Talk:Urban legend

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Catalogue[edit]

I personally would like to see a catalogue of classic urban legends stored somewhere in the 'pedia. I know there are any number of excellent sites out there (urbanlegends.com, snopes.com, etc) but frankly I'm still getting ridiculous emails about how "Mohammed Atta blew up a bus in 1986" and "Dunking Donuts employees burned the US Flag to celebrate Sept 11". We can't have too many page that dismiss this kind of insulting and often hurtful rubbish.

Before I proceed, I'm keen to get some other input. - User:MMGB

I'm not sure that cataloguing the ULs here in WP is going to help. After all, Snopes is out there, yet even my super-intelligent father sends me some of this garbage from time to time. If people don't check Snopes, they won't likely check WP either ... or at least, not a list of ULs. I think our only hope in this respect is to include a link to the relevant ULs under the relevant articles.Lawikitejana 00:02, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I certainly have no objection to coverage of specific legends here. Titling may be difficult. A few seem simple: "Blue star LSD", "Kidney theft". Legends about subjects with their own articles can be covered there--"Baghdad Betty" will certainly mention the "Bart Simpson" report. But others will have to have long, specific titles like "Urban legend of ..." Perhaps they might be grouped into large articles with collections of such legends? -- Lee Daniel Crocker

How about "Kidney Theft (urban legend)", "JK Rowlings is a Satanist (urban legend)" etc? The Urban Legend page could then contain x-refs. User:MMGB

I have misgivings about adding lists of specific urban legends because any such list is bound to be a small subset of the excellent lists already available on the Web. A few examples to show the range of the hoaxes (I've added a wiki to Cow tipping) would, I think, suffice. What do others think? David 18:38 Oct 4, 2002 (UTC)


The Vmyths site is not really about "online urban legends". It's mostly about debunking (read: taking the piss out of) the antivirus industry. It does carry some stories of fictional or mythical viruses, but that is not its major focus. --FOo


What is the etymology of the term "urban legend"? These type of stories existed before we had modern megalopolises. --zandperl 02:47, 5 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I would suggest that it refers to the fact that they are modern in nature and/or spread quickly around urban areas by word of mouth - naturally, this was before The Internet was popular, but the name stuck. Guinness 23:00, September 5, 2005 (UTC)

On the etymology: At a guess (and I'm no expert) the term "urban legend" is used to describe a specific branch of folklore which grew up when people started to congregate in cities and towns. Just as the spread of biological viruses is made easier by large populations living in close proximity surely the spread of urban legends is helped by the same factors. Urban legends seem to mutate and spread much faster than more traditional folklore used to when society was mainly rural.

On listing urban legends: This is probably not the place for such an endeavour but if it were to be done surely they could be collected under their own category. My understanding of the categorization system is limited but an article's category and title give it a unique I.D. don't they? --Mandrill 22:16, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Sayville[edit]

I removed:

One large source of urban legends is Sayville, Long Island. Urban legends originating from this village include the crazed fisherman legend.

I could find no reference to the "crazed fisherman legend" on snopes.com, or on the web, and I question why this is even here. The statement seems presumptuous.

dino 17:48, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Myth-busters[edit]

The TV show was already in the article; I removed a second reference. - DavidWBrooks 17:56, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC) ------
Can that cleanup tag be removed from the page? King Dedede 21:03, 13 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Coincidences and urban legends[edit]

To what extent do coincidences and Urban legends coincide - or the former help to "generate" the latter (and probably also conspiracy theories? (Murphy's Law and related phenomena have a lot to answer for.) Jackiespeel 21:20, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Culture references[edit]

Has anybody considered creating a section about urban legends in referenced in movies, television, and music? There's a good amount of that stuff out there. ONEder Boy15:20, August 7, 2005

SNOPES.COM[edit]

I refer to http://www.snopes.com/info/glossary.asp and this authority's own definitions:

Urban legends are a specific class of legend, differentiated from "ordinary" legends by their being provided and believed as accounts of actual incidents that befell or were witnessed by someone the teller almost knows (e.g., his sister's hairdresser's mechanic). These tales are told as true, local, and recent occurrences, and often contain names of places or entities located within the teller's neighborhood or surrounding region.
Urban legends are narratives which put our fears and concerns into the form of stories or are tales which we use to confirm the rightness of our world view. As cautionary tales they warn us against engaging in risky behaviors by pointing out what has supposedly happened to others who did what we might be tempted to try. Other legends confirm our belief that it's a big, bad world out there, one awash with crazed killers, lurking terrorists, unscrupulous companies out to make a buck at any cost, and a government that doesn't give a damn.
Folks commonly equate 'urban legend' with 'false' (i.e., "Oh, that's an urban legend!"). Though the vast majority of such tales are pure invention, a handful do turn out to be based on real incidents, and whether or not something actually happened has no bearing on its status as an urban legend. What lifts true tales of this type out of the world of news and into the genre of contemporary lore is the blurring of details and multiplicity of claims that the events happened locally, alterations which take place as the stories are passed through countless hands. Though there might indeed have been an original actual event, it clearly did not happen to as many people or in as many places as the various recountings of it would have us believe.

I have had a dispute with a user in cat over an urban legend and claim that the Snopes crowd's own definition bolsters my assertion that an urban legend is by definition false. I have bolded the relevant passsage and changed the definition to include the word 'based' upon truths. Iago Dali 19:03, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

And I have reverted your change as completely incorrect. Snopes and other sources explicitly say straight out that urban legends are not automatically false, ditto for legends in general. A misreading of an ambiguous passage does not overrule what is stated outright (that urban legends can be true) by all respected sources. The Snopes pages specifically label each ul they list as true, false or undetermined... if they were all false this would not be necessary. If Iago Dali wants to dispute this he should find an actual source that supports him instead of distorting a long passage and ignoring the points that prove him wrong. DreamGuy 20:30, September 2, 2005 (UTC)
Urban Legends absolutely can be true. There's a popular misconception that an urban legend is defined by its veracity, but in folkloric terms an urban legend is much more defined by the mode in which a story is 'performed'. Hallmarks of an urban legend are that it is performed (insert "told", "shared", etc) in an informal setting, is widely distributed, is considered true by a subset of its audience, and is subject to change and modification. In essence, urban legends are a subset of a much larger folk tradition. A "true" urban legend is one where the base story or tale can be verified as actually having taken place. An example is the tale of the "Unsolvable Math Problem". This tale is told in the form of an urban legend, in that it is often recounted as having happened to "a friend of a friend" (one of, if not THE classic format of urban legends), or at the college or university where the performer attended, etc. It meets the criteria of an urban legend, in that it is usually told in an informal setting, has been widely distributed, is considered "true" in the form in which it has been told by a subset of its audience, and has been subjected to numerous changes in the details of where and when it happened, and who was involved. It was inspired by the story of George Dantzig, who in 1939 solved two previously unsolved problems in ststistics, in much the same way as the urban legend usually recounts (The Unsolvable Math Problem). By the way, just to introduce myself to others interested in this topic. Up until a couple of years ago I ran a web site called "The Urban Legends Research Centre" (which had the url of www.ulrc.com.au - no point visiting the url, it's now been snaffled by a spam site). While it would surprise me if anyone here knew of or remembers the site, it was a reasonably popular destination for urban legends information. --Planetthoughtful 19:53, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Advice[edit]

I removed a section of advice written in second person - "you should do so-and-so" - that doesn't belong in an encyclopedia - DavidWBrooks 01:32, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

I have re-added the 'impact' component, but left the advice out. As for the advice, I appreciate it's not entirely appropriate for an enclyclopedia, but at the end of the day, I think it's important to educate the lesser informed of 'procedures' and not just 'facts'. I'm of the opinion that we should find a reasonable, if less blatent, way of working this in. Guinness 23:24, September 6, 2005 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

I posted this on my talk page in seeking how to get resolution to the important point above, which favors logical and semiotic correctness:

