From a broad perspective, urban legends express a modern form of mythology and folklore with strong roots in the natural human fear of the unknown. Even though most people are aware of the fictional nature of the stories, some of these urban myths enjoy an astounding amount of credibility.
It is possible that the plausibility of such tales has something to do with the fact that they always seem to happen to a friend, cousin or friend’s cousin, a fact that gives the storyteller a certain level of authority. In reality, urban legends are nothing more than good stories that have a moral and perhaps, this is one of the explanations to why so many people fall for them. Let’s examine the modern myths that have managed to gain a lot of popularity nowadays.
1. Bloody Mary
Often played at children slumber parties, the myth of Bloody Mary appearing after being summoned three times is nothing more than folklore. Obviously, it is basically than a test of courage for children, particularly since the summoning of the alleged witch Mary Worth must take place in a completely dark room.
There have been so many rumors and misinformation regarding the most popular soft drink in the world, that it deservers its own name: “Cokelore”. Essentially, numerous pseudo-experts claim that Coca-Cola has the capacity to dissolve anything, from teeth to tissue overnight. Well, this is partially true: some of the ingredients found in Coca-Cola like phosphoric and citric acids can dissolve various items given a certain time. However, the concentration of acids in this soft drink is actually very low and the digestive system is very capable of dealing with them.
3. The good Samaritan
This urban myth has been around for a very long time and underwent several variations. Nonetheless, the basic idea is the same in all variants: somebody stops to help a motorist change a flat tire and he is being asked for his home address so that he can be rewarded. After a certain period, the motorist who lends a helping hand will find a check for a large sum of money signed by a celebrity. Considering that rumors suggest it was Donald Trump who paid off his helper’s mortgage, you can understand why this is legend seems implausible.
4. The alligators in the sewer
If you were to believe the gossip, the sewer system of New York is currently overwhelmed by deadly alligators that were released by their masters after they became big and aggressive. Even though some animals that escaped from the zoo have been found in the system, there are actually no alligators lurking around in the NY sewers!
5. The mysterious hitchhiker
Considering the popularity of this urban legend, you surely heard at least one its variation. To summarize, a motorist picks up a hitchhiker (usually a young woman) on a deserted road and drives her home. When they get to the destination, the young woman suddenly disappears and the confused driver decides to ring the doorbell of the house she indicated. To his surprise, the person answering the door tells him that the woman has been dead for a few years, killed in a car accident that took place at the exact spot he picked her up.
6. Strangers are out to steal your kidney
This scary urban legend has been intensely promoted by Hollywood and many people believe it is authentic. Essentially, a solitary traveler stops to get something to eat in a restaurant when a stranger joins him and offers him something to drink. The next day, the traveler wakes up in terrible pain and finds a note informing him to call 911 because they stole his kidney. According to the National Kidney Foundation, none of these cases has been confirmed.
7. Shaving will make your hair grow coarser
Numerous people stay clear of hair remove methods like shaving because they fear that will make it grow back thicker and denser than before. This idea comes from the fact that short hair is in general perceived as coarser than long hair. If you were to compare the ends of long hair and short hair, you will notice that the latter is indeed thicker than the first. However, it has nothing to do with shaving and it is related to the fact that the short hair has a blunt end, whereas hair left to grow naturally will become tampered.
8. HIV spread through a syringe
Truth be told, this particular myth has created a tremendous hysteria among people, especially since there have been numerous reports of people getting stung with a syringe needle and being informed via a note that they just got infected with the HIV virus. While it is easy to understand people’s panic with the issue given the growing numbers of AIDS and HIV cases, let’s not forget that the virus itself is incapable of living outside the body for more than a few minutes.
While there are many variants to this modern myth, one of them is most commonly accepted: according to psychics and other paranormal activities supporters, the brain is separated into a conscious part (The 10%) and an unconscious part (90%). Now, when you see things from this perspective, you can understand the longevity of this particular urban legend. With the risk of disappointing believers in the paranormal, it is necessary to mention the fact that there are numerous imaging research techniques which clearly indicate that people use most areas of the brain.
10. Cryogenics and Walt Disney
Even though nobody can state for certain how this urban legend got started, it is very likely that it has something to do with Walt Disney’s secretive funeral and his reputation as an inventor. To summarize, rumor has it that Walt Disney’s body is currently cryogenically frozen and conserved until the time the scientists figure out a means to re-animate him. However, the truth is that following his death in 1966, his body was cremated according to his wishes.