Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Since 9/11, snopes.com has catalogued probably a dozen emails that make the rounds, warning everyone not to fly on certain days, or the like, because someone's brother who's in Afghanistan says that they captured someone who says...anyway, none of these widely forwarded email have ever referred even to a real warning, let alone a real attack. Of course, an email that referred to a "real" warning wouldn't just be on snopes; it would be on the news.
Like this one:
As some of you know my father works for Homeland Security, at a very high position and receives security briefings on a daily basis. I received a call from him Monday Oct 3, 2005 and it was a brief call and did not contain a lot of details. The only information that I can pass on is that everyone should at all costs not ride the subway for the next 2 weeks in the major areas of NYC, that means Grand Central, Times Square, Herald Square, Union Square areas. I know that seems crazy but do take his advice if at all possible. I am not at will or able to discuss anything more than that. I was not allowed to ask him any questions but he called with grave concern for the safety of myself and Heather. He said I could tell friends exactly what I have said above and that is it.Or:
I have just received a most disturbing call from one of my oldest friends from growing up in Washington, who is the chief of intelligence for the US Coast Guard and the CG's liason to the Office of Homeland Security - a person I've known for 40 years and trust implicitly and who, by dint of his position, has access to the highest level of intelligence "traffic". He called with a very specific caution to not enter or use the New York City subway system from October 7 through the 10th (Friday through Monday) based on information he has received of potential terrorist activity. He was not permitted to provide further information, but did permit me to share this information with friends and family which is what I am doing.The point being, as snopes proprietor Barbara Mikkelson reports,
Late in the afternoon of Thursday, October 6, 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced the FBI had shared a "specific threat" with New York officials against its subway system. According to Mayor Bloomberg, there were indications that a terrorist attack on the subway system was in the works. Chief Kelly said the city "may be the target of a terrorist attack in the coming days," and asked the public to report suspicious people or activities.See, it's the 0.000001% of true stuff that keeps the rumors going. Gaakh.
Interestingly, the two e-mails quoted in the Examples section above reached our inbox on the mornings of 5 and 6 October 2005 respectively, the first predating the official advisory from New York's mayor and police chief by well over a day, the second by a matter of hours. In the first, the claim was made the information came from a highly placed official in Homeland Security on Monday, 3 October. If so, the danger was known to and being taken seriously by Homeland Security a full three days before news of it was put before the general public.
(Speaking of snopes: these are not pictures of babies made out of marzipan, but if they were, they'd be tasty snack treats.)