Top Five Urban Legends Debunked

Urban legends have been around forever, resulting in tales that work off our fears. Here are five of the top urban legends you may have heard.

I can't even count the number of e-mails I have received that started off something like, "The following happened to a cousin of mine back in January of this year" or "Normally, I wouldn't forward this e-mail but this happened to somebody in my community recently."Everybody seems to know SOMEBODY who has been the victim of a kidney being removed for the black market or somebody getting rewarded hundreds of dollars just for forwarding an e-mail. Urban legends have been around forever, as fear of the unknown gets spun into macabre tales that proliferate with each person who hears them. With the advent of e-mail, these urban legends spread across the nation within hours. People love a good tale, especially ones that have a moral, as all urban legends do. Here are a few of those urban legends that we always seem to hear about, in one variation or another.

Kidney Harvesting

A friend of yours was vacationing in Mexico or Argentina or Miami and goes clubbing with a group of friends. He meets an attractive young woman and they go back to their apartment for some more drinks and fun. The next morning, he wakes up and he is lying in a tub of ice water. On his chest, in lipstick, is the cryptic message, "Do not move. Call 911." Next to him is a stool set up with a telephone. He dials 911 and tells the operator his situation. She asks him to feel his back for a tube. He says that he feels one. She tells him that his kidney has been harvested and help is on its way. When this story began to run the circuit, travelers began to get nervous. Many of the specific cities that were said to have a very prominent kidney harvesting ring were dumbfounded. Police departments began to post official statements that clearly reported that this legend was indeed fictitious. Even the National Kidney Foundation asked that those who had their kidneys harvested illegally should step forward, and not a single one did. Funny. Many feel that the origins of this urban legend began with the increase in medical organ transplants and people's innate fear that their healthy organs would be harvested for profit, to meet the demands of those who were on organ transplant waiting lists.

Money for Forwarding E-mails

You receive an e-mail from Bill Gates where he states that he has developed software to trace forwarded e-mails and will reward all those who forward this specific e-mail with $1000, as long as the e-mail ultimately gets forwarded to 1,000 people. First of all, rationally speaking, why would Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, be contacting you directly? Secondly, how in the world is he supposed to send you this $1,000 without an address? Thirdly, there is absolutely no e-mail tracing software that currently exists so it is absolutely impossible for this to be true.

Batter-Fried Rat

A woman goes into her local Kentucky Fried Chicken to pick up a bucket of chicken. She gets home and bites into one of the pieces of chicken and realizes it tastes funny. Soon she realizes it is not a chicken she bit into, it was a batter-fried rat! She either has to be hospitalized because she become physically ill or she experiences psychological problems because of it. There has never been an actual report of a batter-fried rat, but it is easy to explain why this urban legend surfaced. This legend has been around for quite a while, in many different variations. Sometimes, however, it may be a cat or small mouse that is batter-fried. Nowadays, we live in a society where fast-food is often the norm for dinner and it is a nation-wide chain that serves it to us; who knows where they get their meat from. And, of course, it is only natural that we worry about what is actually fried underneath that batter.

Tommy Hilfiger

Last week on Oprah, Tommy Hilfiger, the world-renowned designer, stated that if he knew minorities like Blacks and Hispanics were going to buy his clothes, he would never have made them. So everybody should stop buying Tommy Hilfiger clothes immediately since he is a blatant racist! This is an easy legend to debunk. Tommy Hilfiger was not on Oprah, thus, he never said those comments. If people would just do a little research before flying off the handle and forwarding along these messages, it would save everybody a whole lot of trouble.

AIDS Syringe

In Dallas, a woman sat down at a movie theater and felt something prick her. She looked down to find a syringe sticking straight up out of the seat with a note attached that said, "You have just been infected with the AIDS virus." The e-mail states that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed these reports. First, HIV cannot live outside the human body for more than a few minutes so the chances of somebody contracting AIDS from a needle sitting in a seat are slim to none. Secondly, the CDC issued official warnings stating they had never confirmed these alleged reports. With the onset of HIV and AIDS, people's fears got the better of them, resulting in yet another in a string of urban legends.

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