Dispute (cross posted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Lord_Voldemort)
I basically have two disputes of a differing nature. The 1st wd be on the novel talk page. I just think that the links to novels are ungodly long and have suggested a number of options, mainly due to the fact that some of the cited links are not to novels, novel precursors, some were written in verse- including a verse novel, and there is, to me, some manifest biases for certain ethnic groups. Aside from that there are over 101 links and growing. How can I try to get a quorum to simply make this better, more concise, etc?
Looking around on Wiki I find some abominable entries- either in terms of redundant phrasing, grammar, punctuation, but even more in some flat out wrong factual areas, such as...
This is dispute #2. I came across it in the cat entry 1st- the redundancy of stating that an urban legend was untrue.
I then saw that the urban legend entry stated there could be true urban legends so went to the snopes.com website and pasted in its contradictory definition- which logically says that UL's, like any legend, cannot be true, by definition. It's ill worded but you can sort it out. In short, if a hallmark of a UL is that it has had information altered or distorted it is by definition not true.
Logic dictates that one impure element corrupts the whole. A sea of pure water, fouled by a drop of blood is no longer pure. The same it is with truth. It can be partly true, based on a truth, etc., but it requires that qualifier- despite the idiocy of the Snopes definition.
For example, if alligators were found in NYC sewers they wd no longer be a UL, but a fact. Just as gorillas were once legendary, but are now fact. The chronological qualifier of the past tense 'were', would be required; as in 'Alligators in NYC sewers were an urban legend until they were in fact discovered in 2008', or the like.
Similarly, if I state 'George Washington was a tall white man who was the first President of the United States,' I am stating an unequivocal truth. However, if I change a single element, if I substitute is for was, short for tall, black for white, woman for man, second for first, Governor for President, France for US, the whole sentence is untrue, despite truths within it. It may be partly or mostly true, but it is in the whole false. Similarly, any legend- urban or not- is untrue. If proved true it ceases to be legend, and becomes fact- like the gorilla.
This is basic logic, and semiotics. Another user states that it is a vital point that ULs can be untrue. I agree it's vital, but the lad has lost his head- and I don't care what some website or book says. No cited source is above logic and truth, and as a claimed encyclopedia Wiki should be held to higher standards than any old website.
I would like to lay out my case before whatever powers that be on these matters. I realize this may not be as 'sexy' a battle or issue as President Bush, abortion, the war in Iraq, or the death penalty, but if this org cannot even stabd up for impeccable logic and truth, thaen what's the point? I've other points to make, but this is my basic case, and I think both are worthy. The first for simple functionality, and the second for logic. Forgive me if I seem picayune, but these seem to me:: to be the essence of what a source of knowledge shd be about. Please advise me. Cheers, Iago Dali 01:54, 7 September 2005 (UTC)
First let me say that we try and be as credible as we can. Sometimes problems can occur with this type of project, because anyone can edit it. I looked at your cat problem, and the cat article itself has been changed. I would tend to agree that a "legend" would, by definition, be false. However, in today's world, the English language is being hijacked and some words no longer have their proper meaning. I would say there are some things that can be both factual and legendary. Great battles, things of that sort. Semantics is a funny thing. People just don't have enough words, so they use slightly improper ones. The user you had been arguing with, DreamGuy has been in many disagreements, especially dealing with myths and the like. Some people are just made to fight, don't let them bother you. As for your first dispute above, if there really is a list of 100 links, it should probably be shortened. I'm heading over to check that out right now. I don't think there is any need for a Request for Arbitration, but in the future you may list an issue at Request for Comment. Keep your chin up. Have a nice day. --Lord Voldemort (Dark Mark) 14:55, 7 September 2005 (UTC)

In short, while I agree w Lord's point re: legends, in the sense one might say Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz legend and true, that is not the context with which the discussion about truth and legendry I was having. In short, as I state in the above sections detailing the logic of the Geo. Washington statement, and the gorilla/alligators example, the meaning of legend there is definitely as an untruth. A thing can indeed have be true and legendary, but those legendary aspects are, by definition, untrue. If proven true they cease to be legendary in all but a colloquial sense. Colloquialism is not acceptable for an encyclopedia entry.

Comments are welcome. Iago Dali 23:15, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

Forgive me for being dim, but I don't quite understand what your complaint with the article is. Can you express it in one sentence, and/or point to something in the article that you think should be changed? - DavidWBrooks 23:53, 8 September 2005 (UTC)
If you look in the definition there are claims that ULs can be true. One editor claimed, 'Everyone knows this.' This is patently false- as the contradictory definition above states- once de de-convolute it. My point is that once a legend, any legend, like a gorilla, is proved true, it is no longer legend. If gators are found in NYC sewers it is a fact, not an UL. This is logic, and no bad definition, nor claimed authority, can supersede the logical consequence of such. Iago Dali 12:39, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

Even in this entry it first states: Urban legends are not necessarily untrue, but they are often false, distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized. Then, in Propagation and belief: People apparently take urban legends to be true instead of recognizing them as tall tales or unsubstantiated rumors because of the way the story is passed on. An encyclopedia shd do better than this. Even this definition is muddled. Iago Dali 12:43, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

In short, the piece shd state that ULs, like all legends, pass into legendry when they distort or alter a truth, and become untrue, even if, like my Washington sentence (above), only one minor element is untrue. All ULs are untrue, by definition. And if they are found to be based in truth they are no longer ULs, but truthful anecdotes. Iago Dali 12:46, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Well, I must disagree: U-L's certainly can be true in the sense that they are based on actual events, although invariably they are exaggerated and/or distorted. This has been a many-years-long discussion on alt.folklore.urban, the Usenet home of all things urban-legend-ish, and it's quite well agreed upon. Or consider this from scambusters.org: "Urban legends are stories that are either funny and/or contain horrifying content that may or may not be true. They spread quickly, and often have many different variants. ... Most urban legends are false -- but some are true."
I think you are arguing that anything which makes it to U-L status has been so exaggerated/distorted that it is misleading to call it "true" any more.
My feeling, however, is that it would be misleading to say that U-L's are never true, because most people would read that to mean, for example, that no alligator has ever lived in New York sewers, which may not actually be the case.
You are quite right, however, about the way the article muddles the word "true" - sometimes using it to mean "literally accurate" and sometimes using it to mean something like "based on real events". That should be cleaned up. But we don't want to say, I think, that U-L's are always false. - DavidWBrooks 13:17, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with all you say, save your conclusion. Again look at the Washington sentence. It is based upon truth, and mostly true- but those very distortions and exaggerations make them definitively untrue. You need qualifiers. Perhaps most UL junkies think or agree that there are true ULs, but this is not logically nor semiotically true. Period. No cabal of experts can declare their own rules of logic pinched off from the universe. Logic overrules any cited source that does not follow it. I must say it's disturbing that something so manifest is even up for discussion. Postmodern as that may be the very fact that we agree on the fact that we and our conversation is real means that there is an objective source in the cosmos. That objectifies everything in relation to it. Similarly, truth is an all or nothing proposition, as in my Washington sentence. Just the change from one word to another renders the sentence false. If that sentence, w one alterartion, were given as a true or false statement on an 8 year old's test and the child answered true, he would be graded wrong for the answer, even though 9/10s of the claims were true. Based upon, or exaggerated are qualifiers. But, naked, truth is an all or none thing. I am not denying the reality that ULs can be based upon truths, but they are not truths in and of themselves. I'm afraid Wiki will always be something of a joke to true encyclopedists if we cannot even be in accord on simple definitions as this. How can one expect reasonable discussions of truth in science, abortion, or the President, when the manifest truths or not of a trivial matter like this are distorted- i.e.- made untrue, to the point that even a child would scratch his head. Iago Dali 13:03, 10 September 2005 (UTC)

David, your alligator claim also fails your own test. A single alligator would not prove nor disprove the UL. The UL is alligators. This would merely prove that the UL could have been based upon a truth. You are supporting the exaggeration portion of the definition. The actual UL part wd be the distortion from a single gator to a colony of gators that has lived many years. As I said, gorillas were legends until they were proved true. Should we go back to calling them legends? No, they 'were' legends- not 'are'. truth, like purity, is one of those qualities where a totality, not a quorum is required. A thing can be both mostly true and wholly false. This is not illogical. Just as Ivory soap may be 99 44/100's pure soap, yet be wholly impure. Similarly, once a 'new' car is driven off its lot it is illegal to resell it in most states as 'new', even if it just has a mile on its odometer between the dealer and your home. Colloquially we might say it's new, just as the term 'newborn' might colloquially be used for a 4 month old baby, but it's logically incorrect- by virtue of its exaggeration or distortion. To me, it seems vital that the very basics of discourse, such as logic and semiotics, be followed, for an encyclopedia, because if not then there is no logical foundation upon which to proceed. If corrections like this are not made Wiki will likely always remain the province of hobbyists with axes to grind- political, religious, personal- such as DreamGuy with his mythic follies, rather than true seekers of knowledge. When mere rabble can supersede truth and logic we're all in trouble. Iago Dali 13:22, 10 September 2005 (UTC)

