods were avoided, the cancer would starve and toxic chemotherapy could be avoided.
Johns Hopkins Medical had nothing to do with this ersatz advice, and even has a web page debunking it. But I ask, why would someone forward medical advice on the Internet just because they had read something in an email? You can die taking advice like that.
A couple weeks later another multiply-forwarded email arrived. It said that burns can be treated by throwing flour on them, and it will even prevent scarring. The story comes with anecdote of a soldier who was literally on fire being saved by having flour thrown on him. This is all nonsense. Flour doesn’t help and it can even catch fire! Every reputable source from the National Library of Medicine to the Mayo Clinic affirms what I hope your mother told you, put a common kitchen burn under cool running water to arrest further damage and ease the pain.
I hope that most people (apparently some of my friends excepted) have enough sense not to believe something just because it is on some web site or was forwarded in an email from someone they know.
Birtherism for a lot of people is no different from the crank medical advice in the preceding examples. Avoiding aspartame will not cure cancer, flour will not prevent a burn from scarring and no expert has found Obama’s birth certificate a forgery. What is important is the credibility of the source, not that it is written somewhere.
I hope you don’t believe something just because you read it on the Internet.