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Urban Myths and Hoaxes

Urban Myths that Amuse Will and Guy

Fact or fiction?  That is the $64,000 dollar question.  The beauty of urban myths is that while they stretch belief, they don't burst the bubble.  The stories leave you with the feeling that there maybe some basis for the urban myth.  What's for sure is that urban myths spread with speed of a bush fire.

        Urban Myths

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Statues of Men on Horseback

The myth of the man on horseback statue is that horse's hooves indicate how the famous rider died.  This is how the sculptor's code works:

  • One hoof raised - rider wounded in battle.
  • Two hooves raised - rider died in battle.
  • Four hooves off the ground - rider survived the war and returned home alive.

Will and Guy's latest take on this horses hooves code is that it was true for equestrian statues of Gettysburg but that later sculptors forgot the convention, thus later statues are misleading.

For Example:

Four hooves on the ground (Survived the war)
General Ulysses S. Grant
General William Tecumseh Sherman

One hoof raised (Wounded in battle)
Major General Winfield Scott Hancock
Major General John A Logan

It has to be admitted that there are numerous later statues which don't match this code, thus we have to declare the myth busted.

Titanic Hull number: 3909 04 - NO POPE

Few ships spawn a greater mixture of true stories and urban myths than the Titanic.  For instance, did the band really play on as she sank?  Yes.   Survivors say they played ragtime and waltzes as the stern began to lift out of the water as the bow sank.Titanic - Urban Myth

It is the NO POPE saga that interests Will and Guy the most, partly because it has been quoted in erudite works about this famous liner.

So the story goes, one of the welders working on the liner noticed that the hull's number 3909 04 looked like NO POPE when viewed in a mirror.  In some accounts of the saga the Irish Catholic shipbuilders were offended, and cursed the ship.  Another variation has it that workers warned their bosses that the ship was the work of the devil.

The truth:  White Star's Titanic liner did indeed have a hull number, but it was the more mundane 401.

Grammy Gordon - Urban Myth

Charges were dropped yesterday against Ruth ' Grammy' Gordon, an 83-year-old wheelchair-bound grandmother, who was originally charged with assault and battery, and assault with a deadly weapon, because of an altercation she had last week with six airport security guards, that left all six hospitalised.  Read more about the case of Grammy Gordon

ExExamples of Will and Guy's Hoaxes and Urban Myths

Kilroy Was HereKilroy was here - Urban Myth

There are numerous urban myths surrounding the origin of the catch phrase: 'Kilroy was here'. Check out Kilroy

Piltdown Man

How could a part man, part ape skull fool so many for so long.  This true story has the extra ingredient that no-one has conclusively solved who carried out the hoax.  Investigate Piltdown Man yourself

Supermarket Saga

Dylan is in a queue at the Supermarket when he notices that the rather dishy blonde behind him has just raised her hand and is giving him a big ' hello' .  Find out why the dishy blonde was giving Dylan the time of day.

Difficult Landing - Urban Myth

An airline pilot on this particular flight hammered his plane into the runway really hard.  In light of his bad landing, he had difficulty looking the passengers in the eye, all the time he thought that a passenger would have a smart comment.  However, it seemed that all the passengers were too shell shocked to say anything.  Why was not all sweetness and light for the pilot?

Spaghetti Bushes

What made this convincing was that it was put on the BBC.  This was a time when the BBC was the pillar of society, no-one could believe that even on the first of April, that the BBC would put out a fake program about the manufacture of spaghetti.  This is how they pulled off the hoax.

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War of the Worlds

Watch out for alien hoaxes on the first of April.  However, the first alien hoax was on the 30th of October 1938.  This famous ' War of the Worlds hoax caught millions by surprise.  See what actually happened.

Turn a Black and White TV into Color

Will and I choose this hoax because it illustrates the naivety that you get when any new technology hits the masses.  This is how Kjell Stensson tricked thousands of Swedish viewers.

Human contact spreads computer viruses (April Fool Day Hoax)

The well respected PC Magazine published an article by 'A.C. Feafunnoll' on April Fool's Day 2005. It stated that:

'The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have issued a stunning joint announcement: PC viruses, worms, and spyware can now be transmitted via human contact. Researchers at St. Paul's College in Virginia have isolated roughly 100 cases of systems infected by human contact, the two agencies said at a press conference at NSF headquarters in Arlington, Virginia...

One researcher, Avril Hidokwon, said she investigated a case where the Netsky.P virus spread to 10 systems by sneezing'

The story then gave a link: 'For instructions on how you can decontaminate yourself and your PC and also avoid infection.'  This URL took gullible readers to an April Fool announcement. 

 

Footnote:
Please send us your favourite urban myth