URBAN LEGENDS EMAILS

DISCLAIMER
Do not take my word or anyone else's as absolute fact. I do not guarantee anything here to be absolutely accurate. The only thing I can guarantee is I have researched all the information provided and it is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but don't take anything here as fact. Do your own research and have your own information. The information provided here is for reference purposes only and is not guaranteed to be accurate.

Please, for the love of God, be an independent, intelligent person, and don't forward crap around through email unless you personally know it to be true. Remember, just because someone emails you something, it absolutely does not mean it's true, even if you know the person that sent it to you.

Much, actually most, of the crap sent around is not true, and much of it is widely known to not be true, and it only makes you look dumb to send something someone else knows to be untrue. Sorry, but that's a fact. Also, just because something has a name attached to the end of the email does not mean that person actually sent it, or if they did, it does not mean that person actually knows it to be true.

Another thing, when I say most of the crap sent around is not true, I don't mean some, a few of them, or many of them. I mean most. Almost all of the crap sent around is untrue, only partially true, or gross exaggerations of the truth. Most of the time, this junk is sent around just to see if people will forward it, and most of the time, they do. You can usually verify if something is true in less time than it takes to send the email. This also applies to most of the stories you hear in life.

One of the things that irks me most about these messages is, many people forward them blindly, without bothering to check to see if the information is correct, and most people that forward the message assume they MUST be correct because someone they know sent it to them, or for various other reasons even though the message has seen its way to thousands or millions of in-boxes before it made its way to them, and even when the story is so ridiculous that it CAN'T be true.

Another tactic is to put "I've already verified this on 'X' website" in the message, so that people reading the message will just assume that it is true. I have seen several messages that have this line, and as soon as I went to the website, it showed the story was false.

All of these things play on the fact that the general public are just a bunch of mindless retarded idiots that will believe anything they are told without question. Unfortunately, almost 100% of the time, that theory is proven to be correct.

A few (very few) examples of untrue or partially true stories:

"Actress Cindy Williams says the military doesn't deserve pay raises"
"Comedian Robin Williams gives advice on how to stop the war"
"Comedian George Carlin gives advice on what's wrong with the country"
"Senator Tom Daschle salutes the flag with the wrong hand"
"(Insert company or person here) is tracking email for (insert reason here)"
"Proctor and Gamble is owned by Satanists"
"Madalyn Murray O'Hair is petitioning the FCC to ban (insert TV show here)"
"Don't shop in any mall on Halloween"
"Sign this online petition for (insert reason here)"
"Forward this email after 1000 people have 'signed' it"
"Nostradamus predicted (insert everything that's ever happened here)"
"Pay extra money on a traffic ticket and keep it off your driving record"
"President Clinton had a bunch of people killed"
"Father of Columbine Student gives heart-wrenching statement to Congress"
"Granny draws gun on men sitting in her car, turns out to be wrong car"
"A duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why"
Quack, quack!

Many of these are simply updated versions of older stories that have been going around for years, and for reference, a true story can be an urban legend. According to some definitions, urban legend means a story that is wide-spread. This particular page references, for the most part, only the stories that are not true.

It should also be noted, that because a story cannot be PROVEN to be fake, doesn't mean it's real, and just because a story cannot be PROVEN to be real, doesn't mean it's fake. It works both ways and there isn't necessarily a correlation. A good example of that is the Patterson "Bigfoot" film. According to many experts, there no proof that it's fake. That doesn't mean it's really a film of Bigfoot. It just means there's no proof it's fake. There's no proof it's real either.

In other words, lack of proof doesn't mean that a thing is fake, but it also doesn't mean that thing is real. It just means there's no proof.


PERSONAL RANT
There is a growing contingent of people that believe anything seen in an email MUST be true. I have actually had several people say to me, "I've seen the email. I know for a fact it's true." It seems to be especially true among Christians when the email concerns a Christian subject. It "proves" to them that Christians are truly persecuted and that Christianity is the one true religion. The big problem is, an untrue example doesn't prove anything. It does however make the person appear stupid to people that know the truth.

It's ok to use an example to prove a point, but please do a little research and be sure the example is real. When you quote an example like this to other people that know it's not true, it shows your level of intelligence. There is NOTHING wrong with doing a little research, but for some strange reason, this contingent of people that I'm referring to seems to think there is. Just because a particular example is proven to be untrue, does not mean anything other than that particular example is untrue, and it doesn't mean the person proving it wrong isn't a Christian or that the person is trying to "disprove Christianity." It simply means that the person is trying to be intelligent by finding out if something is actually true before repeating it as fact.

The people that refuse to research anything and simply take everything they hear as absolute fact are idiots, but for some reason, they act like people who actually try to do research are idiots for simply not believing everything they hear or read without question. To those of us who realize you should verify information, it only shows a low level of intelligence when someone else blindly, without question, believes everything they hear.

I'll say it again, because people seem to have a problem understanding this: AN UNTRUE EXAMPLE DOES NOT PROVE ANYTHING. I can't for the life of me figure out why people don't think that matters.

Challenge: Anyone who is a Christian, feel free to contact me and explain how perpetuating a lie, even if unintentional, is a good thing. Also please explain to me, how, since as Christians we are supposed to be Christ's representatives on earth, spreading untruths is a good thing, and also please include an explanation of how you think Jesus would feel about Christians who help perpetuate lies, especially since one of the things we are specifically commanded to do is to not tell lies.

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about people who forward or repeat something but then later find out it is incorrect. I'm talking about people that insist a story MUST be true no matter what other evidence is offered, and live their life, and sometimes actually make life altering decisions based on something they saw in an email, with no other thought, and for no other reason other than they saw in in a email.




A FEW EXAMPLES

CINDY WILLIAMS DOESN'T LIKE THE MILITARY
Many of the stories that are partially true are nothing more than misrepresentations of something that really happened, such as the "Cindy Williams" story, where the person in question was in fact named Cindy Williams, but was a student at MIT, and not the actress of "Lavergne and Shirley" TV fame.

If you read the article, the author does not say she is opposed to general pay raises for the military. The article is about her objection to a 25 percent increase to their current salary (at the time). She objects for two basic reasons;

She believes military personnel are already paid well compared to similar non-military professions. Some statistics show military personnel earn 13 percent less than the average non-military salary. Ms. Williams' opinion is that those statistics are incorrect. She also believes the 25 percent increase is not necessary, since the military had, at that time, recently received a 4.85 percent increase. This is not the same as thinking the military "should never receive pay increases," as implied, and again, it wasn't Cindy Williams from TV.


THINGS WRONG WITH THE COUNTRY
Some others, such as the list of things wrong with the county, among many others, has been attributed to, to name a few, George Carlin, Rush Limbaugh, Andy Rooney, and Ted Nugent. All these men have vehemently denied writing or saying these things.

Very recently, this list was attributed to a student who witnessed the Columbine shooting. This is totally absurd. This list has been circulating since AT LEAST 1998, and the Columbine shooting occurred in 1999. How could it have been written in 1999 if it's been in existence since 1998? Forwarding something like that (a story attributed to someone in 1999 when the story was written at least a year before that) is one of the things that REALLY makes people look stupid to anyone who knows.

This also includes the list of 10 suggestions for "how the U.S. should handle foreign affairs" attributed to Robin Williams. This list was originally distributed as "author unknown" but a few weeks later, one additional line was added that Robin Williams actually said in a comedy special, and suddenly, the entire list became "authored" by him. Actually, if you read the list, it is saturated with sarcasm, giving suggestions like, "give all illegal aliens 90 days to get out" and various other sarcastic sounding suggestions, that anyone should be able to realize as something we just won't ever do. Some even sound like outright humor, such as "All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us 'Ugly Americans' any longer." It's likely it was written as a sarcasm piece giving someone's opinion of things that are "obviously wrong" with the country rather than real suggestions for things we can actually accomplish.


