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I just saw something on Ars Technica that I can't help find both funny and sad at the same time.  It's essentially proof of what I think a lot of people have known for a long time and that is that most people's brains have apparently begun to lose weight in all the wrong ways.

Specifically, some people in the Psychology Department of North Carolina State University made up some fake dialog boxes that are intended to have a varying degree of similarity to real windows messageboxes.  They then put together a situation where they could spring them on people who weren't expecting them.

Essentially they found out that most of the subjects made choices that, had the situation been real, would have given permission for malware to install itself on the system.  Why?  Mostly because they were so annoyed at having to deal with the popups that they didn't even bother to look at them.  Instead, they just clicked "Ok" to get rid of them.

I am not a hamster, I know that popups are annoying.  I hate the things too. but when something appears that looks like a windows dialog box I stop and read it and then look it over.  There are times when you can tell that it's a fake.

For example, if it's got minimize and maximize buttons on it (even if they're grayed out), it's probably some kind of javascript alert pretending to be a windows dialog.  Then there's the text on it, that is sometimes a clue.  Look for bad grammar and spelling mistakes.  Microsoft may be a greedy corporate giant but for the large part they don't have a whole lot of those kinds of errors in dialog boxes.

Don't just click something away. Take at least five seconds to read it first.

Technorati Tags: idiots, study, malware, windows alert, fake popups

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2 Comments

  1. Tina Kubala on 27.09.2008 at 18:23 (Reply)


    You don’t need a PhD and grant money to know people are idiots. Just work with the public for a couple of years.

    1. Non-Hamster on 27.09.2008 at 22:13 (Reply)


      … yeah, or watch the news.  examine the career of most politicians, lawyers and business professionals.

      In fact, all anyone really needs to see this unfortunate fact of life is the willingness to open their eyes and pay attention to what’s going on around them.

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