After years of heading to snopes.com to check the credibility (or non-credibility) of forwarded emails making surprising claims, and politely reminding people that not everything one reads online is true, I just got snoped. An old friend forwarded a message from a seemingly very experienced earthquake and disaster relief expert with some very credible-sounding advice. Even though the advice ran counter to what most of us learned in school (it implores people not to hide under desks or in doorways but to huddle next to large objects instead, where triangular pockets will be formed by falling rubble), all of it sounded like good sense, and the guy’s experience sounded vast. So I forwarded it on to a bunch of friends.
As it turns out, “rescue expert” Doug Copp has a less-than-sterling reputation, the Red Cross disputes that techniques that may apply in 3rd-world countries will apply in countries with very different building standards, the scientific validity of his claims is in question, and he’s currently under investigation by a U.S. Department of Justice fraud unit.
I think part of the reason the article didn’t raise a bull flag for me is that it didn’t seem like anyone had an agenda at stake, anything to gain from giving bad earthquake advice.
Lesson learned: Snopes everything.