BY GOD, NOSTRADAMUS PREDICTED EVERYTHING!
According to some people, Nostradamus predicted most of the major events in history, but when you look closer, the quoted prophecies are so vague they could mean anything, the "experts" disagree as to whether a quatrain or phrase has been translated correctly, the "experts" disagree as to what the phrase means, they are fabricated "quotations" that he simply never actually wrote, they are intentional mistranslations of his original writings, or in some cases, they just simply argue about semantics. An example is the word "Hister" in one of his quatrains. Some experts say it refers to the ancient term for the Danube river, and some experts say he was referring to Hitler even though the word is off by only one letter (it's my opinion that the words are different by more than just "one letter." They are different one letter and two letter positions).

An additional problem is, no one has ever been able to read a quatrain and determine something that is going to happen in the future. The "prophecies" always occur "after the fact" when people look back and say, "Oh, this is what he meant."


AVOID TRAFFIC TICKET "POINTS"
This rumor that says if you get a traffic ticket, all you have to do is make the check out for a few dollars more than the fine. Usually about $3.00 is the suggested amount. The state computer system will calculate a refund check for the overage and send it to you. Once you receive the check, simply throw it away, never cash it. This causes the computer to put you in "pending" mode and the points for the traffic ticket never go on your driving record, as long as you never cash the refund check.

Sorry, it doesn't work. There are several problems with this theory. First, every city in the country doesn't use the same software. For instance, I happen to know the guy that wrote the software used here in the city of Memphis. This software is not used by every city in Tennessee, much less every city in the country. I'm I to believe that every single copy of any software used in any city in the U.S. happens to have the same glitch? That idea doesn't hold water.

Another problem is, if this was true, don't you think someone, somewhere, would have figured it out and fixed the glitch? As many times as this story has made the circuit, someone in the government would have eventually caught on and fixed it.

Yet another problem is the original, unedited email had some evidence it did not originate in the U.S. In the original email, the word "check" was spelled "cheque" which is the British spelling of the word, and there were references using the word "petrol" instead of "gas" which is another "British-ism". The "information" was also credited, and sometimes still is, to the "RACV" which is the the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, which is located down under in Australia.

Besides all this, I know several people that have tried it, and all that happened is, they spent an extra $3.00. No refund check and they still got "points" on their record.

The only magic formula for avoiding traffic tickets and the driving "points" they incur is to not speed or disobey other traffic laws. Sending extra money in on ticket serves only to deplete your bank account by the extra amount.


THE CLINTON BODY COUNT
A good example of partial truth is the "President Clinton" rumor that's been going around lately. This email implies, or says outright, that president Clinton was responsible for the deaths of a bunch of people connected to Whitewater. When you examine the deaths, some of the "relationships" to Whitewater were, to say the least, tenuous at best. Thrown into the descriptions of some of the deaths are words like "mysterious" and "suspicious" and "unexplained" and various other words, when the deaths can be explained, or when the terms don't really apply for other reasons. For a better explanation of this one, see this link:

The Clinton Body Count:


THE DASHING MR. DASCHLE
Some stories are simply outright lies, such as the picture of Tom Daschle saluting with the wrong hand. That picture was simply faked from a real picture. Upon closer inspection, it's obvious.


THE PROCTOR AND GAMBLE RAMBLE
Another example of a outright lie is the rumor that Proctor and Gamble company is owned by Satanists. I heard this rumor at church when I was a teenager, at least 20 years or so ago. According to some sources, it was started by an Amway salesman, but according to others, no one really knows where it started.


EMAIL TRACKING PROGRAM
Generally, there is no such thing as an "email tracking program." You are not going to get money, merchandise, or gift certificates by forwarding emails. There are so many versions of what you can receive by forwarding emails, I'm not going to list them here, but regardless, you will NOT get free stuff by forwarding emails.


MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR AND THE FCC
This rumor states Madalyn Murray O'Hair is petitioning the FCC to ban all religious broadcasting and the email usually mentions FCC petition RM-2493. Interestingly enough, RM-2493 was a real FCC petition that was voted down by the FCC in 1975 and has been dormant since then. Madalyn Murray O'Hair was never involved with this petition AND it would not have banned religious broadcasting anyway, yet the email says it is going ban (among others) "Touched by an Angel" which didn't even begin broadcasting until 20 some-odd years later.

Also, Madalyn Murray O'Hair died in 1995. Yeah, sure, the American Atheists, a society she founded, could be trying to ban something, but the email says she herself is doing it. Occasionally, this email will contain the words "She continues to haunt us from the grave" or similar wording, yet it goes on to say how she herself is doing these things.

Another part of this rumor sometimes says the petition has grown to 280,000 signatures, however, the original petition had only 27,000 signatures, and has not grown at all: it was voted down in 1975.

Recently, James Dobson's name has been attached to the email to make it sound more "official." James Dobson himself denies the rumor and states he never endorsed the email and confirms it is not true. You can verify that on James Dobson's web site.

To this day, the FCC relieves so many inquiries about this, they keep a small dedicated staff that does nothing but open letters and answer phone calls from people about this petition.

Try these various links for more info:    A James Dobson article on this   An FCC article on this


MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR AND PRAYING AND READING THE BIBLE IN SCHOOL
Another O'Hair rumor says she is responsible for making it illegal to pray or read a bible in school. This is untrue. The truth is, in 1963 she was involved in a lawsuit, and in that lawsuit, the supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional for public schools to REQUIRE students to read from the Bible or to recite prayers. This is not the same as making it "illegal to read the Bible in school." Students are free to pray or read anything they want. The faculty just can't "require" students to participate in those types of activities.

The two 1963 Supreme Court decisions are Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett and the decision was, as stated above, requiring students attending public schools to read from the Bible or recite prayers violated Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution. A further court decision, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, gave similar opinions about prayer directed or led by school officials at school-sanctioned functions. But, again, these decisions all refer to "required" reading or prayer and prayer led by school officials, and do not refer to prayer and reading the Bible in general. Even the statement "Madalyn Murray O'Hair took the Bible and prayer out of schools" is a minor exaggeration or a minor misrepresention of the facts. It would much more correct to say "In several lawsuits, some of which involved Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for public school officials to require students to read the Bible or to pray, or to take part in activities where these things are done."

On a somewhat unrelated sidenote: In the email, O'Hair's last name is usually incorrectly spelled as "O'Hare."


OLLIE NORTH IS AFRAID OF OSAMA
This rumor says Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North made various statements during the Iran Contra fiasco a few years ago saying he was afraid of Osama bin Laden and that is why he paid (various figures, usually around $60,000) to have an alarm system installed at his home. Most of the time, the purported senator asking "why" is Al Gore.

While the basics of the story are almost true, Lt. Col. North never said the name Osama bin Laden. Instead, he was referring to a terrorist by the name of Abu Nidal. Al Gore was not part of the committee that did any questioning during this affair and never presented any questions to any witnesses regarding the Iran Contra Affair. Also, the amount in question was $16,000, not $60,000. North also never said the terrorist was the most evil person he had ever heard of or that he was scared of him. His actual words are quoted as follows:

"I want you to know that I'd be more than willing . . . to meet Abu Nidal on equal terms anywhere in the world. There's an even deal for him. OK? But I am not willing to have my wife and my four children meet Abu Nidal or his organization on his terms.

Since the rumor became so widespread, Lt. Col. North has penned his own response to clear up any misquotes. His response was as follows:
(sic)
FROM THE DESK OF LTCOL OLIVER L. NORTH (USMC) RET. NOVEMBER 28, 2001

OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS, I HAVE RECEIVED SEVERAL THOUSAND 
E-MAILS FROM EVERY STATE IN THE U.S. AND 13 FOREIGN COUNTRIES IN WHICH THE 
ORIGINATOR PURPORTS TO HAVE RECENTLY VIEWED A VIDEOTAPE OF MY SWORN TESTIMONY
BEFORE A CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE IN 1987.

A COPY OF ONE OF THOSE E-MAILS IS ATTACHED BELOW. AS YOU WILL NOTE, THE 
ORIGINATOR ATTRIBUTES TO ME CERTAIN STATEMENTS REGARDING USAMA BIN LADEN 
AND OTHER MATTERS THAT ARE SIMPLY INACCURATE. THOUGH I WOULD LIKE TO CLAIM
THE GIFT OF PROPHESY, I DON'T HAVE IT.

