Call them hoaxes, beliefs, gossip, scams, or urban legends…at one time or the other you have come across them. Heck, some of them even land up in your inbox courtesy an email forward by a friend. Facebook is also filled with it. The myths of our digital age spread virally just like age-old myths used to. But both have a common thread – we love to know about them.
The seekers of the truth head to the grand oracle which goes by the name Google these days. But there are quite a few more websites where you can read, enjoy, and debunk myths and urban legends.
The episodic program on television is run by Discovery Channel (and others) and it’s quite popular around the world. It has been on since 2003. Two special effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, use science to test and debunk rumors, myths, movie scenes, news stories, and anything else in our popular culture. Remember the Diet Coke and Mentos myth? The best place to catch it is course the TV (check the YouTube channel too), but the online MythBusters site also has useful information.
You have outtake videos, interviews, sneak peeks, episode guides, puzzles etc. You can also submit myths you know about. Go into the Myth Files section where nearly 700 myths are being compiled so that you can see the light. The Forums is another place you should be if you want more of the light.
The Q&A styled site is quite a source of knowledge, if you sit down and start reading. Or listen to the podcast. Or join the mailing list. Cecil is a damn smart guy and he can probably answer all that you throw at him. From a newspaper column to the web, the world’s smartest human has been fighting ignorance. The ignoramus in me always wanted to know if using expired drugs will kill me.
The email and social networking sites are the playground for scamsters. Thankfully, we have sites like these which help us to double check…or at least people who get easily taken in by Bill Gates’ offer of a million dollars. Purportal is a searchable database of scams that are floating around on the web. A read through the emails they have flagged should be enough education for the time when an email comes around asking for your credit card number.
Also read: Online Resources To Battle Frauds, Urban Legends & Spam where we have another site that’s going strong – Snopes.com
Search for urban legends on Google and you are sure to get David Emery’s page on About.com. He has been a long standing warrior against hoaxes and urban legends. He talks about the latest one that’s doing the rounds on Facebook too – How to Stand a Broom on End on the Equinox (or Any Other Day for That Matter). Don’t miss clicking on the top three tabs which talk about the basics of folklore, the current hoaxes and legends, and the classics from all ages.
The Skeptic’s Dictionary gives definitions, arguments, and essays on subjects supernatural, occult, paranormal, and pseudoscientific. The site also points to other reference material like books, news articles, and external links to support the facts or prove the fiction. Entries are arranged alphabetically. From alternative medicine to the supernatural, the site could be a quick stopover for some school assignment.
Well, now you have enough stuff to hash around the digital fireplace. Are you an avid reader of urban legends and historical myths? Which is your favorite one? Do you know any other website those talk and trash urban legends?