We want to START an Urban Legend

Has any one person or group of people ever been linked to a well known Urban Legend?

My friend and I were talking the other day about if we wanted to create a harmless urban legend how would we go about doing it? What are the chances it would become widely known?

I can only think of one where the source is known and that is because it was spread over a radio station…it was a report saying that Lil Bow Wow was raped in the back of his limo by one of his bodyguards. It wasn’t true.
Other than that I don’t know of any that have been traced back to their source or sources.

If you were a student in my school you would know about a lot of mini urban legends that never make it off the campus and usually die after all the students have graduated, you know “turnover”. The one I am thinking of now is that all the beans, mashed potatoes, etc given to Freshmen is mixed with spit from the Juniors and Seniors and that the principal condones it. Obviously that legend isn’t true and will never get off campus and if it does then you’ll see me on the news.

Every year at the high school I teach at, right after the annual blood-drive, there is a rumor of x% of the donors having tested positive for AIDS. The teachers have gotten so used to it that we sometimes start a pool as to what the percentage will be.

Maybe we can start one about Unca Cecil being the Last of the Illuminati, and calling for a rebellion against network television and diet colas? :smiley:

The internet has made it easier. A halfway-plausible email glurge or “warning” can sometimes get a lot of mileage, especially if it’s scary or funny. Throw in a phony authority figure’s name, that helps. Check Snopes.com for examples. There’s no shortage of gullible folks. Snopes, by the way, can show you that, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” came from a competitor, not from Barnum himself.

I was startled by one that Snopes sent me today.
I had always believed that sugar in a gas tank would ruin an engine.Seems it DOESN’T.
It’s kind of a long explanation,but you could look it up.

But would it have done 60 years ago?
I watched this in a film just yesterday “An Englishman Who went up a Hill and came down a Mountian”

I love ya Lobby,but I don’t understand the question. Since you’re where you are,I took the “done” away and came out with,“Would it have 60 years ago?” Would what have 60 years ago?
And what did you see in the movie?


There’s the Snopes article.

Would the sugar in the gas tank trick have disabled a car made 60 years ago?
In the movie they wanted the surveyers (the ‘englishman’ in the title) to stay while they made their hill into a mountain so they poured sugar into the gas tank of their car.

You see the englishman (or men, as there are two) classified their local hill as a hill because it was 20 feet short of being a mountain. The locals were not happy about this. They hatched a plan to pile up 20 feet of earth on the hill to make it into a mountain but the english men were due to leave the next day.

It has Hugh Grant in it.

I guess I should have actually read the snopes link, because clearly the age (or ‘period’) of the car is irrelevant.

re the OP:

Phil Collins is rumored to have written the song “In the air Tonight” after witnessing someone drowning after his friend did nothing to save him.

When at concert, Phil saw the man in the audience, and pointed directly at him, singing:

“Well if I saw you were drowning, I would not lend you a hand…”

At this point, the man flees in tears, later killing himself.

Some folks, including a few researchers, took the following quite seriously: http://my.tbaytel.net/culpeper/NavicularGynoecium.html

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Has any one person or group of people ever been linked to a well known Urban Legend?

The well-known “Bill Gates will donate $1 for everyone who forwards this email” spam (linky ) was traced back to one colleget student in Texas, who first sent out the original some eight years ago. (See recent Wired magazine issue for details).

Back in 2000 I started one, and discussed it a bit here:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=22772&highlight=urban+legend

Long story short: It spread enough to be discussed on alt.folklore.urban.legends a bit, but didn’t hit Snopes (which was my goal).

In retrospect, it was too ridiculous. If I try again, I’ll make it a bit more realistic.

Snopes started a rumour about Sing a song of sixpence as a joke. The story is a fake. Sadly, it keeps on turning up all over the place as the “true” origin of the rhyme

A friend of mine starting telling people in the mid 90’s the Ewan McGregor was the voice of Scrooge McDuck. Now it doesn’t stand up as well, because people have wisened up, but he would often have people repeat this back to him at parties. They never bothered to notice that Ewan would have had to be doing the voice when he was about 14.

So can you tell us what it was now? Please?

I was about to say sure, it doesn’t matter now. But now I realize that I may have failed in my goal to make it ethical. I made up a name of a store where the protagonist got a “faulty” product, but it’s way too close to the name of a real store. In fact, in the thread on alt.folklore.urban someone speculates that it was made to smear that real-life store. It’s extremely unlikely, but I suppose that company might think the same thing, trace it back to me, and sue me. Or maybe the SDMB.

You’re not missing much. Looking at it now a few years later I’m not proud of it, not just because it failed to take root, but also from a writing perspective. It’s clearly too derivitive of existing ULs, which I’m sure was a big reason it failed to spread; folks saw it and was reminded of ULs they had already heard debunked. Plus, it IS just too ridiculous. If I do another one, I see for it to succeed it’d have to be more original, and more believable. And of course, more ethical; I don’t want to smear anybody or even look like I’m trying to smear anybody.

A friend of mine tried to start an urban legend back in 1998. He wrote a couple paragraphs about how he had been accused of sexual harassment because somebody who hated him had forged e-mails to a female co-worker of his, and it had some typical urban legend “what you can do to protect yourself” tips at the end.

He posted it to a few mailing lists and Usenet groups, but it never went anywhere. I think the premise was just too complex to make a nice succinct urban legend.

If only I could remember the name he posted under, or some of the words he used, I bet a Google search could find the Usenet postings…

Am I just upping my thread or do I really have something to say…hmmmmm.

Anyway we should be creative, make it simple, make it short, believable, memorable, and funny and/or scary.
I think this is where my writing talent comes in.

BTW to go a little off track here, a few weeks ago a lady told me that a friend of a friends house got broken into and the robber slipped in the kitchen and hurt himself so he sued them for medical bills and won. I’m not sure but that sounds like an urban legend to me and it was funny that she was repeating it as a fact. She probably heard it from her friend who said it was a friend of a friend and so on.
Either she really believed it or maybe she was trying to create her own urban legend. :slight_smile:

Funny you should mention this. I just started a website called the urban legend factory. Non-commercial and done in fun. I’ve only come up with two (pretty lame ones), but feel free to add your genius to the mix.

http://www.ourbits.com/urbanlegends/

Sorry, that’s http://www.ourbits.com/urbanlegend/.