I DON'T KNOW WHO SAW WHAT VIDEO "AT UNC." (OR ANYWHERE ELSE) BUT, FOR THE 
RECORD, HERE'S WHAT I DO KNOW:

1. IT WAS THE COMMITTEE COUNSEL, JOHN NIELDS, NOT A SENATOR WHO WAS DOING 
    THE QUESTIONING.

2. THE SECURITY SYSTEM, INSTALLED AT MY HOME, JUST BEFORE I MADE A VERY 
    SECRET TRIP TO TEHRAN, COST, ACCORDING TO THE COMMITTEE, $16K, NOT $60K.

3. THE TERRORIST WHO THREATENED TO KILL ME IN 1986, JUST BEFORE THAT SECRET 
    TRIP TO TEHRAN, WAS NOT USAMA BIN LADEN, IT WAS ABU NIDAL (WHO WORKS FOR 
    THE LIBYANS  NOT THE TALIBAN AND NOT IN AFGHANISTAN).

4. I NEVER SAID I WAS AFRAID OF ANYBODY. I DID SAY THAT I WOULD BE GLAD TO MEET 
    ABU NIDAL ON EQUAL TERMS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD BUT THAT I WAS UNWILLING TO 
    HAVE HIM OR HIS OPERATIVES MEET MY WIFE AND CHILDREN ON HIS TERMS.

5. I DID SAY THAT THE TERRORISTS INTERCEPTED BY THE FBI ON THE WAY TO MY HOUSE 
    IN FEB. 87 TO KILL MY WIFE, CHILDREN AND ME WERE LIBYANS, DISPATCHED FROM THE
    PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE FOR LIBYAN STUDENTS IN MCLEAN, VIRGINIA.

6. AND I DID SAY THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAD MOVED MY FAMILY OUT OF OUR HOME 
    TO A MILITARY BASE (CAMP LEJEUNE, NC) UNTIL THEY COULD DISPATCH MORE THAN 30 
    AGENTS TO PROTECT MY FAMILY FROM THOSE TERRORISTS (BECAUSE A LIBERAL FEDERAL 
    JUDGE HAD ALLOWED THE LYBIAN ASSASSINS TO POST BOND AND THEY FLED).

7. AND, FYI: THOSE FEDERAL AGENTS REMAINED AT OUR HOME UNTIL I RETIRED FROM THE 
    MARINES AND WAS NO LONGER A "GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL." BY THEN, THE UNITED STATES
    GOVERNMENT HAD SPENT MORE THAN $2M PROTECTING THE NORTH FAMILY. THE TERRORISTS
    SENT TO KILL US WERE NEVER RE-APPREHENDED.

SEMPER FIDELIS,
OLIVER L. NORTH

DON'T SHOP IN ANY MALL ON HALLOWEEN
There are also various other versions of this one, all having to do with terrorism. While it is obviously necessary to be aware of potential threats to national and personal security, especially in light of recent events such as the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, among others, unnecessary perpetuation of rumors that are untrue only create widespread panic and fear, and do nothing to help security. This rumor has been going around each year since 9/11, and each year it is spread as a recent story, and thus far, has never proven to be true. It is a waste of time to forward rumors that "might be true" or "could be true." Our time would better be spent working on things we know to be true.


ONLINE EMAIL SIGNATURES AND PETITIONS
There is no evidence that online petitions or email "signature lists" have any effect on anything. Lists with names can be easily generated, and since there is no way to verify that the names are truly real, most people/organizations simply ignore these types of emails as "junk" mail. A real "paper" petition carries a little more weight, although some evidence indicates they don't carry much more, mainly because you can look at the list and see that each name is written in different hand-writing, so therefore, it is less likely to be faked.

Also, when you receive one of these lists, it has almost always been forwarded to multiple people before you, and multiple people besides you when you receive it. If you sign it and forward it, and everyone else that has received it signs it and forwards it, you would wind up with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of "versions" of the same list, which would almost definitely be ignored by any company that received these thousands of emails in the "in box." It is also generally known that these lists do not work, and it is a waste of time to forward them to anyone.


COLUMBINE FATHER SPEAKS OUT AGAINST GUN-CONTROL
The "Columbine" e-rumor has taken several turns. As it is usually sent, there is a "prologue" paragraph added, which implies several things that are not really true. Even though the paragraph may not "lie," it adds certain words and phrases that imply things that are not true. Some examples are:

While the speech was in fact delivered by Darrell Scott, it wasn't delivered to a "special session of Congress" but rather, simply to the Subcommittee on Crime which consists of only a few sub-committee members. This message states he spoke before Congress in general, which he did not.

While his words were not broadcast, at least not widely, through the media, it bears mentioning; neither were the words of any other pro-gun or anti-gun speakers that were present that day. There were some of each at that meeting that day and Darrell Scott was only one of several people that spoke that day.

There is no evidence the speech "wasn't received well" or that the media intentionally stifled the broadcast of his words, since they did not broadcast much or any of what anybody said that day. In fact, there was very limited media there that day, as with most other meetings.

Also, while the message correctly states "on Thursday..." the hearing took place on Thursday May 27, 1999, not Thursday just a few days ago as "On Thursday..." may imply.

While I agree his message (partly: finding blame in the wrong place) is a powerful one and certainly one I agree with, all of the "facts" listed in the prologue paragraph are not completely accurate or at least, leave out some facts that may alter certain perceptions.


GRANNY DRAWS GUN
This particular bit of net-lore has been traveling around in various forms since around 1900. There is no evidence this particular story actually happened. Besides that, I have have other problems with it. This story has been circulated around by various "gun" people as a funny story, and normally the subject line is "Go Granny!" I see it as tragic rather than even remotely humorous.

The story is an old lady comes out from the store to find four men (usually black or Mexican) sitting in her car. She pulls a gun and the four men jump out of the car and run. She gets in the car but suddenly realizes it's the wrong car, because her key won't start the engine.

Some versions of the story have the old lady going to the police station to report the incident only to find the four men there reporting they were car-jacked by a little old lady. When this is included, it usually ends with the five of them (and the police officer) having a "good laugh" and going on their way with no charges filed.

There are several problems with the story:

You are not legally entitled to draw a gun on someone simply because they are doing something you don't like. More specifically, you are not legally entitled to draw your gun on someone to prevent them from stealing something. You are only legally entitled to use your gun when a person is doing something that directly endangers your life and drawing your gun or shooting is the only option to save your life. An example would be someone pointing a gun or shooting at you. Coming out of the store to see someone stealing you car, even if it really is your car, does not, alone, give you any legal rights to draw a gun on that person.

There has been some argument about this, such as, "I'm not going to let someone steal my stuff! I have the right to protect my property!" That does not change the law. You do have a right under (Tennessee) law to protect property, but you do not have a right to protect it using deadly force; and guess what? Drawing a gun on someone is considered deadly force. There was an article in the local paper (the Memphis Commercial Appeal, August 17, 2003) by the local District Attorney on this very subject, and he relates a story about a man that was arrested for this very thing. The man shot at a another man breaking into his garage and he was arrested for the charge of "reckless endangerment." Then later in the same article, D.A. Gibbons states the same hing I've already said. You are only entitled to used deadly force when you have "a reasonable belief that there is an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury."

The other problem; pointing your gun at someone is a really good way to get shot. If I'm sitting in my car and you come along and point a gun at me for no good reason, I'm going to try to defend my own life. I'm not going to take time to figure out why you might be pointing a gun at me or to ask to see if it is some kind of misunderstanding. If I think you are trying to shoot or kill me, I'm going to defend my own life as much as possible, and many other people feel the same way.

I can also assure you, if I was in police station after the incident and the lady came in, we would not have a "good laugh" and she would not go on her way with no charges filed.

