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Surfin’: Debunking Ham Radio’s Urban Legends


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ scopes out for the truth behind ham radio’s urban legends.

Well-meaning, but ill-informed friends regularly send my sister e-mails alerting her to something dastardly that will occur if she opens a particular e-mail. Or they try to inform her about something contemptible that the government or some corporation is trying to pull off behind our backs. Or... If you have exchanged e-mail for any length of time, you are familiar with this particular flavor of e-mails.

Inevitably, my sister forwards such e-mails to me and asks, “Is this legit?”

Most of the time, I recognize the scam and reply that the alert is not legit.

Sometimes I don’t know, but I do know how to find out: I visit the Urban Legends Reference Pages of They have a great search engine. Whenever I have had to use their service, I copy and paste a key phrase from the questionable alert and Snopes’ search engine always finds what I seek and informs me as to its legitimacy or lack thereof.

Snopes bills itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.” If you d not know what to make of the e-mail alerts you receive, I urge you to bookmark Snopes and use it to solve those e-mail issues.

In addition to helping solve your e-mail mysteries, browsing the Web site and reading about the urban legends is interesting and entertaining.

By the way, Amateur Radio is a player in some of the urban legends that Snopes debunks:

Until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Legend has it that Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, is an urban legend. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



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