alphadogg writes to tell us that the NSF is researching chain letters and how they travel. The results aren't quite what one might expect, showing a pattern of more selective and circuitous travel. "One surprising finding was that messages often took meandering routes between people who knew each other, often through as many as 100 intermediaries. Many email users also received copies from multiple social groups. The researchers concluded that because messages come from many directions, there's ample opportunity for the messages to be edited along the way."