I may be biased in my opinion that this is not a funny story, but as a firearms instructor, I too often encounter people who really think you can draw a gun on someone for just about any reason, and I believe we should be doing everything we can to dissipate that misunderstanding as much as possible rather than forwarding stories about how funny it is. Besides that, there is no evidence this story ever actually happened, so it serves no purpose to forward it anyway.


TWO WAY MIRRORS
This rumor says you can verify if a mirror is a two-way mirror by placing your fingernail against the glass and checking to see if there is a space between your finger and the reflection. This actually will only detect if the mirror is a "First Surface" mirror or "Second Surface" mirror. It will not accurately detect a two-way mirror.


CELL PHONES AND GAS PUMPS
This rumor says cell phones will start fires at a gas pump, and sometimes goes on to cite a "study" by the Shell Oil company. While several sources have stated there is a potential for a cell phone to start a fire, and according to some sources, it has happened, it is not very well documented. ALSO, executives at Shell Oil have denied any connection to the rumor and any involvement in any "study." An article did run in a foreign newspaper, but the article ran in the paper after the rumor had already appeared on the internet.


WHO GIVES A DUCK?
This rumor is usually contained within a list of "Useless Facts" or "Odd Facts" that is passed around. This tidbit of information usually says "A duck's quack doesn't echo, and nobody knows why." Geez.

According to various sources, such as people who breed ducks, AND a couple of people who have recorded a duck's quack in an echo chamber, duck's quacks do echo. What "nobody knows" is where this tidbit of mis-information came from. Here are a few other items that circulate around on various lists that have either been specifically proven to be untrue, or have never been proven to actually be true. L: Betsy Ross was the only real person ever depicted on a PEZ dispenser

 

 

 

L: Betsy Ross was the only real person ever depicted on a PEZ dispenser.

T: Daniel Boone and Paul Revere have also been depicted.

L:Elvis was the only other person to have been depicted on a PEZ dispenser.
T: here was never actually an Elvis Pez dispenser. In the movie "The Client" you can see an Elvis Pez dispenser, but this was only a movie prop and

never an real dispenser made by the Pez company.

L: Fingernails and hair continue to grow after death.
T: This is an illusion. What actually happens is the skin recedes.

L: Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot.

T: There is actually a picture of Marilyn Monroe showing what appears to be an extra toe, but it is one picture of thousands of her, and it is the only one

that seems to show it. Most experts think it is an optical illusion and a couple have even suggested it is a fake. This one picture that does seem to show

six toes is fuzzy and unclear.

L: You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.
T: Not according to the American Heart Association and Johns Hopkins University; an average 150-pound person, in one hour, burns 71 calories watching

TV or 64 calories sleeping. Its interesting to note there is not much difference, but you do burn a few more calories watching television than you do sleeping.

L: One in every four Americans has appeared on television.
T: While some sources suggest this is technically possible based on the number of television broadcasting stations that exist, no one has ever shown where the

statistic originated or if it's known to actually be true. Some have suggested the "fact" may have been concluded from the result of a survey, where about 1/4

of the people stated they had been on TV. While possible, a survey of a few people (even a few hundred) does not always accurately depict the percentages

of events found in the lives of several hundred million people in the U.S. and no one thus far has actually stated they saw the survey or took part in it.

L: Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.
T: There are no known sources stating how many people die each year from "donkey related deaths." Even the World Health Organization, which keeps

statistics on death, does not keep any records of this specific type of death, so currently, this one cannot be proven to be true.

L: The American Dental Association recommends that a toothbrush be kept at least 6 feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush.
T: Even though there is plenty of evidence supporting the claim that airborne particles do travel around during a toilet flush, there are no "official" sources, such as

the American Dental Association, that have stated 6 feet. That being said, some dentists probably recommend it, and in general, it's probably a good idea.

L: The soda 7-UP was created in 1929; "7" was selected because the original containers were 7 ounces. UP" indicated the direction of the bubbles.
T: According to the 7-UP company, the 1929 is correct, but "No one really knows how the name came about."

L: Richard Milhouse Nixon and William Jefferson Clinton are the only two presidents to have all the letters of the word "criminal" in their name.
T: Ever heard of Abraham Lincoln? He was another, and you don't even have to use his middle name.

L: The "Eisenhower Interstate System" requires one mile in every five to be straight road so, in the event of war, war-planes or troop-planes can land.
T: Not according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. This legend has been around for years. I've heard it all my life.

The "Eisenhower Interstate System" does exist, but it has NOTHING to do with the "one-in-five" legend. For more information, see the following link:

U.S. Department of Transportation:

L: Wrigley's gum was the first commercial product to ever have a UPC code on it.
T: I wasn't able to verify this, but I have found the following: "In June of 1974, the first U.P.C. scanner was installed at a Marsh's supermarket in Troy,Ohio.

On June 26, 1974 the first product scanned at the check-out with a bar code was Wrigley's gum." This only says the first product to be scanned was a pack

of Wrigley's gum, not that the gum was the first product to ever have the code on it. Also, the same article states: "Bar code was first used commercially in

1966 and in 1970 an industry standard was set by Logicon, Inc" so it seems bar codes were in use, at least somehow, before the Wrigley's gum in 1974.

L: Coke will disintegrate a nail/penny/piece of meat if left in a glass overnight.
T: In October, 2003, this was tested on "Myth Busters". While pure phosphoric acid (the acid in Coke) did in fact dissolve part of a tooth and a piece of meat,

soft drinks contain very little phosphoric acid, and the same two items in Coke did not dissolve.

L: You should drink 64 ounces of water every day, and various other claims about water.
T: According to a January 15, 2001 L.A. Times article, nutritionists do not agree where the "eight glasses of water" rumor began. There are several possibilities,

the most commonly accepted being an article that was printed years ago by a doctor claiming that, according to a study done at the time, the average person

loses about 64 ounces of water each day, but the article did not state you must drink 64 ounces of water each day to replace that water, since you get water in

other ways, such as any liquid intake (tea, soft drinks, etc) and any food that contains water. The most common sense approach to drinking water is, if you feel

thirsty, drink water, and if you don't feel thirsty, don't drink water, unless you want to.

There are other myths about water, such as, lack of water (or the sensation of thirst) can be mistaken for hunger, and a few others that I won't go into here, but for more information, check out the following link: Not a drop to drink:

L: Coca-Cola was originally green.
T: According to the Coca-Cola company the original formula was always brown. At one time, it was bottled in green bottles, which may have started the rumor.

L: The kings in a deck of playing cards represent various real-life kings in history.
T: Playing cards are not uniform in all cultures, and various legends indicate they represented different people, so no one really knows for sure.


L: The term "golf" originally stood for "Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden."
T: Not according to many sources, including: The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins and The Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Considering

that the original word wasn't even "golf" this one is very unlikely.

L: If an equestiran statue has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died from wounds received

in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
T: Not according to many sources, and not true based on many different equestrian statues. Some examples are:

EXAMPLES OF STATUES THAT DO FOLLOW THE RULE
FRANCIS ASBURY: 16th and Mount Pleasant NW (1924). All hooves on ground; died in peace.
FIELD MARSHAL DILL: Arlington Cemetery (1950). All hooves on ground; died of leukemia.
ULYSSES S. GRANT: Union Square, (1922). All hooves on ground; died in peace.
MAJ. GEN. HANCOCK: Seventh and Pennsylvania NW (1896). One hoof raised; wounded in battle.
LT. GEN. SCOTT: Scott Circle, (1874). All hooves on ground; died in peace.

EXAMPLES OF STATUES THAT DO NOT FOLLOW THE RULE
GEN. SIMON BOLIVAR: 18th at C and Virginia NW (1959). One hoof raised; died of tuberculosis.
MAJ. GEN. GREENE: Stanton Square, (1877). One hoof raised; died in peace, unwounded.
MAJ. GEN. ANDREW JACKSON: Lafayette Park (1853). Two hooves raised; died in peace.
STONEWALL JACKSON: Manassas (1940). All hooves on ground; wounded by own men and died.
MAJ. GEN. PHILIP KEARNY: Arlington National Cemetery (1914). One hoof raised; died in battle.
BRIG. GEN. COUNT CASIMIR PULASKI: 13th and Pennsylvania (1910). One hoof raised; died in battle.



