We’ve all gotten them. That email that a co-worker or friend forwards to us about about a sick child who wants to break a world record for receiving the most postcards, or perhaps you’ve seen the email urging you to quickly put your mobile phone number on the “Do not call” registry or else you will start receiving telemarketing calls on your cell.
Emails and stories like these grab our attention because they seem believable and can get us emotional. They get us either angry, shocked, sad, or concerned. Most of the time though, these stories turn out to be false.
If you have any doubt about whether these emails have any truth to them, you absolutely have to run the story by a debunking / hoax checking site because that email or story may just be and urban legend.
Snopes.com and UrbanLegends.about.com
Both Snopes.com and UrbanLegends.about.com have compiled a comprehensive list of the most common urban legends and Internet hoaxes. It only takes a moment to go to either site and do a quick search on the topic. You can even use Google or Yahoo to do the search. Try typing “site:snopes.com jay leno” into your search box (the “site:snopes.com” portion of the search will restrict the results to only pages found at snopes.com) and check out the results.
You would be surprised at how many of the chain letters we receive are actually listed on these sites. They will also go into a little detail about where and when the legend started, and if it was partially based on fact, and whether or not the story is true, a little bit true, or just plane fake. I am a little partial to Snopes.com because they have a nice color-coded breakdown by the legend’s truth factor.
Do yourself a favor before you forward on one of these messages and check one of these sites before you hit “send”. Don’t get worked up over a tearjerker or infuriating story, only to find out that it was bogus.
Not only are these sites useful for checking on the status of the emails you get, but also can be quite fun to browse. Check out the section on Movies at Snopes.com or UrbanLegends.about.com’s Celebrities section. Both sites have plenty of content to keep you entertained.
Here is a screen shot of just a few of the categories that are available to puruse.
Here are a few more links to you make want to check out.
If you’ve found other good urban legend sites, I would love to get their URLs. Leave a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to add it.