Recently I’ve been falling asleep to the joys of Snopes, the urban legend web site. Most urban legends seem self-evident to me. Still, there are times I’m suckered by a tall tale. What’s more, Snopes lists stories that sound like urban legends but aren’t.
Some of my favorite urban legends are:
Multiplying your dog’s age by seven will produce its equivalent in human years. This is an example of a myth that had me snowed. I believed it to be true. One human year is not equivalent to seven dog years, though. (It’s more like one to five, though it actually varies depending on stage of the animal’s life.)
The race horse Seabiscuit was the biggest newsmaker in America in 1938. This myth did not have me snowed, however. It’s the result of the kind of sloppy reporting that makes me angry; there’s no need for people who no better to try to pass this off as fact. The claim set off all sorts of BS buzzers in my head, and I never believed it for a second. Snopes is there to prove me right in this case.
On average, men think about sex every seven seconds. Not even close. “54% of men think about sex every day or several times a day” — and the rest think of it less often. I’ve heard this “fact” bandied about many times over the years, and though it sounded wrong, it seemed plausible enough (I’m in the 54%, several times) that I never tried to argue with it.
Snopes has scores (hundreds?) of myths to explore, most of them false. It’s worth a look if you’ve time to spare. Or if you’re gullible.