ELVIS' MOTORCYCLE FOUND AT A YARD SALE
This story says a bargain hunter finds an old motorcycle at a yard sale. The man buys it for pittance (usually a few hundred dollars) and finds out later the cycle belonged to Elvis (or someone else, there are actually a couple of different versions of the same story).

After calling Harley-Davidson and speaking to the CEO, the man is offered a great deal of money for the motorcycle "sight unseen." Over the years, the amount offered has ranged from several thousand dollars (a great deal of money in the late 70's or early 80's) to a more "updated" amount of several million dollars.

Various versions of the story have different explanations for how the determination is made the motorcycle belonged to Elvis. The two most popular versions are either the Harley-Davidson company runs the I.D. number of the cycle or there is a inscription of some kind saying "from Elvis to whomever" or "to Elvis from whomever."

Other versions of the story have the buyer as Jay Leno. Mr. Leno has categorically denied it happened. He states, "I do not buy show-business memorabilia."

Also, representatives from Graceland and Harley-Davidson have denied any of the stories are true. There are true stories of "being in the right place at the right time" like the Declaration of Independence story, where a man bought what he thought was just an old picture for four dollars but it turned out to be an original print of the document. He sold the document at auction for 2.2 million dollars. It does happen, but the Elvis story has been denied and no one has ever come forward to claim they were the person who bought the motorcycle in the first place.


THE MISSING DOLLAR
This is a famous brain teaser, but it is a "misdirection." There is no missing dollar. Here is the short version story (there are numerous variations):

Three men travelling across the country stop at a hotel for the night. The price of the room is $25 but the hotel clerk can't come up with a good way to divide $25 by three, so he tells the men the price is $30. Each man gives the clerk a ten dollar bill and they all go to the room.

Later, the clerk begins to feel guilty, so he gives the bellhop five one dollar bills and tells him to take the five dollars to the men. The bellhop knocks on the door and then explains to the men that the clerk accidentally overcharged them. Unable to come up with a good way to split the five one dollar bills, the men decide to give the bellhop a $2 tip and keep one dollar each.

Since the men each gave the clerk a ten dollar bill and recieved one dollar each in change, that means they spent $9 each, or a total of $27. If you take the $27 and add the $2 the men tipped the bellhop, you get a total of only $29. Where is the missing dollar?

For some reason, most of the explanations, even though correct, are extremely complicated, but here is the simple answer: The men did in fact spend $27 ($9 each). The $2 they tipped the bellhop is PART OF the $27 ($25 for the room plus $2 to the bellhop equals the $27). The one dollar each in change totals $3 and THAT is the $3 that you add to the $27 to come up with the total of $30.

A more concise explanation is: the men spent $25 for the room and $2 for the bellhop's tip. They recieved a total of $3 in change ($1 each). $27 + $3 change = $30. There is just no other correct way to figure it. I have had several people argue that I am wrong, but I assure you that is the correct answer. If you can't see it, sit down with 30 one dollar bills and figure it out yourself.

The reason this UL works (and most other ULs for that matter) is because people accept what they are told without question. When they hear "$27 plus 2 only equals $29" it never occurs to them that isn't the correct way to figure it. They don't realize they are being misled.


GLURGE* STORIES
A "glurge" story is a story that is told to make you feel good. The phrase "chicken soup for the soul" comes to mind. There's nothing directly wrong with them, except that I have a problem when any story that is not true is told like it really happened, especially when it is told from a church pulpit as many of the "glurge" stories are.

Typically, a "glurge" story tells a heartwarming or inspirational story, but usually they are not true, or are distortions of the truth. In my opinion this does nothing to further our testimony (as Christians) and only shows the lack of willingness to verify information before passing it on as true. To simply take a story that you do not know to be true, and tell it like it is true, is just short of lying, and at least, should be considered at least the same as perpetuating a lie, especially, when most of the time, the information can be easily verified or discredited. Some examples of the most common stories I've heard follow. Some of these are not specifically "glurge" stories, but follow the format of "distorted truth" or outright lies that are often told from church pulpits.

I do not wish to take away from the "message" of the stories, but when any story is told like it is true, but it really isn't, it's just a lie.


Proctor and Gamble is owned by Satanists
According to various sources, this one may have been an outright lie started by an overzealous Amway salesman. Other sources state no one really knows where this particular rumor started.


Witch doctor asks why rock music uses same rhythm he uses to summon demons
This story circulated during the 70s and 80s when there was a specific "rock music is evil" thing going on. While opinions vary on the effects of "evil" music on the minds of young people, the story about the witch doctor is as follows: a witch doctor accepts Christ after speaking to a jungle missionary. After leaving the jungle, the now "ex" witch doctor goes to church and hears a Christian rock band performing. He leaves, and later asks the pastor (or whoever) why the drum beat played in the "Christian" music is the same as the drum beat he used to used to summon demons in the jungle. Obviously, this was a tactic used to simply further the opinion that "Christian rock" music was inherently evil because it was "rock" music. All that aside, my question is, what witch doctor? What church? Where? When? Anyone care to give me any actual details?

There are other problems with the story. Am I to believe that every Christian rock band uses the same exact drum beat for every song, or is it just incredibly coincidental that the witch doctor happened along during the one song that had the same drum beat as he used to summon demons during his tenure as a satanist? Besides this, I have an anecdote that is similar to this story. A few years ago, a friend of mine received a book from another friend of his. This book explained all about how Christian rock music was evil (for various reasons I won't go into here) and how anyone who listens to it is basically worshiping Satan. After reading the book, my friend gave the book back to the person, stating the book was actually about music that person listens to. My friend listens to Rez Band and a few other Christian bands that play what is considered "rock" music. The person that gave my friend the book listens to Sandy Patty, Larnel Harris, and other "mild" Christian singers. Upon closer inspection, the book was referring to these "mild" Christian artists as evil.

The point is, just about anything ambiguous (rock music, for example; it's ambiguous when you don't define what makes up "rock" music) can be applied to almost any subject. Anyway, no one has ever been able to verify the "demon music" story.


Jimi Hendrix plays the national anthem on feedback guitar
This was a big deal a few years ago during the 70s and 80s during the "rock music is evil" thing I was talking about in the last paragraph. Here's my response to that: So what? There isn't anything evil about that. Rosanne Barr murdered the national anthem a few years ago, but nobody considered her evil; just an idiot. It doesn't mean anything.


Subliminal advertising
There are no definitive scientific studies that prove subliminal advertising works. The term is attributed to James Vicary, who claimed to have made some studies on the effect of subliminal advertising. He claimed he placed messages that lasted for 1/3000th of a second into a movie during its run at a theater in Ft. Lee, NJ during the summer of 1957. The messages were "Drink Coke" and "Hungry? Eat popcorn." He claimed during that particular run of the movie ("The Picnic") sales of Coca-Cola rose about 18% and sales of popcorn rose almost 60%. The version I heard when I was a kid was "pictures of coke and popcorn." Regardless, the major problem with the story Vicary was later challenged to repeat the experiment by Dr. Henry Link, the president of the Psychological Corporation, and that experiment resulted in no increased sales of anything. Vicary later admitted he lied about the results of the first experiment and some psychologists now doubt whether it was ever actually performed in the first place. Over the years, several other psychologists tried to prove Vicary was right, but no significant data has ever been produced that proves anything either way.

Another version of this story is the "backward masking" theory that says some songs have hidden messages that can only be heard by the subconscious mind when playing the records backwards. While it is true some songs seem to have discernable words and sentences when played backwards, it's never been definitively proven it has any effect on anything. I have seen at least one article in a psychiatry magazine that stated psychologists don't all agree with the theory that the mind "hears all sounds backwards and forwards" as some people have stated, and that this legend depends upon.

