Last night we watched “Memory of Murder” and there is a part where there is a rumor among all the school children and they all “know” the murderer lives under the outhouse near the school. And the cop is grilling one of the school girls about who told her that that is where the murderer is, and she says she doesn’t know, it is just common knowledge around the school.
Which made me wonder: If you had all the time and access and resources needed, could you find the person who told her, and ask them who told them, and find that person, and ask them who told them, and eventually get to the person who originally started the story?
And that prompted me to wonder, who started the joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Could that person be tracked down if you went far enough down the line and everyone could remember who told them the joke and you could keep going from person to person, etc. until you found someone that said “no one told me, I made it up myself.”?
How are most urban legends/e-mail hoaxes started anyway?