No, the problem here is that you are the hobbyist with an axe to grind who doesn't know what he's talking about who likes to pretend otherwise. I happen to be a professional mythologist, a member of the American Folklore Society, and a long time professional editor to boot. Your excessively verbose posts to the talk pages here do not hide the fact that you simply do not know what you are talking about. You are a completely out of your depth and try to pretend that you are in favor of truth and logic when it's clear that all you care about is backing up what you already said instead of trying to think logically or search for the truth.
Here are some cites on the topic, most of which you would have already been familiar with if you had read anything on the topic at all before spouting your mouth off:
  • A common mistake is the equation of 'urban legend' with 'false' (i.e., "Oh, that's an urban legend!"). Though the vast majority of such tales are pure invention, a tiny handful do turn out to be based on real incidents. http://www.snopes.com/info/ul-def.asp
  • Most urban legends are false -- but some are true. http://www.scambusters.org/legends.html
  • Despite finding its [The Unsolvable Math Problem] apparent origin, I continue to accept anonymous versions as legendary. Here's why. An oral story is a story, whatever its origin. As long as a story continues to circulate in different variations, partly by word of mouth, we may regard it as folklore. But probably 'The Unsolvable Math Problem' legend should no longer be discussed as strictly 'apocryphal,' since we now seem to have found its source, and the deviations from the original incident are easily recognized and are not excessive. Jan Harold Brunvand, Curses! Broiled Again! p. 282
  • Most ULs cannot be traced back to original true incidents, but some, particularly the more recent ones, can be. There are ULs which may, coincidentally, have a true manifestation, but a true manifestation does not deprive a UL of its legendary status. [...] As noted elsewhere in this list and by astute individuals on the net, an UL does not have to be false. http://www.faqs.org/faqs/folklore-faq/part2/
And I could go on and on, but the point is made. But of course even the original quote User:Iago Dali posted contradicted him, and every single page about the ULs on that site has a line for whether they are true or false, which obviously wouldn't be necessary if they were all false... But then proclaiming oneself the defender of truth and logic doesn't automatically mean someone bothers to use either one.
If you honestly want this encyclopedia to be a place for actual informed knowledge then you need to actually do some reading and take a small amount of time to be informed on a topic before changing text to fit what you believe instead of what professionals say.DreamGuy 18:40, September 10, 2005 (UTC)

And I happen to be a professional copy editor, dialectician, and logician, and none of your examples refutes the logic I demonstrated. Your 1st, 3rd and 4th quotes undermine your very argument- the fact that you don't recognize it shows you are out of your intellectual depths. I'm afraid you are the hobbyist, and your 2nd example is a statement that has no authority, since it does not deal with any specifics. With three of the four examples you cite you refute yourself. Indeed, as many of the politicized entries on Wiki show the rabble too often win, so your ignorance of logic and semiotics will likely triumph. And my original post made my very case that the cited sources are unreliable and contradictory- that was the point, which blew by you. And you've contradicted your own claims three more times! Now, read slowly, and carefully, and you'll see what the quotes you provide really state. And claiming to be an expert on myth does not mean one is above logic, as you've amply demonstrated, DreamGuy. Perhaps less sleep and more reality would serve you well. If you really want to claim to be an expert, and argue competently, you really should not make it so easy to prove the other side's points. It is this sort of lack of common sense that has ghettoized mythology and legendry- from UFO wackos and charlatans like Erich Von Daniken to Academic frauds like a Joseph Campbell. Hardly an illustrious track record. Ah, well, there's always the Bermuda Triangle- that's still untrue, and a legend! Iago Dali 20:49, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

Oh, and DG, it might be useful if you actually look at the logic displayed in the Washington sentence, and the other examples, before you stick hoof in mouth, again! Iago Dali 20:50, 11 September 2005 (UTC)

The world's leading authority on urban legends (JHB) explicitly contradicted you, along with the FAQ of the usenet newsgroup devoted to the topic and the world's leading website on the subject, and all you can do is toss out insults and claim that other people aren't reading it correctly? Sorry, that doesn't cut it. You should read the policies here on Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No personal attacks. DreamGuy 23:06, September 11, 2005 (UTC)
Given the tone of your edit summaries, your earlier remarks, and your edit history with others, it is a joke that you should accuse anyone else of personal attacks- as you've been warned about that very thing. You repeatedly make snide comments and personal attacks against a) anyone who disagrees with you and b) intensify them when, as here, you are demonstrably wrong, and do so, unfailingly, and biliously, as a first resort. This is the hallmark of an insecure child, and a poseur. Only in a venture as this (Wiki) could someone with these personal traits and intellectual flaws (such as roundly contradicting yourself in your quotes) come within a mile of dealing with the dissemination of facts. No amount of testosteronic venting can change that. So, now that I've affirmed you do have a good store of the T factor, I ask you--yet again--to exercise your intellect, not your id--even though it is not my job nor responsibility to educate you, nor improve your logical skills nor reading comprehension.
Let me put this very simply- in bright bold terms you can fathom. You have two primary colors--blue and yellow (i.e.- truth and falsity). If you mix the two together you get green--a third color. Green is not a form of blue, though, but a wholly new color. Just as in your first example, when it uses 'based on', all that means is just that--based on. Green is based on blue (and yellow), but it is not blue. Tv and film docudramas use that term, because it covers their butts from being held liable for libel. As in example three, green is not blue, because the yellow 'deviated' it from the other color. I realize this may be difficult to one whose primary concern is fairy tales and lake monsters, so you can thank me for simplifying it later.
And no so-called 'expert', who states green is really a form of blue (or any similar logical convolution) can be taken seriously. I can embarrass you further, though, since you have shown not only an inability to grasp logic, but a distaste for it, and even dealing with it. The lack of respect for words, their meanings, and the logical outcomes of their applications may be chic, PoMo, and all the rage in your field, but it's passe in mine.
In closing, my advice is less bile, more study, a greater appreciation for the truth, and you'll have less occasion to utter "D'oh!" in the future. Iago Dali 12:36, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
PS: Thanks to all those who contacted me sotto voce to warn me of DreamGuy's tactics and rages. I agree that it is a shame, both personally, and to the integrity of the Wiki project, and that he needs a new handle- perhaps "Not so", as in "not true" and "Not So Beautiful Dreamer". Iago Dali 12:36, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
PSS: Since DG is so swift to link elsewhere, herein: logic and semiotics. It's gotta be as fun as the Brothers Grimm, eh? Iago Dali 12:39, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

I don't want to support the insult-laden debate happening above, which is stupid and counter-productive, but I'm afraid that on the point in question - whether some tales considered urban legends should be counted as "true" because they are largely or entirely based on real events - you are (IMHO) still wrong, Iago Dali. Reality is not a logics class, and humanity doesn't operate under Boolean algebra. And the fact that a jerk is making an argument doesn't mean the argument is wrong.