It should also be noted that not everyone hears exactly the same thing in every song. Probably one of the most famous backward masking songs is "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. When played backwards, it supposedly makes a statement about marijuana, but some people hear "I decided to smoke marijuana" and some people hear "It's fun to smoke marijuana." Another song "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin supposedly has whole paragraphs when played backwards. I have heard both, and while some of it does seem to be there, some of the lyrics people "hear" in my opinion, are vague and you have to really convince yourself it says a certain thing or you can't hear it.

I can say that when I was a kid, "Another One Bites the Dust" was one of my favorite songs. However, regardless of what any "expert" might try to say, I never had any desire to smoke marijuana.

Side note:
According to some sources, the term "backward masking" refers only to a certain type of visual phenomenon, and not to audible ones. Since I am not discussing the visual phenomenon here, I am choosing not to define what it really means, for purposes of space, since it is irrelevant to what I'm talking about. I state this here, only so I won't get flooded with email saying I using the term incorrectly. I will only say this: regardless of whether the term is correctly or incorrect, it is commonly used when referring to the phenomena of words/sentences being audible when music is played backwards, so that's why I use it here.


Psalm 118:8 is the center of the Bible
This can be right or wrong depending on what you're talking about. "The Bible" is a relative term. The Jewish Bible is different from the Christian Bible. Even in "Christian" circles, there are different versions. For instance, the "Catholic" Bible is different from most Protestant Bibles. This UL seems to apply to the King James Version or any version that is a direct translation of the King James Version.

According to the rumor, Psalm 118 is the center chapter of the Bible, supposedly having 594 chapters before it and 594 chapters after it. This part of the UL is flatly incorrect. Psalm 118 has 595 chapters before it and 593 after it, so by that reckoning, it is NOT the center chapter of the King James Version, or any any version that is a direct translation of the KJV. Based on number of chapters, Psalm 117 is the center chapter. Psalm 117 has only two verses, so that chapter has no "center" verse.

Now, let's look at number of verses. According to most records, the Bible has an entire verse count of 31,174, which is an even number, so there is no "exact" center verse. The two center verses are the 15,587th and the 15,588th verse. This means Psalm 118:8 AND 118:9 are the center verses. Interjected note: some sources have the Bible as having 31,102 verses (because some versions are different) with Psalms 103: 1-2 being the middle two verses.

As stated before and in other parts of this section, this does not take anything away from the meaning of Psalm 118:8. It just means this verse is not the EXACT center verse of the Bible, and nothing more.


Pepsi leaves out 'Under God' on their new cans
This legend says Pepsi is selling (or going to sell) new soda cans with the pledge of allegiance printed on the side, but they left out "two little words." The "two little words" are "under God." There are several things are wrong with this story. First, it wasn't Pepsi. It was Dr. Pepper.

Second, they did not print the entire plege of allegiance omitting only the words "under God." Dr. Pepper produced a patriotic can, but the only the following words were printed on the can: "One nation...indivisible." According to the company, they chose these three words because they felt it most accurately represented the patriotic message they wanted to convey. They were not trying to "leave out God" but simply to portray a patriotic message. They also did not print any of the other words of the pledge, but no one ever mentions that aspect of it.

I have seen one of the cans and anyone that looks at it and draws the conclusion that Dr. Pepper printed the entire pledge except for those two words in order to intentionally persecute Christians and "leave out God" lives in their own panicky "Christians are persecuted on every level" little world.

Third, it was a limited run that occurred in 2001. It's been over with for years. Get over it and move on with your life.


The U.S. Government leaves "In God We Trust" off the new presidential dollar coins
There are two parts two this. First, there were a few dollar coins printed without the phrase on the coin. It was an unintentional error, and as soon as it was discovered, it was corrected. If you find one of these coins, keep it. It will probably be worth something one day.

Second, the phrase on the new coins is printed on the edge of the coin, as is other information such as the year and the president's name..

updated rumor, came about later, after the first rumor was shown to be incorrect

The phrase is printed on the edge of the coin so it will wear off quicker and have no mention of "God."
Good lord. I'm not even going to comment.


The word Christmas is no longer allowed at businesses/the "war" on Christmas
Every year at Christmas I hear plenty of people say "Merry Christmas" and I still see the word Christmas in sales ads. While I will concede that some businesses may restrict what employees say, limiting them to "Happy Holidays" or something similar, it should be noted that it's usually because there are people in the U.S. that don't celebrate Christmas, and not because they are "in a war against Christmas" and, there is no evidence that it's "most" or even "many" businesses. It should also be noted that there are several holidays that occur between November and the first of January, and retail business run sales during that entire time, not just on December 24th and 25th. Remember that the entire reason retail businesses exist is to make money by selling you products, not to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Christians like to pretend that Christianity is the only religion that exists, and that everyone should cater exclusively to our religious beliefs, but there are plenty of other religions in the U.S. and just because many (or maybe most) Christians believe that Christianity is the only true religion, that doesn't change the fact that in a retail business, you can't just pretend those other people don't exist. You have to cater to everyone, not just to Christians.

That said, if you find some business that actually restricts employees from using the word Christmas and you choose to stop patronizing that business, fine, but to say that the word Christmas is "no longer allowed to be spoken at any business" is an outright lie or an unintentional perpetuation of a lie, and to say "businesses no longer allow employees to say the word "Christmas" is an overtly gross exaggeration.


People that write "Xmas" are trying to leave "Christ" out of "Christmas."
Uhh...no. If you're going to make statements, please do a little reasearch. The letter X is the Greek symbol which actually means "Christ" and the Oxford English Dictionary documents this as far back as 1551 (60 years before the King James Bible even existed) and at the time, "Xian" and "Xianity" were used as abbreviations for "Christian" and "Christianity" and the symbol can be found in some Christian art and documents as far back as 1000 years.

Yes, it's possible that SOME people might not know that and might do it intentionally, but in general, that is an incorrect statement, and if anyone does it to "leave Christ out" then it's delicious irony, since they are using a substitution that specifically means "Christ."


The Harry Potter movies have sparked an increased interest in Satanism
This is not true. This rumor started because of an article on "The Onion" web page. "The Onion" is a WELL-KNOWN satirical web site. The stories on it ARE NOT TRUE.


Sandstorm uncovers land mines in (pick country) during (pick war)
Didn't happen. I have heard this story told of at least three different wars. There is no evidence of this really happening. Another version tells of a rainstorm or windstorm that diverts clouds of chemicals fired from some sort of chemical weapons.


NASA Scientists Discover Missing Day and Prove God Exists
Briefly, this legend says scientists at NASA running a computer program to estimate future positions of planets discover a missing day in history and find their answer in the Bible, in the chapters concerning the "Day the sun stood still" for Joshua at the battle of Jericho. The funny thing is, this legend has been going around since at least 1936, well before NASA even existed and the person listed as the "expert" was not involved with NASA directly. He was merely an electrical contractor hired to service electrical generators, and had nothing to do with scientific calculations. For more info, see the following link: Missing Day:


George Bush takes time off to talk about Jesus with a teenage boy
There is no evidence that this really happened. According to the story, the President simply walked away from a scheduled function to witness to a boy. As nice as this story is, it didn't happen. The President has a very specific schedule to follow, and simply walking away from a function like this is extremely unlikely.


John Wayne accepts Christ during last few days of his life
This didn't happen either. The Duke converted to Catholicism near the end of his life and he did write to Robert Schuller's daughter, who had been injured, during recovery after her leg amputation. These two facts, a late-life conversion and a "get well soon" note sent to a friend's sick daughter, have been combined into this current story meant to underscore the importance of "witnessing for Jesus" and a "never give up on anyone because it's never too late" attitude. One obvious determining factor is the fact that he died before the story supposedly happened.


Soldier during (pick war) uses playing cards to pray
This story has been told many times over the years and has been said to have happened during many different wars and to many different soldiers, but it didn't happen. The original story was in a 1948 song by Texas Tyler and has been retold many times over the years by various people.


