Posted by: Jim | March 26, 2004

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That’s right, you heard it right here folks, the latest news–in the world!.

This story starts–as with all of my stories–with my mother. She is a very sweet woman, and well-meaning, but if she has one fault it is probably that she is gullible.

She got an e-mail with an attachment that showed a very convincing slide show about some spiffy new technology that was most certainly the fullfilment of the prophecy in Revelation.

Here are the signs of an urban legend:

1. Urgent news about a hidden danger, (like using your cell phone at the gas station will cause an explosion) or
2. “Insider” knowledge that reveals some secret about some powerful organization, (Microsoft is giving away $1,000 if you just forward this e-mail) or
3. A fantastic story about an idiot who dies doing something stupid (rocket engine, strap, car, etc.), or
4. Some such drivel that is a juicy bit of gossip.

And they *always* say …

4. Tell everyone, quickly!

So I get this e-mail from my mom and I instantly think “lies”. I forwarded the slide show to the good people at http://www.snopes.com, and they did all my legwork for me. The results (somewhat arcane, but still fun) are here.

I have had some fun with urban legends. Let me just say, it’s more fun to write them and watch them circulate than it is to be a rube and circulate them. When you forward an e-mail, just think of this: someone else is having fun at your expense!

A tip of the hat to Snopes!

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Responses

  1. Those emails are classic. I also use snopes.com (what a great idea that was). Did you show your mom the snopes site so she can check out some of those?

  2. Wow, you are digging into some old posts here Ted!

    LOL, yes I did.


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