Top Ten Most Popular Urban Legends
There are certain rumours out there have just keep circulating, and people just keep believing. No matter how may people debunk certain rumours, some just refuse to desist. Here is our list of urban legends that are as popular today as they were when they started, despite all being debunked some time ago.
10. Snuff FilmsThis morbid yet prolific legend states that snuff films are persistently made and distributed around underground networks for money. If you don’t know what a snuff film is, and you don’t want to know (it’s not pretty) then skip this entry. For the rest of you, snuff films are supposed to be films created for distribution and financial profit that centrally feature raw footage of a real life death, and it is this raw footage that people buy and watch the video for. The legend goes on to say that many unsolved missing persons and kidnappings can be attributed to this morbid underground scene. Whilst real life death videos do exist, such as in suicide videos or documentaries, such videos do not constitute "snuff" status.
In reality, snuff videos almost certainly do not exist. It is unfeasible that such underground networks exist and yet no evidence or sign of them existing has ever surfaced, especially considering a reward of $1 million is currently on offer for a commercially available snuff film.
9. The Call is Coming From Inside the HouseThis particular legend is commonly spread through University campuses where it is designed to scare students there who may be living away from parents or guardians for the first time. The legend has hundreds of variations, but most go on to tell a tale of a teenage girl alone in a house (babysitting or alone in a student house) who starts to receive threatening or intimidating phone calls. Irritated yet sceptical, the girl calls an operator to try and locate the source of the calls. The calls continue and get increasingly violent or graphic. The operator calls back to tell the girl that the calls are originating from inside her house. The variations differ at this point, with some claiming the girl got out alive, and others claiming she was murdered. Some others go on to say the murderer was posing as a clown statue and the girl only discovers him near the end of the tale.
In reality, this is simply either a cautionary tale or a scary story that has been Hollywood-ized more than once. There are no real reports matching the outline above and no evidence to suggest such an incident as actually occurred in real life.
8. Forwarded Email can be TrackedOne of the most persistent and prolific digital urban legends is the assertion that emails can be tracked. This fallacy is most likely created by the many hundreds of variations of chain emails that claim not only can forwarded email be tracked, but the forwarder will receive some prize or monetary reward for doing so, or money will be donated to a charity for each forward.
In realty, forwarded email cannot be tracked as it propagates from inbox to inbox. There is no software that can perform such a task, since it is presently technically impossible. Even rumours that government agencies can track forwarded email are also most certainly false. In addition to being technically unfeasible, tracking email also has privacy ramifications as well, as many privacy activists would justifiably argue that tracking email constitutes an invasion of privacy.
Popular examples of this legend include the assumption that Bill Gates and/or Microsoft are sharing their wealth for anyone who forwards an email, and the email that claims that a handful of cents will be donated to a cancer charity every time an email is forwarded. Simply not true.
7. Stolen Kidneys
This popular story about people waking up in a bath full of ice cubes only to find that they are missing their kidneys is as popular as it is long running. With no specific start date, the urban legend started to catch on through several variations of chain email that warned people are of an emerging crime that involved hotel guests being drugged by strangers and then dragged back to their hotel room where they had various organs (usually the kidneys) surgically removed and sold on the black market. The emails varied slightly in their stories, with some claiming that the victim would wake up in a bath of ice with instructions to call the emergency services, whilst others simply claim the victim was just left for dead. This specific legend has gained further notoriety for its appearance in various Hollywood movies, however there have been no actual police reports regarding such an offence, automatically debunking any rumours that this is an emerging crime.
6. New York City Sewer Alligators
Nearly everybody has heard some version of this long running and extremely popular urban legend. The most popular variation of this story claims that pet alligators were flushed down toilets in New York City many years ago only to mutate into giant albino alligators. Of course there are many stories, including regular alligators and different cities, and almost all of them are untrue. Whilst alligators have gotten loose before, it is typically because they escaped from local zoos. There has never been a pandemic of alligators in any sewer system in the USA, not even close.
Various investigations and trips into the New York sewer systems to find alligators have all proven fruitless, and assertions that police make regular trips into the sewers to try and locate alligators is untrue.
5. The Jedi Religion Consensus FormIn what must be one of the most far reaching legends in our history, this hoax claimed that if enough people wrote "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" (as from Star Wars) on their census forms, their respective government would have to recognise it as an “official” religion. However this is not true, since the department of the government dealing with consensus issues have nothing to do with introducing religions. This did not stop many people specifically in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand entering Jedi as their religion. In reality, what happened is that those countries classed all the Jedi entries as undefined or not willing to say.
In fact the legend has inspired many to request that their government or UN recognise Jedi as a genuine religion, but those requests has thus far gone unheeded since the Jedi "religion" is based on no apparent central beliefs, has no structure or central command and many people claiming to be "Jedi" are likely not serious and/or joking around.
4. Bloody MaryProbably the most prolific legend of all time is the assertion that chanting a name into a mirror a certain amount of times will summon that person who will typically kill either you or someone of your choice. This legend has circulated for decades, and the most popular is the Bloody Mary variant, where upon chanting her name 3 times into a mirror in a candlelit room will summon the witch Mary Worth who will appear in the mirror and kill the summoner.
Firmly established in modern folklore, the chanting names in the mirror genre has certainly inspired the film industry, with Urban Legends: Bloody Mary released in 2005, and the Candyman movie which uses the same chanting a name in the mirror plot.
3. Walt Disney’s Body is Frozen?This popular legend claims that upon dying from cancer back in 1966, Walt Disney requested his body be cryogenically frozen so he could be bought back to life in the future when the technology was available. This urban legend is completely false however. The legend may have sprung up due to the privacy surrounding the funeral arrangements of Walt Disney since he was an extremely private man, but there are verifiable documents that show that Disney was cremated and buried in a marked plot. There is no evidence, not any documents to show or even suggest that Disney was frozen or that he was even interested in the idea.
Further claims also suggest Walt Disney’s frozen corpse is hiding somewhere in Disney World. Needless to say, this is false.
2. The Daddy Long Legs is Extremely PoisonousThis hoax has been spurred along by various shows, websites and rumours claiming the legend to be true, when it is not. The Daddy Long Legs is not actually a specific creature, rather a descriptive term given to several different creatures depending on where you live. In the USA, it refers to a long legged arachnid bearing resemblance to a spider. In the UK it refers to a crane fly which have extremely short life spans and spend most of their lives bumping into walls and trying to fly straight. In Australia it refers to a spider dubbed the Cellar Spider. None of these creatures are poisonous however. The only version to actually have the capability of biting is the Australian version, but the bite is not dangerous.
1. Santa Claus was Invented by Coca-Cola
Some people STILL stand by this legend that the mystical figure Santa Claus was actually conceived by the Coca-Cola Corporation in the 1930s. In fact, what we know to be the modern Santa Claus was already established decades before. What actually happened was in the early thirties, Coca-Cola employed popular cartoonist Haddon Sundblom to create images that associated Santa Claus with Coke. However Santa Claus by this time had already evolved into a large jolly man with white whiskers and red robes.
Sundbloms images however became extremely iconic of Santa and Christmas in general and did manage to solidify the great man’s association with Christmas and may have helped to a smaller extent to harden his exact image into the mind of the public, which is probably why people get confused and claim Santa was created by Coca-Cola or at least Coca-Cola created the modern image of him. They did neither. Santa is the result of an evolution of ideas and no one company can claim they created him.
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