CNN interviewer allows soldiers to use cell phone to call home
The story is, while overseas, Martin Savidge, an interviewer with CNN, told four soldiers they could use his cell phone to make a phone call to the states. One of the four men went and got their Sergeant and let him call his wife, who had just had a baby. Savidge was so impressed, he fought off tears to ask, "Where do you find men like this?" while on a live broadcast. CNN and Martin Savidge both deny it actually happened. CNN stated, "While it is common for an interviewer to allow a soldier use his cell phone, this particular story is untrue."


Little boy agrees to transfuse his sister, thinking he will die
A little boy agrees to allow a blood transfusion from him to his little sister, who is deathly ill with a blood disease. When the tubes are hooked up and the blood starts flowing, the little boy asks "will I start to die right away?" Obviously, he thought they wanted "all" his blood. It's a great story, but there's no evidence it ever happened.


Unburned Bible found in rubble at the Pentagon
This story was spread around after the fire at the Pentagon was finally put out. One worker admitted later he was told that someone found an unburned book, but it was never said it was a Bible, and he merely told the story because he assumed it might be a Bible. I heard a similar story years ago about an unburned picture of Jesus in a fire at a home, but no one could ever tell me where and when it happened, just like always.


Man who buys unwanted painting at estate auction inherits entire estate
A rich man dies and his estate is up for sale. The first item up for sale is a picture of the rich man's son, but no one will bid on the picture. Cries from the audience are heard, "Nobody cares about that picture! Sell the other items!" The auctioneer stands there, still asking for bids on the picture. Finally, the rich man's poor servant steps forward and says, "I only have $5.00, but I bid $5.00 on the picture." "Sold," says the auctioneer. "The auction is over." The crowd asks what happened. The auctioneer explains the rich man left specific instructions in his will. Whoever would buy the picture of his son would instantly inherit the rest of the estate. The poor man's servant was now rich! It's a great story, but it is strictly untrue. It is told as "who will take the Son," as a reference to the treasure you inherit by accepting Jesus (the son of God).

There are several other stories circulating that are very similar to this one, such as the same basic story, but the person who inherits the estate is anyone who attends a recluse's funeral or a similar story about a young man who, years later, finds keys, title, or a check for the purchase amount, for a new car he always wanted, in a Bible he spurned as a graduation gift years earlier. All these stories play on the same basic idea; inheriting something for a small act of kindness (a variation of the idea you can inherit the Kingdom of Heaven by simply accepting the Son of God as your Saviour) or the opposite, the idea of losing a great gift when you spurn the simplest of gifts (what you lose by not accepting the Son of God).


A man must decide whether to save his son or his son's friend
This story is about a man who takes his son and his son's friend out for a fishing trip. Both boys fall overboard in a bad storm and the father must decide which to save (he has only one life preserver to throw). He knows his son is a Christian but the friend is not, so he throws the life preserver to the friend, knowing if he lets his son's friend die, the friend will spend eternity in Hell, but he knows his own son is saved, so his son will spend eternity in Heaven. Sometimes this story is told with both boys in a wrecked car in front of a oncoming train instead of in a storm. A variation has the father with a son stuck on a track and the father must decide between flipping a switch that will derail the train or allowing the train to kill his son, yet save the thousands of people on the train. Where is a "button" that allows you to derail a train?

Anyway, these stories play on the "sacrifice of the Son" idea; that God sacrificed his own Son in order to save the world (John 3:16) or the lives of the unsaved are important enough to God that he would sacrifice the life of his own Son (Jesus) in order to save us. While these stories do make great examples, they are told like they really happened.


Eddie O'Hare rolls over on Al Capone to teach his son a lesson
Easy Eddie O'Hare was one of Al Capone's cronies. He was an attorney, and Al Capone made him very rich. The story is, in his last days, Easy Eddie, knowing full well Capone would kill him, decided to roll over on Capone and become a witness for the government in order to put Capone away. The rumor is he did this so he could teach his son Butch O'Hare a lesson in honesty and integrity. Butch went on to do great things; he was a fighter pilot in World War II and he was decorated as a hero for various missions, and Chicago's O'Hare airport was named after him.

While the basics of this story are true, there is no evidence that Easy Eddie rolled over on Capone to teach his son any lessons, or that he knew he would be killed for ratting out Capone. History indicates that he rolled over on Capone because he saw the "writing on the wall." It was apparent that the "era of gangsters" was coming to an end, and all evidence indicates Easy Eddie was simply trying to save his own skin by turning States Evidence. There is no indication he did it to teach his son any lesson or that he knew he would be killed, even though he was.


Teacher dares student to put Jesus to the test, and is proven wrong
This story involves a teacher (usually a teacher of philosophy) who, at the beginning of each school year, stands before his class and asks if anyone can prove God exists. Then, he spends the whole year "proving" God doesn't exist.

Later, usually on the last day of the year, he stands before his class for the last time and asks if anyone will stand up and claim they still believe in God. He holds up a piece of chalk and says, "If God does exist, can he do something as simple as stop the piece of chalk from hitting the floor when I drop it?" He has done this every year from twenty years, and so far, no student has ever stood up, but this last year, one student, a committed Christian, does stand.

The teacher laughs at him and says "Let's see if your God can actually stop this piece of chalk from hitting the floor!" He drops the chalk, but it catches on the cuff of his shirt, skids down his pant leg, and gets stuck in the cuff of his pants. Amazing! The one time in twenty years someone stood up, God actually stopped the chalk from hitting the floor! It proves God really does exist! Some versions of the story have the teacher asking if God can keep the piece of chalk from breaking when it hits the floor, and it simply rolls off his pants and across the floor. Some other versions have the teacher drop an egg or glass beaker instead.

The teacher runs out in tears and the student stays and talks about Jesus to the remaining students, who all listen intently. Usually several more are "saved."

If it was true, this would be a fantastic story. It might prove that God does exist and would be a great witnessing tool for us Christians. The problem is, it cannot be verified as a true story. Printed versions of this story have been around as early as 1977. The 1977 version is from a book of memoirs by a man named Richard Harvey, and he places the story as having happened in 1920 at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he was a student at the time.

However, he does not state he was present when it happened, but merely that it was something he heard while he was attending the school. Yet another, "a friend of a friend" story. Even though this is the earliest known telling of the story, this alone does not prove it happened. The story has also been told in 1968, and again in the last few years, with the advent of widespread usage of the internet.

I have a friend who recently relayed the "Elvis Motorcycle" (see above) story to me like it had just happened a week or two ago to someone who was a "friend of a friend of a friend of his." Geez. This story has been floating around basically since Elvis died in 1977, and I've heard it several times, so how did it happen again just recently? How many motorcycles did Elvis own? How many did he abandon at yard sales? How may were "registered" with Harley-Davidson?

I also have a friend who told me once that she knew someone whose cousin had their kidney removed in the "Stolen Kidney" thing. Just because someone says they know someone or they heard it from someone they knew, DOES NOT mean it actually happened!

Also, listing a specific college or location does not make a story true. There is another rumor going around that says a college (pick one) is not allowed to have sororities because of a state law that says if a certain number of unmarried women live together, it is considered a brothel. The University or Memphis (formerly Memphis State) is one of the colleges this story is told about, however, the funny thing about that is, the University of Memphis does in fact have sororities. Interesting, huh?


The Bible says (insert subject here)
Everything you've ever heard isn't in the Bible. Don't say "The Bible says XXX." Instead, quote the chapter and verse, and verify it before you say it. There are many things people THINK the Bible says, that are either misquotations or simply not in the Bible and come from other sources.

Examples things simply not in the Bible:
"Spare the rod and spoil the child."
"God helps those who help themselves."

Examples of misquotations:
"Money is the root of all evil." The verse actually says "...the LOVE of money is the root of ALL KINDS of evil" and some translations even say "...the LOVE of money is A root..." This is translated by many people to mean "all types" or "many kinds" or "all sorts" and not "every single kind" of evil.

"Never drink alcohol in any amount." The verse actually says, "Do not get drunk (or fill yourself up) with wine." There is a verse in the Bible that says "Don't take strong drink" but in that verse, God is talking to a specific person about a specific situation. It is not a general command to all Christians to never take a drink.