It's true that the Texas legislature once passed a referendum praising the Boston strangler, it's true that newspapers have fallen for "Heywood Jablome", it's true that Abercrombie & Fitch sold a line of T-shirts based on Asian caricatures. Most urban legends are completely false or so mangled that they can be considered false, but not all of them. - DavidWBrooks 13:48, 14 September 2005 (UTC)

Hrm, how about saying "alleged jerk" instead of "jerk". Most the people claiming I'm a problem user are individuals like User:Iago Dali here who hope to prevail through ad hominem attacks because they know they have already lost otherwise. He can claim that I have a long history of bad behavior here, but it's actually more like a long history of people making false accusations to try to get revenge for having not had their way on an article because they were proven wrong. Much like on this article. DreamGuy 18:32, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Let's see - your very first comment in this area included "You are a completely out of your depth" and "if you had read anything on the topic at all before spouting your mouth off" and "Perhaps less sleep and more reality would serve you well" ... nah, I don't think "alleged" is necessary. - DavidWBrooks 20:05, 14 September 2005 (UTC)
Actually, one of those three comments was actually by User:Iago Dali and not by me. As far as my "first comment in this area" goes, the editor in question had made several highly uncivil attacks and misrepresentations already on Talk:Cat (where he saw the original mention of an urban legend specifying that it was not true and went ballistic) as well as in his multiple and deceptive posts above. I 100% stand behind the comment that Iago is "completely out of his depth," as he has demonstrated no understanding of the terms ("legend" in general or specifically "urban legend") in question, and I don't understand how that phrase could be considered objectionable, especially when he has admitted to no background on the topic. The other comment was a bit harsh, but I feel not at all up to the level of abuse he had already aimed at me.
Frankly, I think labeling someone a jerk in the first place is more of a violation of the rules of civility than the things you are complaining about. DreamGuy 07:19, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
It's the counter-productive nature of childish name-calling that gets me. Iago will never, ever change his mind now, because he won't want to give satisfaction to somebody who acted so childish - so you've done the exact opposite of what you wanted. Grow up, and you'll get much more done. - DavidWBrooks 10:19, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
This looks like a "do as I say, not as I do" thing... If you hate childish name-calling, then why did you call me a jerk and tell me to grow up?
And, to be honest, from his first posts which were full of disdain for all of Wikipedia it was clear that Iago would never ever change his mind. That was never even a consideration. You don't convince people like that of anything, because if they were willing to be convinced they would actually bother to check the references provided and read them before declaring themselves to be correct. All you can do is undo any misinformed changes they make and hope they give up when they see that they aren't fooling anyone with their egotistical but intellectually empty ranting and raving. He's wrong, he never bothered to research whether he was right or wrong before he declared himself right, he was proven wrong a long time ago, and his responses have been exceedingly abusive and nonsensical. If you want to complain about something, complain about that, or maybe complain about your own hypocrisy for doing all the self-same things you accuse me of but apparently thinking you are justified in doing them for some unknown reason. DreamGuy 01:25, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

Continuance[edit]

This is the single biggest flaw in Wiki- that no matter how many times a point is made, it is not heard. A) I have consistently put forth logical arguments and smashed the definitions from so-called experts. B) This is not algebraic, nor is it reality, David. It is an encycopedia entry, where there is the tacit assumption that we agree there are objective realities outside the 'pedia. And stating 'Most urban legends are completely false or so mangled that they can be considered false, but not all of them' is simply not true, when even the definitions by the so-called experts delineate the true and legendary with terms as "based upon" or 'distorted'. This is not a difficult concept. Whether with the primary colors, Geo. Washington, the Gorilla mythos, the purity comparison, etc., these are all cogent and logically applicable arguments. I don't give a whit what DreamGuy thinks, pro or con, for it does not change an iota of the truth of the matter, even though, as I concede, such bad entries and claims as this will exist for the DreamGuys outnumber folks like me 999 to 1. And it is true, that I only responded in kind to his snide put-downs. I, however, used humor, something DG seems incapable of displaying, and was far better at it, as well dialectics. This lack is a hallmark of the zealot. That and defying fact in the face of its proof- logical or otherwise. As he might say, bad and contradictory sources simply aren't good enough! Or, they shouldn't be- in something that claims to be an encyclopedia. I never went "ballistic"- here nor any other entry's talk page. That DG would claim so shows how skewed his version of reality is, which may explain the favor for the unreal. To close, Dave: "Iago will never, ever change his mind now, because he won't want to give satisfaction to somebody who acted so childish" simply has nothing to do with it. This does: I ask you--yet again--to exercise your intellect:

Here again, w/o deception:

1) You have two primary colors--blue and yellow (i.e.- truth and falsity). If you mix the two together you get green--a third color. Green is not a form of blue, though, but a wholly new color. Just as in your first example, when it uses 'based on', all that means is just that--based on. Green is based on blue (and yellow), but it is not blue.
2) Just as Ivory soap may be 99 44/100's pure soap, yet be wholly impure. Similarly, once a 'new' car is driven off its lot it is illegal to resell it in most states as 'new', even if it just has a mile on its odometer between the dealer and your home. Colloquially we might say it's new, just as the term 'newborn' might colloquially be used for a 4 month old baby, but it's logically incorrect- by virtue of its exaggeration or distortion.
3) If I state 'George Washington was a tall white man who was the first President of the United States,' I am stating an unequivocal truth. However, if I change a single element, if I substitute is for was, short for tall, black for white, woman for man, second for first, Governor for President, France for US, the whole sentence is untrue, despite truths within it. It may be partly or mostly true, but it is in the whole false.
Important point that most plainly sums up the case I make: If that sentence, w one alteration, were given as a true or false statement on an 8 year old's test and the child answered true, he would be graded wrong for the answer, even though 9/10s of the claims were true.
4) If alligators were found in NYC sewers they wd no longer be a UL, but a fact. Just as gorillas were once legendary, but are now fact. The chronological qualifier of the past tense 'were', would be required; as in 'Alligators in NYC sewers were an urban legend until they were in fact discovered in 2008', or the like. In short, ULs, like all legends, pass into legendry when they distort or alter a truth, and become untrue, even if, like my Washington sentence (above), only one minor element is untrue. All ULs are untrue, by definition. And if they are found to be based in truth they are no longer ULs, but truthful anecdotes.
5) Postmodern as that may be the very fact that we agree on the fact that we and our conversation is real means that there is an objective source in the cosmos. That objectifies everything in relation to it.

Now, I could go on, and on....as DG claims he could, with his contradictory definitions. Instead, I challenge either of you, or any other Wiki pals to tackle these five statements. If you can run the table I will gladly admit error, agree with you that false things, like urban legends, can be true, as well. This requires no ad hominem, merely thinking caps. Again, I realize that I must have displayed some hostility in challenging the lowest common denominator hierarchy and you may feel free to burn me in effigy for that offense. But....and here's the kicker, it still won't make green blue. Iago Dali 15:49, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

Very quickly, this isn't a logic class, its an article about reality. The practitioners and followers and users of urban legends accept certain events that are true as being urban legends, so that's what the article must reflect, regardless of theoretical arguments. - DavidWBrooks 18:48, 15 September 2005 (UTC)
Wow! This is almost as heated as the President's entries! Here's my two cents, as someone who has contributed to articles published in journals and newspapers. Iago reminds me of a great editor I had years ago--he was a curmudgeon and stickler for details: grammar, spelling, but most of all fact-checking. It drove me crazy, but it made me better at research and eventually I could do pieces in far less time. The basic issue seems to me to be the quality of the sources. I skimmed briefly at some of those quoted and clearly they are contradictory, muddy, and often self-serving. Hence, my old editor would have told me to find other sources that were not. It seems that the crux of the matter is that, by nature, ULs are based upon things that sometimes may be true. Yet, that truth is distorted in some means.
I don't know the fields that any you are in, save the generalities, but the definition in this entry is clearly self-contradictory, and from a journalist's and editor's POV it simply is worthless. I have known a number of people who have edited in Wiki and almost all of them from the field of journalism, and few last long, since basic tenets as discounting bad sources, and trying to infer the progression of events is key in telling a story--at least non-fiction. I realize legends are fiction, but still they are reported as facts; thus the quandary. Nonetheless I feel this is a major flaw in the project.
Iago, I agree with the first four of your posits but I think Heisenberg might take issue with your fifth. Still, I think your case is the stronger, by a wide margin. However, you won't win. Just as blogs have helped lower the standards in most "venerable" outlets for journalism, so too does democracy do for academic pursuits.
David, I must disagree with your last point. Having written both of legends and myths you are correct in that people both take the false as true and the true as false, but that is colloquial misunderstanding. People often use double negatives, but we know they mean just a single negative. Even if we didn't it still has little to do with the reality that people believing in false things are not believing in truth. This is not theoretical, in the least, but at the very heart of meaning and consequence, which is essential to journalism or any good communication. An encyclopedia should be held to higher standards, as should journalists. That we don't do so is to our shame. My old boss is smiling at me ;-) from above as I type.
To end--logically Iago is correct, and furthermore none of the quoted sources would satisfy any newspaper editor worth their salt. So, I think a revision of the definition is in order. I realize that's a dime's worth, but as I shall debarking for the Bush wars, consider the extra eight cents a down payment on further argument. Ciao. Red Darwin 22:06, 15 September 2005 (UTC)

This is all pointless... people not in the field of folklore are trying to claim that the definiitions used by the people in that field are incorrect. It's like foklorists trying to tell physicists that they don't know what red shift means.

