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Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Sodatabs_1Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope famously quipped, "These days there's no such thing as an urban legend. There's just stuff that reality hasn't caught up to yet." He was dead on. It's as if the zeitgeist takes our unrealized fears as a challenge. From babies in the microwave to Kentucky's famous Kitchen Fresh Chicken to soda can tabs for kidney dialysis.

Where does it all lead? Is our collective unconscious compelling someone to tamper with halloween candy?

Urban Legends often arise innocently enough. But, they can be an effective tool for rumormongers to exact revenge or material gain.

Proctor and Gamble was once accused by Amway competitors of being run by devil worshippers who flaunted their satanic religion with a diabolical logo. The logo consisted of an old man's bearded face in the crescent moon, facing thirteen stars, all set within a circle. Some saw 666, the number of the Beast in Revelation (usually identified with Satan by the Christian watchdogs), lurking in the old man's beard and in the arrangement of the stars. Others saw a goat, surely a sign of the devil.
    - The Skeptic's Dictionary, Robert Todd Carroll
Before Google made it possible to quickly check on a rumor, one could forgive the gullibility of its believers. Look out though, some stories stoke our fears so perfectly they unleash our worst behaviour: the herd mentality.

October 21, 2004 in History | Permalink


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