SIDE NOTE:
According to some preachers, the Bible DOES prohibit drinking, but it depends on the interpretation of the original words used, and people that say "the Bible says alcohol is always sinful" are never talking about that anyway.


Sign of the cross saves a swimmer's life
In this story, there is this fellow who is a diver for a college diving team. A friend has been witnessing to him about Jesus, but the guy will not accept Jesus as his saviour. It seems this fellow is training for the Olympics, so he has special pool privileges. He goes to the pool one night to practice his dives, but when he stands on the diving board with his hands out (raised in the typical "about to dive" formation) the light of the moon, which has come through either the ceiling or a glass wall, casts a shadow of the cross on the wall, formed from shadow of his body and arms. He falls under conviction about not having accepted Christ and kneels right there to be saved. Suddenly, the lights come on because a pool attendant has come back to refill the pool with water, since it was drained to be cleaned earlier that night. He would have been killed!

This story is usually told like it happened at the University of Cincinnati in 1967, and the students name was Charles Murray. The University of Cincinnati has actually checked into their records and there were no students by that name enrolled at the college in 1967. There were two students by that name at the college in the 60's but neither one was there in 1967, and neither was a diver. Add to this the fact that at least one Snopes.com reader remembers hearing the story as early as 1950, it sort of takes away from the validity of it having ever actually happened.

You also have to wonder how, if there was enough light coming through the window from the moon to cast a shadow, how could he have not noticed there was no water in the pool? Surely, at some point, he had to pass near the edge of the pool to get to the diving board. Why wouldn't he have turned on the lights? Why wouldn't he have checked the water to be sure nothing was in his diving path?


Forward this email if you believe in God/Jesus
There are a plethora of emails going around that state something along the lines of "If you are not ashamed of Jesus forward this email. If you refuse to forward this, you are saying that you are ashamed of him, and he will be ashamed of you when you come before the Father."

Ok, let me just say this: Jesus will be ashamed of me if I don't forward every email I get that has his name in it and has already been forwarded untold thousands of times, and many times, the email isn't even true in the first place? Really? I'm going to hell for that?


Declaration of Independence signers meet terrible fates because they signed it
Some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence met terrible fates, but not all did, and some of the information given in this story is simply wrong. According to historical documents, the only person ever actually imprisoned for signing was Richard Stockton, but his name is omitted from the list. This is probably due to the fact that he was the only one of the signers that recanted the promises made by signing the document. He was imprisoned and probably tortured, and eventually re-swore his loyalty to the British. He was released shortly after he recanted, but he did not die from injuries received while in prison, although the treatment he received while in prison may have dramatically shortened his life.

The signers that did meet with bad circumstances did not meet them "because" they signed the document, but merely because they were caught up in a war, and in general, sometimes in war, people are hurt or killed. Many people that didn't sign the document met with bad fates also. What about them?

Also, in a related rumor, John Hancock did not say, "There, I guess King George can read that!" when he signed his name. Even though his name is the largest name on the document, the Declaration of Independence was not addressed to King George nor was it ever intended to be delivered directly to the King. It was simply a document intended to explain to the colonists why the Continental Congress wanted to break away from the tyranny of the King's rule, and was not addressed to the king himself.


Australian crime rate proves guns save lives/prevent crime
While this one is not a religious story, I belive it belongs in the "glurge" category. Gun people love this one because it proves "we were right all along." While I have my own opinion about guns (I am pro-gun, but this is not the forum to argue those opinions) it is true that most statistics can say whatever you want them to say. Some of the statistics quoted here are not complete. One very good point made on the Snopes site is that in general, Australians do not have the general right to own guns like Americans. The "typical" Aussie does not own a gun, or certainly at least, does not own a handgun. Therefore, an increase in some crime after a gun buy-back program in Australia may be unrelated to the buy-back program. In America, if every person was suddenly required to turn in their guns, it would relate to millions and millions of guns (assuming all otherwise law abiding citizens complied). In Australia, since most citizens didn't own handguns in the first place, only a very few guns would be turned in. After the Australian buy-back, the typical Australian citizen was not "suddenly" unarmed.

One specific statistic quoted states that murder went up in one state over 100 percent. When you look at the numbers, the numbers are, the previous year, there were 7 murders, the next year, there were 19. Yeah, that's more than 100 percent, but that's not the same as if the numbers were 400 and 1000. Also, considering the population of the state described had also increased, a statistic of "murders per 100,000" or similar would probably be more relevant than a simple comparison of raw numbers. Also, the email lists the increase from 7 to 19 as a percentage of 300, but it is really only a percentage of only 270 percent, when figured that way. The actual "increase" from 7 to 19 is only 171 percent. The increase is only 12, which is 171 percent of 7. It would be more accurate to say, "The following year, there were 2.7 times as many murders," rather than "The murder rate increased by 270 percent."

Also, it should be noted the buy-back program did not ban all guns. Only certain "assault weapons" and semi-auto weapons had to be turned in.

Statistics do not mean much in general. Here are a few examples. All of the following statistics can be verified through the "U.S. Statistical Abstract."

L.A. has 55,000 gang members, Memphis only has 10,000, so L.A. has more gang members, making L.A. a much worse city.

Memphis has a population of 700,000, L.A. has a population of 3.8 million, so Memphis has more gang members per per 100,000, making Memphis worse.

Memphis is only 300 square miles, L.A. is 470. Memphis has more gang members per square mile of city, making Memphis worse.

D.C. has a larger number of murders than Memphis, so D.C. is a worse city. Memphis has more murders per 100,000, so Memphis is a worse city.

NYC has a larger number of murders than Memphis, so NYC is a worse city. Memphis has more murders per 100,000, so Memphis is a worse city.

New Orleans has a larger number of murders than Memphis, so New Orleans is worse. Memphis has a higher percentage of general violent crime, so Memphis is worse.

11% of all rape/assaults are committed with guns, guns are evil.
17% of all rape/assaults are committed with other weapons, all weapons are evil.
72% of all rape/assaults are committed with no weapons, so no weapons are evil.

Out of every 100,000 people in the U.S., 740 black people were arrested for violent crime, so black people pose a threat to our safety.

But, out of every 100,000 people in the U.S., 1311 white people were arrested for violent crime, so white people pose a greater threat to our safety.

According to some sources, 87% of all lung cancer is caused from smoking, so smoking is dangerous.

However, only 10% (or less) of all smokers die from lung cancer, so smoking isn't all that dangerous.

This is an extremely basic example of how the same statistic can say different things.


*The term "glurge" was coined, as I understand it, by Barbara and David Mikkelson, the good folks who maintain the Snopes website. If you've never seen that website, check it out. I use it quite often and consider it an invaluable source for verifying stories, especially since they give cites for their sources. Certain information on my page here was obtained from the Snopes website. Snopes.com


For more information, click this link and check any of the "urban legends" links. Misc Links


Some people say "What difference does it make? I forward them in case they are true." For an opinion on this, see this link: [link deleted]

UPDATE: The link was a link to a Christian UL website, but has currently been disabled because the author of the website took some time off to write a book. The article stated, essentially, that we, as Christians, should do everything we can to purpetuate the truth, and that forwarding stories that are untrue do nothing to perpetuate the truth.

It also gave some examples showing the ill effects of forwarding some of the stories. Case in point, apparently, due to the "Cindy Williams Hates the Military" UL, the Cindy Williams of Lavergne and Shirley fame recieved quite a bit of hate mail. Another example was elderly people who refused to properly prepare for some sort of illness because of an untrue story.

Another example is a rumor that says a drop of Visine in a drink will give a person diarrhea. There are problems with this. According to the National Institute of Health, diarrhea is not one of the symptoms of digesting Visine, but it can result in Tetrahydrozoline poisoning, and some of the symptoms of that are: nausea, vomiting, dangerously high and/or low blood pressure, headache, tremors, seizures, and even coma or death. So, if, because of a rumor, you slip a drop of Visine into someone's drink, instead of causing diarrhea, the person might actually die or suffer severe health problems.
The lighter side of Urban Legends: A little UL humor!:


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