To respond to Iago's arguments: 1) This isn;t about primary colors and mixing. Even a story proven to be 100% true in every detail can be an urban legend, as already mentioned by the sources cited above (including the recognized world's most foremost expert on urban legends). You are making a false analogy because your definition is legend = false. That's not what the word means. It isn't a question of partly false or based upon true. Truth isn't important for legends or folklore, it's how the story is passed along. 2) Same problem. Your definition is wrong. Arguments about 99.999% pure or whatever don't matter. 3) Same problem. Your entire underlying assumptions are incorrect, so your arguments based off that assumption is incorrect. 4) Same problem, so your claim that If alligators were found in NYC sewers they wd no longer be a UL, but a fact is absolutely false, as has already been pointed out to you by a wide variety of references to experts on the topic. Again, you have created a false diametric opposition between legend and fact that is not part of the actual definitions. 5) Is pseudo-intellectual mumbo jumbo that has nothing to do with the debate.

The experts on urban legends say they can be true. Some journalist or wannabe mathematician does not change that. I have already quoted sources proving the definitions. All Iago does is ignore them because he knows he can't contradict them. Jan Harold Brunvand says urban legends are not automatically false (as cited above), and even gives a specific example of a story that was true and still says it is a legend because it is transmitted orally for the same purpose. There is nothing to debate here, it's just one person ignoring the what the experts say to try to force his own completely made up definition on the article as if it were more important than what the recognized professional sources have to say in the matter. DreamGuy 01:11, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with DG that it is pointless since he has been thoroughly discredited yet refuses to admit it. It is like arguing with a child in soiled diaper who wonders why those about him hold their noses. David- your points are well made, but you are simply wrong. I agree with Red that we are dealing with the heart of meaning and consequence--although I disagree with his Heisenberg reference's applicability. As for DG- even though it's agreed that his sources are self-contradictory, he agrees with them still, affirms self-contradiction as his mode of thought. And, yes Red, I agree I won't win--I acknowledged that above. I too have known scientists and researchers in Wiki who have pulled their heads bald over maddening folk like DG who claim- via his page- to dislike "the gradeschool kids, raving nutjobs and followers of fringe belief systems can't just rewrite everything at a moment's notice and then paint you as the bad guy for trying to enforce even just a minimal level of standards", then denude themselves as just that with their own actions. But, should we all just give up in the face of ignorance?
DG goes 0 for 5, then states "experts on urban legends say they can be true", even though the statements are clearly in error and contradict. Yet, I suspect that his sciolism would probably rail at Creationists or Intelligent Designers who cited the "expert" testimony of their own dogmatists. Then he'd likely switch over to my (or our) side. This is because his arguments are based upon personal emotions, not reason. That's simply not good enough for an encyclopedia, or any other trafficker in claimed truth. He even conflates legend with other related fields--folklore and myth. Folklore can be true--it is folklore to speak of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address or Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, or the upset in Super Bowl III, or much of Muhammad Ali's career--or that of Picasso. These are facts, but if one starts adding false elements--such as Muhammad Ali's striking a bargain with Satan to defeat Sonny Liston for the title, then we are dealing with legend.
I do agree with DG on this--there is nothing to debate. Logic, semiotics, journalism, and scholarship all clearly support a rewrite of this definition. The disagreement is based upon the dogmatism and ignorance of those who care not for reason and truth, and no claims of expertise in legendry can change that reality. On that I don't believe anyone from above is smiling. Iago Dali 13:26, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

An added thought on the claims of "expertise". I am not disputing that any experts have more knowledge of them than I or a layman would--in terms of the basic claims. But, it is the conveyance that is at issue. All fields communicate via language, and on that I claim expertise second to none. While I would not argue with a physicist on black holes or cosmology I can argue with the quality of argument or the conflation of science and religion when scientists start bandying about terms like "God", that have no place in science. Or when they start adding things willy nilly w/o proof, and veer into myth, rather than science--think dark matter, dark energy, multiple universes (talk about contadiction!). In that sense, a language expert is a generalist--a cop. He may not know how to bake or sew, but can read you the riot act when your buns fall flat or a stitch is dropped. Iago Dali 13:37, 16 September 2005 (UTC)

I have already given sources PROVING that the experts say urban legends can be true... 100% not true, not even just "based upon truth" or "sort of true." Thus all of your claims to the contrary based upon your idea of logic and false definitions are pointless. You only response here has been to ignore the experts and continue to just claim with no evidence that logic, journalism, yada yada yada support you. None of them do. You came up with a false definition of legend and refuse to educate yourself on the topic. Until you can come up with some real reason to ignore what all the experts say and go with what you say instead there's no reason for you to even bother posting here with your insults and claims of intellectual superiority, as it's all pointless. DreamGuy 23:28, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

And all your sources have been proven to be baseless and self-contradictory. You have continued to ignore logic in an insane need to be right, in a world of your own making. You refuse to educate yourself on the meaning of words, and resort to ad hominem. You are pointless--your posts and existence. But, keep doing so and I'll gladly keep embarrassing you, Unlike the many others you've slandered and bullied, I'll keep on annihilating you, for both the sake of Wiki, and rationalism. Go back to your world of legendry, ID, and flying saucers, and leave the real world for grownups. Iago Dali 20:57, 19 September 2005 (UTC)

Facts and legend[edit]

This brouhaha reminds me of some of the things I witnessed years ago while researching hairy bipeds for a story (really a side story to a longer piece) I was doing on the Canadian Rockies, some years back. I met up with a "legendary" researcher in the field--who recently died prematurely, and was called a debunker by his enemies, although I failed to see how such a term could be construed as a bad thing. Even though he was scorned for not being a real "scientist" for his interest in the paranormal he always insisted on clearly evincing the line between fact and fiction. He told me how often he would investigate firsthand claims, only to find out they were rumors, or fifthhand, because the locals did not know what firsthand meant. He also told me how he'd often talk with a dozen people about an "incident", and how he had to dismiss things because of the contradictory nature of the claims. I know he was often frustrated by experts as those DreamGuy cites, for he felt their sloppy approach to both fact-gathering and dissemination just further ghettoized his field, as much as the outright fraudsters did. So, any claims that "everyone" knows this or that about ULs, or any other field, is just wishful thinking, and an excuse to ignore contradictory evidence.

I think back to Sen. Moynihan's old axiom, during Watergate: "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." I paraphrase, of course, but I think it is relevant. Also relevant is the need to not be emotionally involved in these matters. Yes, I scratch my head as to why DreamGuy feels the way he does when I think he's been demonstrated as wrong. But, personal attacks, or slams against whole professions--as mine, or even attacking putative allies--such as David Brooks, only undermines the argument, and its proponent.
I have had whole stories, and major parts of stories, killed by editors for far less contradictory sources than have been proffered here. Granted, there may be no threats of lawsuits in this matter, but that does not obviate the very weakness of relying on self-contradictory experts. To bring the issue into a more common arena, I ask any lawyers in Wiki to regard some of the above expert statements--I know it's a ways back, and tell us would you not be absolutely slavering to get such an "expert" on the stand? I've covered trials in the past (only a few) but would think the task of demonstrating their unreliability very easy. This is why I agree with the above example--I think it was Iago's--when he compared these statements to being graded on an elementary school test. I believe it was the Washington reference being true or not if one thing was changed. Surely, no one disagrees with that assessment. If so, how can one deny that the "experts' cited are useless in arguing the case?
I realize I'm spitting in the breeze here, but I felt I needed to clarify and defend my profession from a backhanded swipe. I realize their may be journalists and lawyers who disagree with my assessment of their likely professional views, but I think they would be in the minority. Similarly, DreamGuy's claims about what all mythologists would think have to be seen in a similar light.

