Sunday, August 15, 2010

Charity Hoax Reality - - Baby With An Extraordinarily Large Head

Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Summary:

Email that includes attached images of a baby with a severely enlarged head claims that, each time the email is forwarded, money will be donated to help pay for an operation to help the child.

The claims in the message are false. No money will be donated to help this child when the email is forwarded. Any message that claims that donations will be made in exchange for forwarding is certain to be a hoax. It is unclear if the images have been manipulated or if the baby in the photographs has a severe case of a medical condition such as hydrocephalus. Either way, forwarding the message will not help this baby.

Actual contents of the mail are:


Subject: 1 forward he gets 3.00 Thai baht

Whilst you are aware of your smiles, when you smile, someone is not aware if it is a smile or if they will ever smile. This Family needs our help………………if you forward this mail to one person, they will get $3.00 Thai Bhat that will go towards the operation……… I hope that you will pass along just as I did…

Thank you…..


Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Detailed Analysis:

This widely circulated email claims that you can help the family of a baby with a severe medical condition pay for a vital operation simply by forwarding the email to others. The message contains a series of attached images depicting an infant with an extremely enlarged head. According to the message, the family will receive three Thai Bhat (around 9 cents) each time the message is sent on to another person.

However, the claims in the message are untrue. Money will certainly not be donated to this child's family in exchange for forwarding the email. In fact, the message is just one more in a long series of similar charity hoaxes that claim that money will be donated when a particular message is forwarded.

The message makes no mention of how the email is to be tracked as it is forwarded nor does it state what organization or person will be giving the promised donations. In reality, there is simply no reliable or ethical method of tracking the journey of a specific email as it is forwarded again and again from thousands of email accounts all around the world. Therefore, it would be impossible to calculate in any reasonable or meaningful way just how many Thai Bhat the elusive benefactor would be obliged to give to the family. Moreover, it is vastly improbable that any company or charitable organization would ever agree to participate in such a ridiculous and ill-conceived fund raising scheme. Forwarding this absurd hoax email will do nothing whatsoever to help the baby shown in the images.

The message does not contain any information that would help identify the child in the images or ascertain the baby's current condition. Many commentators have suggested that the images have been altered using image manipulation software such as Photoshop. This suggestion may well be correct. However, it has also been suggested that the child may have a severe case of the medical condition hydrocephalus. This condition can result in unusually large head sizes in infants. A National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke fact sheet about hydrocephalus notes:
Symptoms of hydrocephalus vary with age, disease progression, and individual differences in tolerance to the condition. For example, an infant's ability to compensate for increased CSF pressure and enlargement of the ventricles differs from an adult's. The infant skull can expand to accommodate the buildup of CSF because the sutures (the fibrous joints that connect the bones of the skull) have not yet closed.

In infancy, the most obvious indication of hydrocephalus is often a rapid increase in head circumference or an unusually large head size. Other symptoms may include vomiting, sleepiness, irritability, downward deviation of the eyes (also called "sunsetting"), and seizures.
Thus, a severe case of hydrocephalus cannot be conclusively ruled out, at least until further information about the origin of the images becomes available.

And, even if the images do depict a baby with a real medical condition, it is important to understand that sending on this email will do nothing whatsoever to help. In fact, any message that claims that money will be donated in exchange for forwarding an email is sure to be a hoax and should not be forwarded.

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