How urban legends work

View image of Slender Man fans like to dress up as the feared character Getty Images Credit: Getty Images Appealing to both the social and survival biases, the story of a serial killer who lures women to their death, with the sounds of a baby crying proved to be most popular of all.

Others, along a similar vein, might include the story of the inadvertent biscuit thief that ends in excruciating embarrassment.

what is the purpose of urban legends

The assumption of mass action is that, like molecules in a test-tube, people are mixing with each other constantly. Except that it was someone's boyfriend's brother—or friend's cousin, or doctor's travel agent—who became ill.

The game, titled Polybius, was alleged to have prompted feelings of disorientation, amnesia, game addiction, and even suicide. People tend to share articles that makes them feel strongly to whatever the topic of the legend is. Discovering the truth behind urban legends, however, isn't as important as the lessons they impart, experts say.

He apparently drank too much soda and experienced stomach discomfort.

mexican urban legends

But there is absolutely no evidence that any such thing ever occurred, in Las Vegas or anywhere else. You spread the story of the man with no face throughout Pennsylvania.

urban legend examples

From the perspective of believers, myths act as proof and reinforce existing beliefs. Why are some rumors short-lived, while others never seem to die?

Urban legends that are true

This traveling tale has been confirmed multiple times over. Police tried, unsuccessfully, to locate the man. Although children mix mostly with other children during the day, they spread rumors to their older siblings and to their parents at home in the evening, and vice versa. This is the claim that, as part of an initiation, gang members driving at night without headlights will pursue and shoot the occupants of any car which flashes them a warning. One of his first sightings came at an asylum ; after a bloody rampage in the hospital, a photo emerged of his ghostly but silent presence hiding in the stair well while the chaos erupted around him. Similarly there are great debunking websites for urban legends, such as Snopes. In , guests at a Budget Lodge in Memphis were horrified to discover they had been sleeping above the body of Sony Millbrook, a missing person. There are two modes of exit from susceptibility: infection and skepticism. Urban legends often come with a dose of skepticism. From a social perspective, these stories become part of collective reality. Consider Little Red Riding Hood. It has been relayed by word of mouth, e-mail and even printed fliers. The concept of exponential decay plays an important role in models of this type. No spam, we promise.

We are also drawn to themes of survival — which is why many stories deal with life and death. Measles involves recovery or death within a few weeks of initial infection, whereas some rumors may be believed for years. Drain plumbing for toilets is typically three inches in diameter or more, plenty of space for a rat to climb up.

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Why urban legends are more powerful than ever