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Urban Legends Reference Pages

Aug 20, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Lots of useful information

Cons:A few pages load slowly

The Urban Legend Reference Pages (http://www.snopes.com) are a great reference, and lots of fun. These pages authoritively debunk or verify hundreds of urban legends with an entertaining style, and with humor.

The pages, operated by Barbara and David Mikkelson, are designed to help readers find out whether urban legends (stories that describe what happened to a friend-of-a-friend) are true or not. The categories on the site include:

- Critter Country - animal legends (ever hear about the alligators in the NYC sewers?).
- Inboxer Rebellion - stories that have been floating around the Internet due to people forwarding them to each other. The categories here include Petitions (sign here to stop AOL from charging for Instant Messages), Moral Outrage (gay Budweiser ads, Clinton murdering people who get in his way), and Pending Legislation (5-cent surcharges for each e-mail message sent).
- Business - legends about various corporate mishaps (Proctor and Gamble's Satanic connections).
- Horrors - including the Blair Witch hoax, the legendary Hook story, and the stoned babysitter who thought she was putting a turkey in the oven.
- Disney - including sexual messages in Disney films, and whether Walt was cryogenically frozen.
- Sex - The Richard Gere gerbil story. Green M&Ms. That one about the lobster. Lots of sick, hilarious stuff.
- Weddings - bizarre occurrences at weddings, and superstitions.
- Tales of the Wooden Spoon. A more-or-less miscellaneous category throwing together all kinds of classic legends.
- Radio and Television. The Groucho Marx cigar story, "In the butt, Bob", and little Mikey's supposed death, among lots of others.
- Humor. Humorous legends. The hotel-soap story, the brick-barrel one, and the dog named Sex are all included here.
- Love. The concrete-filled car, the surprise birthday party, and the pharmacist-father one...in general, these are all related to relationships.
- Titanic. Was there really a cursed mummy aboard the Titanic? Find out here!
- Christmas. Christmas legends and superstitions.
- Toxin du Jour. Find out what's really toxic and what's not.
- Errata. Fallacy-related legends, including "Ich bin ein Berliner", balancing eggs on the equinox, and Mussolini making trains run on time.
- College. Test scams, traditions, sexual legends, and many others related to college life.
- Music. Lots of legends related to musicians and their music. "Gloomy Sunday", Mariah Carey's bizarre comments, and is Paul McCartney dead?
- Pregnancy - octopus eggs, the rabbit test, the night train, and several others.
- Quotes - the famous sayings of people like Dan Quayle, Bill Clinton, Neil Armstrong, Liz Claiborne, and Chief Seattle.
- Cokelore. Coke-related stories - "Bite the wax tadpole", contraceptive uses, Merchandise 7-X, and others.
- Movies - Legends about movies and actors, including snuff films, Clara Bow and the USC football team, "A Party at Kitty and Stud's", and the dead boy in "Three Men and a Baby".
- Lost Legends. A category where the authors parody current legends.
- Religion - Including the "pi=3" story, the scientists discovering Hell in Siberia, and Nasa's lost day in time.
- Automobiles - car stories, including the JATO-equipped car, the vanilla-ice-cream story, and several hitchhiker legends.

What makes this site so fun is the detail with which legends are debunked and verified. The authors of the site were able to find newspaper articles, scientific information, audio clips, and movie sightings, and compiled them all so that each article is a wealth of information that authoritatively proves legends right or wrong.

Also, it's just plain fun to read these legends. The authors of the site include lots of different versions of each legend, so you can see how the legends have mutated over time. They also analyze the legends from a psychological standpoint - i.e., why do people spread this legend? What's so appealing about it that makes people want to share it and tell it as true?

The site is pretty well-designed. Some of the pages load slowly, because there are several images and banners, but it's worth the wait. If you don't like having music play, beware - MIDI music plays on each category page (but you can turn it off). It's easy to find particular legends, because of the categorization.

All in all, I'm stunned by the depth of this site. Not only does it list hundreds of urban legends, it also analyzes them down to the smallest detail. It's a commendable site - obviously, a lot of work went into it.


Recommend this product? Yes

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