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Superstition Bash

Chain Letters

Chain letters offer many good activity and presentation ideas for a Superstition Bash:

The Chain Letter Announcement / Invitation

Whether via email or through the post you can announce your Superstition Bash event by using a modified chain letter to send to friends and group members, inviting them to attend and participate in the event.

Here's a sample announcement to use:

Friend, you've been chosen to receive this letter by someone who values you and wants only the best for you. I'm asking you to continue the kindness and forward copies of this letter to ten of your friends. Let me assure you that this is NOT a chain letter! I know you are very busy and I'm not going to ask you to send any money, forward pull tabs for dialysis machines, or circulate such stupid things. But this is important!




I don't want to scare you, but I personally know of dozens of people who did NOT forward a message very similar to this one, who later DIED. Granted, they ignored the letter anywhere from five to twenty years ago, but some of them died under mysterious circumstances such as car accidents, cancer, gunshots, etc. In 1986 a man in Muskegon forwarded this letter to ten people, including his brother Wally, and soon won $20,000. Wally, however, broke the chain and his wife left him for his brother in Muskegon. They are now happily married, while Wally is smelly, impotent and spends his days on the street, washing car windows for spare change.

In fact, though I don't believe in the curse, I have to tell you that my very own grandmother got a letter like this one in the mail. She threw it away and she DIED THE NEXT DAY. I know because I was there! I was visiting her in the hospital where her emphysema was so bad that she only had three days to live. I collected and brought her, her mail. Among the get-well cards and funeral home ads was a letter like this one, and I threw it away. My grandmother died the next day, a full TWO DAYS before the doctors said she would! I can't explain it and I feel partly responsible for her death. This is why I am forwarding this letter on to you.

If you could just forward copies of this letter to ten of your friends then my grandmother's death will not be in vain.

And as an extra precaution, ATTEND THE SUPERSTITION BASH, Friday, July 13th at <location.> There will be misfortune tellers, superstition obstacles, food and drink, contest and prizes, and much more! For more information, contact <contact information for event coordinators.>

Chain Letter Advertisements

If you plan to take out advertisements in local newspapers, consider a short chain letter ad to capture attention and interest in your event. Because space is usually a consideration, you may need to minimize the content you include in such an advertisement.

Here's a sample:

This is not a chain letter. No really, it's not. Trust me, honest.

If you do not send this letter on to ten other people in the next 72 hours and attend the SUPERSTITION BASH on Friday, July 13th at <location>, you will be in grave danger.

Do not laugh. Read on...

When Bob failed to heed this warning, great swarms of locusts and other creepy crawlies descended upon his home and infested his body. When Cindy threw this letter in the trash she woke up the next day penniless, without a job and with terrible acne. When Milli Vanilli refused to send the letter on, their career came to a humiliating end.

For more information, contact <contact information of event coordinators>.

Chain Letter Press Releases

The Chain Letter Toss Activity

In the fashion of basketball, consider an activity where event participants can pick up a chain letter, crumple it up into a ball and attempt to toss it into a disposal container of some kind. There are small basketball nets available for sale in supermarkets and sports stores that you can display on a court and have a trash can underneath to collect the letters or you can simply setup a large trash can for participants to shoot for. You also may want to consider a prize or extra raffle ticket for all of the participants who manage to score.

Mailmen, Chain Letters & Trash Cans

Another event idea is to have a volunteer dress up as a mailman or woman and distribute chain letters to event attendees, from his mailbag. You can then setup several trash cans around the event area that include a sign reading: "DEPOSIT CHAIN LETTER HERE."

Help Build the Chain Letter Archives

We are collecting chain letters, past and present, for display in the Skeptiseum. If you come across any or have been collecting them yourself, please send them in and we will include them, along with your name, in the exhibits.

How To Report Chain Letters

Although chain letters can offer great entertainment, they can also be quite serious and dangerous. The usual chain letter asks for money to be sent, promising much more money in return. Many people have fallen victim to this crime and have lost considerable amounts of money. Other chain letters can be quite frightening to read, promising the receiver that if he or she does not comply to the demands of the letter, he or she will be susceptible to all kinds of horror and bad luck. This can be very upsetting and for superstitious people, it will convince them through fear to act according to the directions included in the letter. Anxiety and worry are two common results upon receiving a chain letter and to take advantage of people's vulnerabilities in this way is simply not right. People who send chain letters in an effort to make money or inflict harm to other humans are criminals and what they are doing is illegal.

Read the Report on Chain Letters from the United States Postal Inspection Service:

A chain letter is a "get rich quick" scheme that promises that your mail box will soon be stuffed full of cash if you decide to participate. You're told you can make thousands of dollars every month if you follow the detailed instructions in the letter.

A typical chain letter includes names and addresses of several individuals whom you may or may not know. You are instructed to send a certain amount of money--usually $5--to the person at the top of the list, and then eliminate that name and add yours to the bottom. You are then instructed to mail copies of the letter to a few more individuals who will hopefully repeat the entire process. The letter promises that if they follow the same procedure, your name will gradually move to the top of the list and you'll receive money -- lots of it.

There's at least one problem with chain letters. They're illegal if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants. Chain letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute. (Chain letters that ask for items of minor value, like picture postcards or recipes, may be mailed, since such items are not things of value within the meaning of the law.)

Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing. They may be disseminated over the Internet, or may require the copying and mailing of computer disks rather than paper. Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal.

The main thing to remember is that a chain letter is simply a bad investment. You certainly won't get rich. You will receive little or no money. The few dollars you may get will probably not be as much as you spend making and mailing copies of the chain letter.

Chain letters don't work because the promise that all participants in a chain letter will be winners is mathematically impossible. Also, many people participate, but do not send money to the person at the top of the list. Some others create a chain letter that lists their name numerous times--in various forms with different addressee. So, in reality, all the money in a chain is going to one person.

Do not be fooled if the chain letter is used to sell inexpensive reports on credit, mail order sales, mailing lists, or other topics. The primary purpose is to take your money, not to sell information. "Selling" a product does not ensure legality. Be doubly suspicious if there's a claim that the U.S. Postal Service or U.S. Postal Inspection Service has declared the letter legal. This is said only to mislead you. Neither the Postal Service nor Postal Inspectors give prior approval to any chain letter.

Participating in a chain letter is a losing proposition. Turn over any chain letter you receive that asks for money or other items of value to your local postmaster or nearest Postal Inspector. Write on the mailing envelope of the letter or in a separate transmittal letter, "I received this in the mail and believe it may be illegal."