How rumors are spread

June 15, 2009

by Kristen Miller

With the immediacy of the Internet and e-mail, there is no wonder how rumors are spread, but I think it’s our civic duty (especially as a reporter) to make sure rumors are halted, especially when they show up in our inboxes.

I have written columns before denouncing forwarded e-mails that have proven to be false or inaccurate.

Well, it’s happened again. This time it’s about a misunderstanding that “In God We Trust” was removed from the new dollar coins, therefore, implying that this was a way of taking God out of America.

I am a Christian and believe this country was founded on Christian beliefs, and should stay this way.

I also believe that information should be as accurate as humanly possible (mistakes do happen from time-to-time).

This e-mail has been circulating for about two years now – that’s a long time for a rumor to run rampant.

According to Snopes.com, an Internet site that exists to debunk rumors using legitimate sources, it states that the e-mail claiming that the new US dollar coins were designed with the motto “In God We Trust” omitted is, in fact, false.

According to Snopes.com, this is how the rumor got started.

The US Mint began releasing a series of $1 coins similar to the state quarters, where each state would design their own quarter that would best represent that state.

When the first presidential coins came out of the mint, the e-mails began circulating, possibly because the new design had the motto “In God We Trust” and “E Pluribus Unum” were inscribed on the edge instead of on the front or back of the coin.

This design was done to “allow for larger and more dramatic artwork” on the coins’ faces.”

It also may have had something to do with the fact that there was a small number of coins that were accidentally printed without the inscription on the side.

I guess everyone makes mistakes, even the US Mint.

Instead of just completely trusting Snopes, I decided to see for myself just what these new dollar coins looked like. So I took a stroll over to the local bank.

Sure enough, the dollar coins did have the inscriptions just where they were said to be, though I must admit, it was hard to see.

I was also informed by one of the bank associates that the new William Henry Harrison coin was designed with the logo on the front.

According to Snopes, this move came after the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 in which Congress “reversed its previous specifications and instructed the US Mint to move the “In God We Trust” from the edge to the front or the back of the presidential $1 coin ‘as soon as it was practicable.’”

Whether or not this act of Congress came due to the false e-mails circulating or not, we may never know.

I do suggest readers beware when it comes to e-mail forwards. You just never know what someone has conjured up, misunderstood, or has a political agenda for or against.

This brings me to another e-mail I personally received a week earlier, which almost led me to write a column about it.

A dear friend of mine sent me an e-mail which stated that our new president is against Veterans’ healthcare because “Nobody made these guys go to war. They have had to have known and accepted the risks, now they whine about bearing the cost of their choice.”

President Obama was falsely accused of making other statements he never actually made, according to information also found on Snopes.

Snopes called it “an excerpt from a form of satire that makes political or social points by putting outrageous words into the mouths of others.”

What was blown out of proportion was a proposal by the Obama administration in March as a way to save $540 million per year in medical insurance. This was undoubtedly a bad proposal, but one President Obama rejected.

After reading this e-mail from my good friend (despite our political views) and checking it out on Snopes I “replied all” explaining why it was false, and also why I delete forwards without opening.

Though it can be difficult at times to sort fact from fiction, my suggestion is check any forwards out on Snopes or other reputable sources before passing on false information even further.