At the end of last year, we voiced the fear that we are being exploited by viral notices for the purposes of propagating themselves (16 December 2006). Lindsay Brash observes that the notice we mentioned then -- "Please do not remove this notice until 23rd July" -- "demonstrates the rapid evolution of viruses and the sophisticated tricks they can employ on their hosts. By stating a date, the notice fools humans into thinking it must be legitimate, and they let it be."
In fact, Brash goes on, it's even cleverer than that: people "are so gullible that they are not likely to remove it until some time after the stated date. But by then they will forget when they first saw it and, to be safe, leave it until the next 23 July. Fantastic!"
And in James Penketh's school there is a notice with an even more subtle survival strategy: inducing complete cognitive breakdown. It reads "Take no notice of this notice. By Order." If he took no notice of this notice, he asks, "would I know to take no notice of it?"
Justin Needham, meanwhile, has found an example of the suicide notice: "Please leave these facilities as you would wish to find them". Every time he spots one, he writes, "I am tempted (and sometimes succumb) to tear it down. That's better, just how I wish to find the facilities -- with no patronising notices."
11 March 2007
Zen Mischievous Moments #124
From New Scientist, 3 March 2007 ...