Microsoft asks if my computer is possessed

So I'm on MSN.com last week and among the headline links being touted as "Must See" is one asking the provocative question: "Is your computer possessed?"

My first thought is that of course my computer is possessed; it's running Windows (rim shot).

My second is that I'm going to click on that story because it's probably about some silly survey revealing that one in three Americans believes their computer is possessed; silly surveys make for mighty fine blog fodder. … Wrong. Not a survey.The story with the headline "Is your computer possessed" has a smaller sub-headline that reads: "Psychic objects and symbols to watch for in your everyday life... " It's on MSN's "astrology" page that features tabs for "tarot," "numerology," "horoscopes," "PsychicCenter" and – one can only imagine -- "AstroFun."

What? How did we get here? And more to the point, how did MSN – Microsoft's flagship portal and the 10th (or so) most popular destination on the Internet – get here?

While we ponder, let's read a bit of this "Must See" story. First paragraph:

"Human beings perceive the world through many filters so we are not overrun with information like a dog caught in the middle of traffic. Scientists know that there are all kinds of things going on around us that we are completely unaware of and therefore we have no idea that they affect us at all."

Well that's a relief; there's going to be science.

"Every object on Earth, even a stick, can have a psychic meaning at one time or another. An object can be infused with the psychic power of all those who have held or used the object. A place can also give an object psychic power, as in a stone that comes from the Moon."

Uh-oh.

"People witness the psychic power in everyday objects daily, but quickly forget about them because they usually haven't created a file in their brain that stores that kind of cryptic information. "

Computers have files; maybe they could be of some help here. However, 11 paragraphs deep into this "Must See" story and there has been nary a mention of computers, never mind an answer to the leading question of whether or not the one I'm using at the moment is possessed.

Then the payoff:

"Objects do not have to be exotic, flamboyant, or religious to have psychic power. Any electrical appliance - including radios, televisions, and computers - can be a transmitter of psychic energy. In fact, there are those who argue that computers have had the psychic energy to change our entire civilization, as televisions and radios did before them."

Really, Microsoft? I understand that MSN.com is a news and entertainment portal that leans heavily toward the entertainment side. I also understand that there are those who find this sort of nonsense entertaining, not to mention (shudder) enlightening. And you don't get to be the 10th most popular spot on the Internet without a bow or two to the lowest common denominator.But might it make more sense to risk becoming 11th or 12th most popular site on the Internet by maintaining just a minimum standard of intellectual integrity, starting with, say, the laugh test?

I'm guessing Bill Gates didn't found the company on "psychic energy."

Telepathic communications with the author are frowned upon. Try buzz@nww.com.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Microsoft asks if my computer is possessed" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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