I’m likely not alone in this, but from time to time I get emails claiming something that just doesn’t sound right. We all get the ones who promise riches if we’ll only help a Nigerian Prince get his money, but I also get ones that other people seem to believe.
I’ve gotten emails from family and friends claiming that President Obama is a secret Muslim, that he really was born in Kenya, that the 2010 census demanded that we list the number of guns we own, etc. What has always amazed me is that a quick search on Google or Snopes would show these banal claims to be false. My attempts to hit the “reply all” button with these suggestions has been a waste of time.
Here is an excerpt from the blog post:
Lincoln was requesting a patent for “The Gazette,” a system to “keep People aware of Others in the Town.” He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where “every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors.”
He went on to propose that “each Man may decide if he shall make his page Available to the entire Town, or only to those with whom he has established Family or Friendship.” Evidently there was to be someone overseeing this collection of documents, and he would somehow know which pages anyone could look at, and which ones only certain people could see (it wasn’t quite clear in the application). Lincoln stated that these documents could be updated “at any time deemed Fit or Necessary,” so that anyone in town could know what was going on in their friends’ lives “without being Present in Body.”
That was it. Pretty much just a simple one-page overview of how his system would work. After we read it, we both sat there quiet for a long time. It was so obvious what this was, guys.
A patent request for Facebook, filed by Abraham Lincoln in 1845.
The funny thing is that the whole thing was a complete fabrication, existing only in the mind of Mr. St. Pierre. My gripe with these hoaxes is the not the stupidity of the people who make them up, but in the stupidity in those who pass them along or publish them. It was published on the web page of Forbes magazine and ZNET.
This never ceases to amaze me. In the 1980s I heard about a hoax that (then) Vice President Dan Quayle was eager to go to Latin America so he could practice his Latin. I got a laugh but then asked if it was true (it wasn’t). Since then the question “Is it true?” is the question nobody else seems to ask.
Maybe this story will help give credibility to this question.