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The 11. September 2001 unleashed a whole series of chain letters. Their success is based on emotion, credulity and lack of information

Very popular were conspiracy theories. No sooner had the smoke cleared after the terrorist attacks in new york and washington than the first chain mails spread around the globe. Nostradamus, he said in one, had predicted the attacks hundreds of years ago, because he wrote: "die zwillinge, die auseinandergerissen werden/ die festung, die standhalt/ und wenn die grobe stadt in flammen liegt/ beginnt der dritte grobe krieg." that sounded sufficiently mysterious to ensure enormous circulation of the quatrain. The mail became even more mysterious by its date. The statement of the dubious prophet was sometimes dated 1654. The physician michael de nostre dame died however already 1566 in salon-de-craux.

There are several factors that enable the success of chain or avalanche mails. The most important is naivety, for example in the case of promised bonuses, which flutter into the house when forwarded by check (which the anonymous sender himself did not want to believe at first, until he actually received the money). The austrian side lucifer.At has done the math:

If only two out of 20 addressees forward the mail within one day, that is 2 to the power of 14 after 14 days, i.E. 16384 final recipients – a total of 32.767 receivers. If, for example, microsoft is said to have a return on investment of 24.800 us dollars (authentic example), this makes a total of 406 us dollars for all participants.310.800 us dollars from.

400 million dollars for an advertising campaign to which the population of just one small town responds? But even in quantitative terms, the calculation hardly adds up. If one ames that every fourth of the twenty addressees forwards the mail, it will reach an inbox a good six billion times within two weeks. At present, however, it is amed that there are only 100 million users worldwide. The fact that not everyone receives hundreds of copies of the same mail shows that the nonsense is recognized as such by the majority and deleted. Nevertheless, there are always successful mass mails.

An almost certain means of success is playing with emotions. Be it a dying child wishing for letters to be included in the guinness book, or his little virtual fellow sufferer looking for bone marrow donors: consternation leads to precisely the wrong reaction of passing on the message. Chain mails that rely on political angst of the people strike in the same notch. Thus, in a chain mail to sign a "petition against the war" . In a german version, which reached the author repeatedly for a long time, the dilemma becomes clear:

"The united states wants to declare war. We are at a point of extreme imbalance in the world which could lead to a third world war. If you are against it, the un proposes a petition against the war to prevent this tragic event."

387 people – in parts users from norway, texas, south spain and germany were listed – had already signed this text "signed". They should have been more critical. Which un organization is proposing the petition? Where to read the text of the petition? Here is finally only the intention mentioned. To whom is the petition presented? President george w. Bush or himself? And last but not least: to whom is the war to be declared here??

Iraq?! One would ame. But is not so. Shortly after the attacks in the usa, kai ziemann already listed the mail on his special list for the 11. September. At that time, a first wave of mail flooded the net. "Well done avalanche mails", writes lucifer.At, "can spread all over the globe within 36 hours." statistically, they were sent by each recipient to ten other people every 40 minutes. After two hours 1.000 users "infected", after four hours one million. "After that, the curve flattens out due to "infection" strongly decreases", because no one sends a chain mail twice, even if they receive it twelve times.

The un petition mail is different. Originally written with regard to the afghanistan campaign of the usa, it returned immediately because of its wonderfully banal formulation at the threatening iraq war, in order to once more "tragic events" again. Bad luck for the united nations. The washington information office of the organization had to close the account [email protected] due to overload. The creators reacted promptly and from now on love to send the work to the un address [email protected]

Albert fuchs, a psychologist working for the science and peace information service, is unable to answer the question of whether the initiators of the petition were motivated by a genuine fear of war or, on the contrary, by its misuse. "However, i am rather skeptical about the fact that they are obviously trying to work with a trade-off", he said at the request of telepolis. Fuchs also does not like to exclude simple uninformedness about the functioning of the un machinery.

The united nations already excluded internet petitions as a means of political work years ago. Finally, a name with a place name can be typed from the phone book and is not legally effective in any case. Ralf e. Streibl, a psychologist at the university, points out an additional fact. Aming that people were actually concerned about an international increase in violence, "it is easier to calm one’s conscience with the push of a button than to demonstrate in the streets or become active in other ways".