Is the Internet Making us Worse at Spotting Scams?

For a long time, I’ve believed that the internet was significantly decreasing peoples’ vulnerability to scams, mostly through the power of search engines + sites like Snopes and Wikipedia. So if your uncle says, “Hey, I heard about this rock in New Mexico with ancient Hebrew writing on it from the time of Moses,” you can look it up in Wikipedia and confirm that it’s most likely a fraud.

But maybe we’re just changing from believing one set of dumb ideas to another set of dumb ideas.

For example, my [relative] has mentioned a plan to colonize Mars a couple of times now. Apparently they’ve been talking about it on “The Big Bang Theory,” which “just goes to show (relative’s words, not mine,) how up-to-date the show’s creators keep their science.” I’ve heard nothing about this from anyone but them, which makes me rather skeptical. Yesterday they were complaining, “Why are we going all the way to Mars, when we haven’t even colonized the moon?”

IDK, why go to the moon when we haven’t finished settling Nebraska?

Anyway, today I happened across this article: Mars One Finalist: It’s All a Scam

Now, I know nothing about this; I don’t know whether it’s all a scam or not. But a private organization is not a “we”; it’s just people claiming they’re going to do stuff.

My relative gets their news these days largely from Yahoo, which isn’t terrible but probably isn’t the greatest. Not that yahoo necessarily intends to deceive, but a lot of their information is just as inaccurate as its ever been. (Yes, Bush won by the biggest margin ever, you keep repeating that.)

Of course, if you are misinformed about something, it’s rather hard to tell. So how could we figure it out?

(The perspective of an older-than-me person who has been observant long enough to have a good idea of how prone people were to being taken in by scams in, say, the ’80s as opposed to today would be valuable.)

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