Language undergirds every human communication, and imprecise language can be the difference between a poem failing and succeeding, or an article being libelous or not. There is also a logical application of language that no one is entitled to disregard and still claim to be in search of some truth. If there can be no accord on these ground rules--logic, semiotics, fact and fiction, consistency, etc., then all other arguments are background static. What is "pro-choice" then, if not "pro-abortion", what is the difference between "capital punishment" and the "death penalty"? Forget the ethical or legal implications, but look at the words. If these things cause quandaries, is it any wonder that such a statement, as quoted above, does: "Though the vast majority of such tales are pure invention, a tiny handful do turn out to be based on real incidents." The ophidian contradictions abound. This is an Escherian nightmare, yet any editor (see my above colloquial exception)--or lawyer--would pounce upon the "based on", and with good reason, as that--as a single negative might--invalidates the statement. No amount of subsequent or prior firm declaiming by experts or their acolytes can undo the devastation wrought by such an admission--albeit likely Freudian--allows.

Again, these are my thoughts. I just wish there would be less impugning of motives. I am firm in my beliefs, and know that several fields back them up, including people from the very fields this entry is about. The use of ad hominem, or the like, against individuals or groups, is de facto an admission that logical and impersonal dialectic has failed. That's not just bad for this entry, or Wiki, but bad for human communication. This applies to legends, conversations, and the written word. And facts are not just material things, but the logical implications of abstract things--like words. In the above cited sentence the only inference to be drawn is that ULs can have truthful elements, which may vary in weight, but all are untrue in the whole. You simply cannot wish the "based on" away.
Yet, I am away, and off to elsewhere in the cybersphere. Perhaps there's a blog ranting on red shift. Ciao. Red Darwin 13:56, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you. I have argued over several issues in Wiki, but there are too many folk who have axes to grind that have nothing to do with facts. You are aware of the brouhaha over the definition and entry for novels, where some folk have hijacked the term for decidely non-novel works. Whether it's out of ignorance or a political motive I think it's going to doom the whole project. I think Wikimedia will one day have to get experts to overhaul at least 30-40% of entries, or most of the real topics- science, art, history, philosophy, etc. The celebrity bios no one but their fans care of, but until professionals--editors, scientists, true experts--are given some clout, it'll be a crapshoot. Moynihan was right, but I'd add as a corollary, "Everyone has an opinion, but not all opinions are equal." I may not be able to argue with a Steven Hawking over the structure of black holes, or such minutia, but I can and will take issue with his phraseology or invocation of the Lord where no evidence exists. I also think that it's a shame that logical dialectic and proof is immediately branded as an attack, but c'est la vie. Iago Dali 21:48, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

You know, I hope one of you is the sockpuppet of the other, because I'd hate to think that there were actually two people out there who get so incredibly off the topic and self-involved patting themselves on the back over nothingness.

Take this quote:

I know he was often frustrated by experts as those DreamGuy cites

Hello, the experts I cite are the world-recognized experts on urban legends (Jan Harold Brunvand, Snopes and etc.). The "expert" this guy quotes is some alleged Bigfoot researcher. Who cares what your invivisble friend thinks, and who cares about your claims that I was proven wrong, the experts on urban legends say they can be true. Period. Full stop. End of story. You two (or one trying to lend further support to himself by posing as two) yammering on doesn't change that. You're wrong, the experts say you're wrong, anyone capable of using logic correctly can see you're wrong -- what is your point for posting here other than to try to declare yourselves smarter than all the people in the world with real credentials?

Get real. At this point, unless you can tell us why the experts on urban legends should be ignored in an article about that topic, it's over. And I might add it would be better for your mental health if you accepted reality instead of ranting and raving about your supposed intelligence. DreamGuy 23:40, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

You seriously are mentally ill, aren't you? You attack anyone who proves you wrong, and even a fellow who sided with you, until he got so sickened by your attitude he let you hang in your own bilious rants. Why don't you come out and admit it- you're a lonely teenager with nothing better to do than make a fool of yourself, and get off on ruining the intellectual authority of Wiki. It makes you feel "special", "powerful", "alive" to take on "authority". You are a graffitti artist of ignorance. If this were a blog, or a chatroom, and not what it is, the host of the site would have banned you as a "troll" long ago--note, the term has nothing to do with legendry. Your record of "expertise", and citations, are a charlatan's delight, and your manners are non-existent, even worse than your intellect. The only reason you persist is because, like a child, you have a dim memory of something warm and milk-bearing. One need not try hard to prove a superior intellect to yours, as many a fellow respectful Wikipedian has trounced you before, and I'm sure many will in the future, long after this exchange. You cannot tell an ally from an opposing stance, and your paranoid delusions have slipped over into full-blown raving. Since your "experts" have as little on the ball as you it proves nothing, as has been demonstrated again and again. The critical edge of your mind is as dull as a spoon. Your experts are wrong. Period. Full stop. Extend your arms for the straightjacket and lollipop. Expose big toe, and insert next to sucker. You are a sad little man (or woman--who knows?)--no doubt lonely and self-loathing in the echo chamber of your brain-shriveled cranium. Shall I go on, or do you want further immortal embarrassment? My advice, lift up the rock you slithered out from under, and say hello to the millipedes. Iago Dali 20:49, 19 September 2005 (UTC)

Why don't you actually read what you quote? Wikipedia:No personal attacks Iago Dali 21:00, 19 September 2005 (UTC)

Much of the extensive argument above seems to be off-point, to me. One user is arguing that 'Urban Legend' is an ontological position, the other that it's a phenomenological category, but neither seems to realize they're discussing apples and oranges. Which is right? Seems to me that 'Urban Legend' is a category of memes, so once something has been an Urban Legend, it always is, regardless whether the story itself winds up being true or false. US$0.02 by Eaglizard 20:01, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
I believe the problem arises largely from the fact that the term "urban legend" is somewhat amorphous. Even in academic circles (or perhaps especially in academic circles), no true, exact definition has ever been derived that suits every person with a professional interest in the subject. In general, however, I've encountered some consensus that urban legends are a subset of the general tradition of folklore, and that distinguishing characteristics are usually based on how the tale is distributed (you sometimes encounter the term "vectored", particularly in alt.folklore.urban), not necessarily on the falsity, or otherwise, of the tale itself. Consider, again, the tale of the unsolvable math problem. If you encountered this tale in the form of, "You want to hear something amazing? My brother went to college with this guy who came to his Stats class late one day, and..." versus "I heard this story about a guy, once, who came to class late one day..." Both, presumably, have been inspired by the same root urban legend, but one is being distributed in a more fully realized way, with personalizing story details that make the tale readily recognizable as an urban legend. The other version is more a brief "statement of fact." The important thing about both of them, as far as I'm concerned, is that the same process is taking place, making both versions perform the function of an urban legend: in the second version, as in the first, a person is telling a story as true, and the audience is potentially accepting the story as true, with nothing more than the details offered by the performer to substantiate the tale. This, despite the fact that the 2nd version presumably somewhat faithfully (if perhaps fuzzily) recounts the details of the true story on which the tale is based. On the web site I used to run that was dedicated to urban legends I distinguished, for my purposes alone, between "urban beliefs" and "urban legends". To me, an urban belief performs the same function as an urban legend, but is stripped of the characterizing (and usually personalizing) story elements. It might be the version of the tale that someone who is not a natural storyteller distributes, or might be offered as an interjection during a tale being distributed by someone else, and so on. --Planetthoughtful 22:04, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Here is what Merriam Webster has to say: Main Entry: leg·end Pronunciation: 'le-j&nd Function: noun Etymology: Middle English legende, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French legende, from Medieval Latin legenda, from Latin, feminine of legendus, gerundive of legere to gather, select, read; akin to Greek legein to gather, say, logos speech, word, reason 1 a : a story coming down from the past; especially : one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable b : a body of such stories <a place in the legend of the frontier> c : a popular myth of recent origin d : a person or thing that inspires legends e : the subject of a legend <its violence was legend even in its own time

I think if we can see that a legend is not categorically untrue as Iago Dali is claiming, and that like folklore and myth, it can merely refer to an oral tradition.

