I get emails from around the world asking questions about Taoism. The other night I received a post from the Middle East. The email was very energetic and the person asked questions to help settle some angst. What was interesting about this email was how it made me wonder who it was from. For instance how do you know if an email from London offering you a million dollars is from either (a) the friendly hard working Nigerian scam artist or (b) a honest London lawyer? The point being: what is it in an email that makes us feel it's authentic? In the Nigerian example the extreme idea of a honest lawyer breaks all sense of reality, so you know it's unreal. However, most other emails from strangers don't break the rules of reality so conveniently.
In my case after I read the email, I decided I couldn't tell if it was legitimate or from Homeland Security / FBI trying to determine if I was a security risk to America. I decided to show the email to a friend or two. Their responses were similar. That it indeed could be a fake email from Homeland security or it could be a honest email. I do my best to respond to all emails and what was interesting is that I responded right away since I decided how I should answered the email would actually be the same in either case. That is with honesty and trying to be helpful. After all if it were some FBI agent, it was obvious they needed help as they were living a lie by sending out these testing emails to Taoist Peace Activists.