May 1, 2010

Chain emails

Few days ago I received yet another chain email seeking donations and getting more people involved in spreading the story: (This was the outrageous excerpt, followed by my sincere reply to the many who had the sympathising heart)

Subject: INTI College Chris Yeoh needs help


Hi, my name is Chris Yeoh. I am 19 years old, and I have testicle cancer .. I also have a large penile fracture, from repeated beatings. Doctors say I will die soon if this isn't fixed, and my family can't pay the bills.
The Make A Wish Foundation, has agreed to donate 50 cents for every time this
message is sent on.

For those of you who send this along, I thank you so much, but for those who don't send it, what goes around comes around. Have a Heart, please send this.
Please, if you are a kind person, send this on. PLEASE HIT FORWARD BUTTON NOT REPLY BUTTON.


       Chris Yeoh



Dear fellow recipients,

I have a few comments about this chain email that we have too often received over the past years.

Several reasons if carefully thought over can possibly invalidate this false message:

1) Let's assume that he was being serious to make the case for his injury. The fact that one has testicular cancer and penile fracture at the same time is just intriguing. Testicular cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers: in excess of 90 percent; essentially 100 percent if it has not metastasized. Thus, the claim that doctors, not doctor, said he will die SOON if it is not fixed is just not true. The chain letter was possibly sent in early January; he would be in a dire situation if the claim is true. Penile fracture besides is rare. And LARGE penile fracture from repeated beatings is even rare. The case for fracture is when the penis is erect; thus, we do not see how a 19-year-old would have injured himself and the situation that could have evolved to cause such injuries is unimaginable.

2) Let assume that the case is valid. With high cost of medical treatment for cancer, his family cannot afford to pay the bills and he is seeking donations. That's legitimate. However, the mechanism of seeking donations doesn't make sense. As one might rationalise, the email spreads like a tree with branches. How is the Make-A-Wish foundation going to trace back and grant 50 cents (US dollars?) for each time the message is sent on? The description of the mechanism is itself confusing. And accordingly, the Make-A-Wish foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the USA that grants wishes to children (2.5 years to 18 years old)[1] with life-threatening medical conditions. And we just knew from the first line that he is 19 years old.

3) The presentation of the letter seeking donations and understanding is confusing. The letter is in a format neither of a formal letter nor of an informal. The photo choice was poor to seek empathy and help. He definitely looks OK in that photo. The writing is full of grammatical errors (Your's Faithfully?) and outrageous conventions like capital letters and bold type. The last two paragraphs out of four are dedicated to begging us to push the forward button instead of giving more details about the date of diagnosis, endorsement from the foundation, his feelings about his illness, and such: there is a serious lack of information.

Also, few websites indicate that the chain letter is false:

And here are some information about the foundation and chain letters

I think that Chris Yeoh is a victim of many being falsely claimed to inherent the demon's disease (cancer) and luck to such an extent as to put our mind in vain of rational thinking whether it's true or false. Let's just be more careful about any claims in emails and such and be more clear to distinguish the fact from the lies.





1 comment:

  1. Sheesh, I wonder if this particular version is actually an anti-chain letter, that is, a mockout of the Amy Bruce and Jessica Mydek etc. dying kid hoaxes? Like the Billy Evans burlap sack kid, that was started as a joke, and yet a bunch of gullible schmucks actually took it seriously! The reason I suspect this is a hoax mockout/satire is because of the suggestive nature of the thing. The "beer date-rape drug" same thing. And people are actually falling for this stupid old crap - even with the suggestive new twist. Sad, sad.