10 LIES You Probably STILL Believe
Everybody has a story – just not all of them are true. Some widely circulated stories, or urban legends, have been retold and believed so many times that they’ve been accepted as fact. Have you fallen victim to any of these top 10 harmless tall tales or can you spot a bona fide urban legend when you hear one?
Black Market Kidneys
There are many things that can go wrong during a vacation, but having your organs removed and sold on the black market probably isn’t high on your concerns. That is unless you believe the age-old urban myth about tourists being drugged only to wake up the next morning, sans one organ, typically a kidney. The legend states that crime rings in cities like Houston, Las Vegas, and, in 1997, New Orleans were carefully collecting organs to sell on the black market. It may not sound like such an outlandish idea, but to date, there has been no corroboration from any person despite the National Kidney Foundation even calling out to alleged victims. Unfortunately, the legend picked up so much steam that, in Guatemala, where it was said Americans were kidnapping children for organ harvesting, American tourists were attacked by mobs.
Pop Rocks and Coke
There may not be many people left that believe this aged legend, but it’s a classic and cannot be overlooked. Back in the late 1970s, a story arose claiming that the face of LIFE cereal, Little Mikey, portrayed by young John Gilchrist, died from a fatal combination of Pop Rocks candy and soda. Apparently, the carbon dioxide in the rocks would react adversely with the carbonated soda, causing an internal explosion in one’s stomach. The myth gained so much popularity that the FDA implemented a hotline to dispel rumors and attempt to save Pop Rocks’ name, though the candy was temporarily discontinued in the 80s. In case you haven’t caught on yet, the mixture won’t kill you, John Gilchrist did not suffer from a candy-fueled abdominal explosion and is still alive and well today.
Navy SEAL Fred Rogers
Think you know all there is to know about the docile, sweet-voiced Mr. Fred Rogers? According to some storytellers, living in his neighborhood meant living within range of a former Navy SEAL or Marine Scout Sniper. The story goes that Fred Rogers was once a killing machine during Vietnam, but it’s all just a farce from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. While it’s a cool story to associate with one of the world’s most gentle public figures, Mr. Rogers was too old for the draft and a little too busy to enlist himself. The courtly neighbor was born in 1928, making him 41 at the time of the draft, and rather than go into the military after school, Mr. Rogers’ sights were set on college and television.
Drill Instructor Knotts
Deputy sheriff Barney Fife may not have portrayed himself as a strong, authoritative figure, but apparently, the actor that played him, funnyman Don Knotts, carried himself in such a way that he gave off “Drill Instructor” vibes. Legend has it that Knotts served as a United States Marine Corps drill instructor at Parris Island during World War II. The reality, however, is pretty far from the myth. Though Knotts joined the United States Army immediately after high school, he was far from instructor material and spent the bulk of his service providing entertainment as a ventriloquist.
The Jedi Religion
No, we’re not denying that there are people out there that view Jedi as a viable religion and practice their version of the force; but what we are here to dispel is the circulating myth claiming that, during a national census, if 10,000 people cite “Jedi” as their religion, it will then be recognized as an official religion. The legend spurred from an e-mail that circulated in 2001, just prior to the census in many English-speaking countries. While the e-mail, which in some instances was signed “George Lucas,” worked and prompted hundreds of thousands of people to register as Jedi, there was no change to the official status of the Jedi religion. Though it was added to later census forms, the Office of National Statistics in the UK was quick to clarify that, while it is a choice, it’s still not recognized as an official religion.
JFK and the German Pastry
After the construction of the Berlin Wall in Germany, American president John F. Kennedy stood in front of West Berliners to show support. During his speech, Kennedy proudly claimed “Ich bin ein Berliner” and, per some accounts, his audience responded with giggles and laughter. What would cause the crowd to give such an odd response? According to a popular legend, Kennedy had just called himself a German jelly-filled pastry, also known as a Berliner. Though widely believed true, and substantiated by the New York Times in 1988, Kennedy’s assistant while writing the speech was Robert Lochner, a Berliner, and German interpreter during World War II. While many claim the article “ein” changes the meaning of the sentence to mean he was referring to himself as the pastry, as Kennedy was speaking figuratively, it was proper form.
The Duck’s Quack
Sounds like a pretty silly thing to make up a legend about, but hey there’s one out there and it’s mind-numbingly absurd. At some unknown point in time, some jokester decided to lead the world astray by claiming that, no matter what, a duck’s quack doesn’t echo. To support their claim, the legend ends on the most technical of notes: “and no one knows why.” The truth is, as proven by acoustic expert Trevor Cox and lab manager at Salford University, Danny McCaul, a duck’s quack definitely does have an echo. Cox claims that the quack suffers from a gradual decay and, therefore, may make differentiating between the quack and the echo a tad hard. Cox also believes that the duck’s natural environment of open-water regions could have further driven the myth.
The bubbly, caramel-colored beverage has received quite a bit of backlash over its lifetime and is constantly under scrutiny for its negative impact on health, but one must separate the fantastical claims from reality. Is Coca-Cola unhealthy? In large doses, absolutely, but if you were to listen to urban legends about the drink, you may think it has the power to rapidly dissolve some pretty solid substances. The most popular damaging myth is that a baby tooth left overnight in a glass of cola will be found partially dissolved the next morning. While the beverage does contain citric and phosphoric acids, neither is concentrated enough to even survive a trip through the digestive system let alone dissolve a human tooth.
Before the shock of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks even had a chance to subside, opportunists were quick to use them for shock and awe. Only days after the towers fell, this image began circulating the internet, allegedly depicting an ill-fated tourist who posed for a photograph atop the World Trade Center moments before the first plane hit. Before a Hungarian man named Peter stepped forward weeks later to claim credit for the doctored snapshot, the poorly edited image went on to fool and astonish many. A keen eye would recognize the fake based on several factors, including sloppy editing and the fact that the Boeing 757 American Airline plane pictured was different from the actual 767 that hit the tower.
Richard Gere’s Sexploration
Since the early 1970s, Richard Tiffany Gere has been a beloved member of Hollywood, stealing hearts and laughs in a range of movies including Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, and the far more thrilling Primal Fear. Being a man of the spotlight, the occasional tall tale is going to make its rounds, which is why, in the mid-1980s, Gere found himself popularly connected to the true events of men who get a little too friendly with gerbils. While it’s true a 26-year-old required a trip to the ER after forcing a gerbil through his back door, Gere’s involvement in such shenanigans came from a faxed press release allegedly by the Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that linked the actor to such twisted acts. It was later revealed the fax was fake, though Gere’s reputation was given quite a black mark.