My mom always used to tell me "Wash your hands before you eat", or "Wash your hands WITH SOAP after you use the bathroom". I'm sure your mom did too. This is of course good advice, washing your hands with soap and water reduces the chance that you will get a bacterial infection or catch a virus.
So I was surprised the other day to get this email from my Mom:
Subject: Fw: moons
*Two moons on 27th August*
*27th Aug the Whole World is waiting for.............*
Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August.
It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will cultivate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles of earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.
Share this with your friends as NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again .
This of course, is a viral email. A viral "meme" if you will. Anyone who knows anything about anything will read this, and if they think about it more than 2 seconds, they'll realize it's a load of hogwash. Mars is NEVER as big in the sky as the moon, it usually looks like a small red star it's so far away.
But I suspect, my Mom didn't even really read this email. Which means she fell right into it's trap. She skimmed it, and sent it to me, because "He likes astronomy and stuff". The virus had achieved it's goal, it reproduced one more time.
However, when it got to me, I read it skeptically, like I do everything. I washed my hands, and it killed it. This virus wouldn't spread past me.
Critical thinking is something you have to do always, and you have to practice it, because it doesn't come natural. Just like washing your hands, it should become a habit.