Urban Myth vs. Urban Legend[edit]

The current section Urban legend#Urban legend versus urban myth comes down against "urban myth". However, urban myth appears to be the standard term in the UK; the Compact OED of Current English has an entry with urban myth as the headword and which gives "urban legend" as a chiefly North American variant [1]. The content here is good, but could stand some expansion. JHCC (talk) 18:52, 19 January 2006 (UTC)

It popular in common usage in the UK, but by definition it is incorrect, both from creation of the original term plus the definition of the terms involved. What exactly would you expand here if you had your way? You seem to be making a habit of going around on articles and trying to redefine what "myth" means. DreamGuy 03:51, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm simply proposing adding information about the UK usage; something along the lines of:

Some people use the term urban myth to refer to this type of folktale. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English entry gives urban myth as its headword and notes urban legend as a chiefly North American variant [2].

However, Jan Harold Brunvand notes that, because the term myth is commonly used to describe cultural ideas and tales that are widely accepted as being false or untrue, the use of urban legend is less prejudicial. Also, according to the more academic definition, a myth usually includes supernatural elements or events (gods, spirits, the creation of the world, etc) which are usually absent from urban legends. Neither sense of myth accurately fits the concept of urban legends, although the academic sense does share with urban legend the important characteristic that the teller of the tale believes it to be true. For more information on the meanings of the word myth, see Mythology.

That's not redefining what "myth" means; apart from some small copyedits that do not change the sense of the paragraph, it's simply noting a verifiable fact (how the COEDCE lists urban myth and urban legend) and noting an important shared characteristic — a characteristic of myth, I might add, that you yourself have pointed out a number of times at Talk:Mythology. JHCC (talk) 14:26, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
JHCC, it'd be nice if you limited your personal dispute to one article instead of raising ruckus on articles all over this encyclopedia. The only thing worse than being wrong is to take your fight all across every article you think you can to try to win. Give it a rest. DreamGuy 03:30, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but simply saying "you're wrong" is not a valid objection, especially since you do not offer any reasons why this specific information should not be included. JHCC (talk) 14:30, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, the fact that all professionals say that the term is wrong, and that the use of myth in this case doesn;t meet either of the two definitions of myth, as already discussed on Talk:Mythology... Jesus freaking christ man, don't you get tired of going around trying to change the real meanings of words based upon popular misconceptions? It's bad enough Mythology is still locked from your shenanigans but now you're spreading your insanity to all sorts of other articles too. DreamGuy 15:46, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm not trying to change the meaning of anything. I've given a citation of a legitimate source for an alternate view (the COEDCE citation clarifies the first sentence "Some people use the term urban myth to refer to this type of folktale."). I've added a legitimate comparison between aspects of "myth" (as used by scholars) and "urban legend" (i.e., that the tellers of both believe them to be true). I have not deleted any scholarly objections to "urban myth".

In other words, I am not saying that "urban myth" is correct and "urban legend" is incorrect, nor am I saying that "urban legend" is correct and "urban myth" is incorrect. I have added relevant factual information and provided a citation for how the terms are actually used. This is not vandalism, nor does it violate NPOV. JHCC (talk) 16:06, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

DreamGuy, your last edit summary (please do not insert a single source on colloquial usage as if it somehow overrules the meaning of the word as described by the world's most famous expert on the topic) shows how completely you have mistaken my intentions. I am not trying to resolve the issue of how "urban myth" and "urban legend" should be used. The COEDCE citation does not "overrule the meaning of the word" — it clarifies how one group of people (the "Some people" of the first sentence) "use the term urban myth to refer to this type of folktale." This does not overrule what Brunvand has to say; it puts it in context. I am not saying "the COEDCE is right and Brunvand is wrong." That would violate NPOV. I am saying "Some people use 'urban myth'. The COEDCE uses 'urban myth' and says that 'urban legend' is chiefly used in North America. Brunvand prefers 'urban legend' for scholarly discussion, and here is why." If anything, this emphasizes Brunvand's argument and gives it greater impact. JHCC (talk) 16:27, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps adapting Haukur's edit on myth could be helpful here to clarify what I've intended by including this info:
Some people use urban myth as an alternate (but not academic) term for this type of folktale. The Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English entry gives urban myth as its headword and notes urban legend as a chiefly North American variant [3].
However, Jan Harold Brunvand notes that the use of urban legend in academic discussion [emphasis added, and need not be in the finished article] is less prejudicial, because myth is commonly used to describe cultural ideas and tales that are widely accepted as being false or untrue. Also, according to the more academic definition, a myth usually includes supernatural elements or events (gods, spirits, the creation of the world, etc) which are usually absent from urban legends. Neither sense of myth accurately fits the concept of urban legends, although the academic sense does share with urban legend the important characteristic that the teller of the tale believes it to be true. For more information on the meanings of the word myth, see myth and Mythology.
Thoughts? JHCC (talk) 14:42, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
DreamGuy, your objection to the variant 'Urban myth' is specious and would seem to indicate a certain cultural bias. This is the expression used by speakers of British English (for which 'some people' could be interpreted as quite disparaging), and it is listed and defined by the OED. Your deconstruction of these two different but equivalent phrases by comparing the meaning of 'myth' as opposed to 'legend' is a complete red herring. If your objective is terminological precision, you will need to consider the fact that a 'legend' as defined by the OED, is necessarily 'historical', whereas such stories are all modern fables. The reality is that BOTH expressions are misnomers, particular when you consider that neither the subject matter nor the audience of such tales are necessarily 'urban'. I would support a more neutral revision of this section.JeHab 21:27, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Is there a category "rural myth" ? Anthony Alcock

Documenting urban legends ?[edit]

You didn't give any "rationale" for deleting my addition, either, just a smart-aleck comment or two. I have tried to word it a little differently. Wahkeenah 06:53, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

Whale Tumor Stories?[edit]

"In the UK, urban legends are sometimes referred to as WTSes (Whale Tumour Stories), from a famous World War II story about whale meat." Um, I don't think so. As far as I'm aware, this phrase is never used in contemporary life. A google search reveals only a couple of hundred references, most of which appear to be citing this article. It seems the source of this phrase is a long out-of-print book which was in need of a grabby title. If the WWII story is "famous", shouldn't we know what it is? I see no reason to create an urban legend that urban legends are called Whale Tumour Stories in the UK. Unless anyone can provide compelling arguements otherwise, I suggest this line is deleted. Ixanthus 06:39, 28 June 2006 (UTC)Ixanthus

  • Wikipedia the source of an urban legend? Awesome. Who says this pretentious weblog has no impact? Wahkeenah 09:14, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I came here to post the same comment. I've been interested in this subject for a long time and never heard them referred to as "WTSes" in England. They were usually known as "friend of a friend" stories in the early 80s, before "urban legend" became the common term. Psychonaut3000 01:59, 14 July 2006 (UTC)
  • OK, the my suggestion's been up a month and no-one has disagreed, so I'm making the edit. Ixanthus

Origin[edit]

The first study into the concept now called "urban legend" was Edgar Morin's "La Rumeur d'Orléans" (in French) in 1969. It is a pity that English speaking writers seem (as usual) to ignore the rest of the world and I think this author should be credited of his work in the article.Jsoufron 07:14, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Example of an urban legend[edit]

In The Times (of London) of January-February 1899 there is a saga of letters from a variety of sources about the use of a real donkey in a procession in either of several churches - with one letter writer on 7 February admitting to making the story up to "annoy" a more Puritanical visitor. (I do not know if there are any real examples of donkeys so appearing)

Jackiespeel 21:29, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Making connection to Lake Bodom murders[edit]

I have added info about the Lake Bodom murders and their assumed connection with for instance the Friday 13th horror movies. I am writing this without any source but my own conjecture. If anyone thinks this is unwarranted speculation I expect the assertion to be removed. __meco 09:36, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Vandalism[edit]

I checked throught the article and under "Structure" there is some text, probably from a certain "travis" which has no relavence to the article, however, the text does not show up on the edit page, could someone work to try and fix this -Felix Pandora 2:56 PM, (EST), Febuary 14, 2007

"untrue"[edit]

The second or third line states: "Urban legends are not necessarily untrue, but they are often false". Can someone please describe the difference between false and untrue? I thought they were the same thing. Unless there is an actual difference between the two word, I think this contradiction should be removed. Gregsinclair 00:34, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The line merely says that most are untrue. It's not a contradiction.
A more straightforward way to say it would be, "Most urban legends have proven to be false." Wahkeenah 13:57, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Adding a good example[edit]

I believe that some of these examples are not as well known as others. The main addition I would make would be to insert the legend of the Underground Kidney Thieves. It seems to be the most well know legend, in which a person is seduced in a bar, slipped a sleeping pill, and wakes up in a bathtub of ice missing a kidney. It is rediculous, but really should be added. 75.26.164.84 03:28, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Organized Crime Urban Legends[edit]

  • Apparently Shotgun Man is a Urban Legend-a check of the Northwestern University website on "Homicide in Chicago" shows shotgun killings in Chicago-but none in Jan-March 1911-and only one killing at Oak and one at Milton Streets between 1900 and 1920 (Reference only).
  • Another example of organized crime Urban Legend is that in the turn of the century New York City there was a "Murder Stable" where Gangsters killed one another. However see [[4]] and [[5]] which debunk this legend.
  • In The Godfather movie a corrupt policeman and a gangster are killed in a restrurant. The nearest in realty to a NYPD Policeman being killed in a restrurant occured in 1927. The facts are these:
    • Two detectives surprized 3 robbers trying to rob a restrurant. Both Detectives and 1 robber was killed; 1 robber was judged insane and the other was executed. See [[6]].
  • See Buster from Chicago-apparently Joseph Valachi version of Buster's life is incorrect-According to research by David Critchley "Buster's" real name was Sebastiano 'Buster from Chicago' Domingo.

Choking Doberman[edit]

I found this one hard to believe, but it has been widely dispersed. Not by me, as I find it ludicrous.

A convicted burglar was being treated in a hospital for the loss of two fingers. Meanwhile, the owner of a Doberman pinscher who had just found that returned to his home found that his pet was choking. The dog was induced to cough up the offending material, and the material was found to be two human fingers. The fingers were matched to the burglar being treated for the loss of two fingers, and were later used as evidence to tie him to a burglary, whereof he was later convicted. The fingers had lodged in the dog's throat. Black fingers -- of course suggesting a racist element in the story.

First, it's hard to imagine a dog biting off fingers. Dogs could slice off flesh with their teeth, but I can't imagine them slicing off bone and swallowing a severed digit. Not even tigers do that.

Second, a dog has a swallowing reflex. The fingers would go down the esophagus -- not the trachea. Dogs are ravenous eaters, eating food in large chunks if necessary... and human fingers, if a dog ever swallowed them, would go easily down a dog's esophagus.

Third, if the fingers had gone into the lungs, then it is likely that the dog would have coughed them up quickly -- or died.

Fourth, it's a racist tale. Note the "black fingers".

Fifth, no time or place is mentioned. That's the big one. No town, no hospital, and no court is specified.

In contrast, a story that I once read -- it had an AP heading -- stated that an eighteen-year-old cat badly mauled a burglar in San Diego, California. I forget the date; such behavior is not what I would expect from a house cat, but instead something that I would have to accept as true...but I am satisfied that the story was possible, and that the wire service rarely prints whoppers.

It had a date and a time, and some news organization took responsibility for the story. Unlike the "choking Doberman" story which is inconsistent with known facts about dogs (except that they maul burglars badly), the one involving the cat is possible. It might be unusual behavior for a cat, but not impossible.--Paul from Michigan (talk) 06:13, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Dogs don't maul burglars (or only in the movies): as a doctor for 30 years, I have seen a lot of children and old ladies badly mauled but not a single burglar. Dogs are only useful when barking, and burglars know how to proctect themselves from dogs' attacks. But that's another story.Jsoufron (talk) 09:05, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Rather than listing it here, you can find the story here at Snopes.com. Reywas92Talk 14:46, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

A reminder, folks: this isn't a discussion area about urban legends, it's a discussion area about the article. If we start chatting up various legends, we'll get to be alt.folklore.urban, which isn't the point - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:32, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Urban Bee[edit]

Just wondering why this link was removed? Any particular reason? (www.urbanbee.webs.com)

Also, should there be a category on wikipedia of various urban legends because i looked and there aren't many now, just a few like the NYC sewer gators. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Fugabutacus (talkcontribs) 12:05, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

There has been discussion about that point, and nobody thought a List of urban legends was particularly useful, because there are a zillion such collections online already. If you think otherwise, you're welcome to create it and do the work; just make sure to provide references. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 12:17, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Alright, but what about the removed link? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.69.67.223 (talk) 19:51, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

== Links to Alien Abduction and Conspiracy theory? Linking to these articles could detract from their credability. From the layout it almost appears to paint these two as urban legends themselves —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.19.241.83 (talk) 21:36, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Link no longer valid?[edit]

The link to the URL (www.urbanlegends.com) that is included in the external links section appears to connect to an advertisement site, perhaps it should be removed? --Allanrob22 (talk) 15:50, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Good idea I remove it. how do you turn this on 15:55, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Origins of urban legends[edit]

Excluding the urban legends that are advisory messages, shaggy dog stories, back-formation explanations, and otherwise accounted for, how many urban legends been found to have a basis in truth, however tenuous? Thus some of the explanations of the Pied Piper of Hamlin story - but other such are likely to be lost in the mists of history. Jackiespeel (talk) 18:57, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Quoting my own message above (from almost four years ago - egad):
It's true that the Texas legislature once passed a referendum praising the Boston strangler, it's true that newspapers have fallen for "Heywood Jablome", it's true that Abercrombie & Fitch sold a line of T-shirts based on Asian caricatures. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 21:40, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Are there not more, and with some history? Jackiespeel (talk) 21:59, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

list of ULs[edit]

Agree with previous editors who did not want to see a potentially endless list of legends. However, this seems a reasonable place to have a list of those ULs which have their own Wikipedia articles. Today there was a deletion of a couple, on the grounds that only the most prominent should be listed -- but then, how to determine? This article seems to me like a good place for someone seeking reference to be able to jump off from. I will not revert, but await response. DavidOaks (talk) 20:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

f you want a substantive list, I would once again per above suggest a new article, List of urban legends. This article could link to that directly, being an easy jump off spot. Or, more simply, we could link directly to the Urban legends category and make sure any article that wants to be listed has the appropriate category tag at the bottom. Either/or would be better than trying to put a bunch of them in this article. DreamGuy (talk) 20:45, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes (to either of those suggestions). Since there are a number of exellent UL compilations already online, it seems a largely pointless task to me - but not a harmful one, if kept away from this article. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 23:15, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Bigfoot[edit]

To editor DavidOaks: Regarding your reverting of the image of Bigfoot I placed in the lede, why would you say that Bigfoot is not a narrative? and why would you use this as a reason to rv? The story of Bigfoot is a well-known narrative and urban legend in the US. It is, in fact, right up there with the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti. And why would you want the TOC in a non-standard position per the manual of style?
 —  Paine (Ellsworth's Climax)  14:54, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Nessie and Yeti, like Bigfoot, are cryptids. They are not legends, because a legend is a narrative, a story. Look at the Vanishing Hitchhiker -- it's a story with setting, characters, plot, a beginning, middle and end. All urban legends are dubious, but not everything dubious is an urban legend. Easiest check would be to go through Brunvand's collections, and see if he lists cryptids. I've got them all, and I don't find any. At the same time, it gets hard sometimes to draw the line when some narratives consist largely of implications. I don't think cases which are marginal to the definition should get high prominence, if they are mentioned at all. Maybe a good rule would be to require a WP:RS for the designation of a given item as an urban legend. DavidOaks (talk) 16:22, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, I suppose I'm wrong, then. The "legends" of Bigfoot, Yeti and Nessie shall have to be left off the list of "urban legends". I've heard them referred to as legends, and I've read many narratives about all three of them. But you're right. [7] [8]
 —  Paine (Ellsworth's Climax)  09:42, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Merge instead to Urban Legends[edit]

There is discussion at Talk:List of common misconceptions#Merge_instead_to_Urban_Legends about a merge which seems more appropriate to here rather than there. Please discuss there. --Lexein (talk) 21:09, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Comment: see this link for the discussion: Talk:List of common misconceptions/Archive 18#Merge instead to Urban Legends. GenQuest "Talk to Me" 01:42, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

Taured[edit]

Why does Taured redirect here? Attys (talk) 02:16, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

Feel free to comment at Talk:Legend (disambiguation)#Merger proposal.--TonyTheTiger (T / C / WP:FOUR / WP:CHICAGO / WP:WAWARD) 02:41, 18 August 2014 (UTC)