To Believe or Not to Believe, Modern Urban Legends

1509 WordsJun 2, 20057 Pages
To Believe or Not To Believe Modern Urban Legends Many people have heard the tale of the dotty grandmother who tried to dry off her damp poodle by placing it in the microwave oven. The dog exploded, sad to say the least , and Grandma has never been quite the same since. The story is not true; it is an urban legend, circulating by word of mouth since the 1970s (Brunvand, 108). Urban legends are popular stories alleged to be true and transmitted from person to person by oral or written communication. Legends tend to arise spontaneously and are rarely traceable to a single point of origin. They spread primarily from individual to individual through various communication, and only in atypical cases through mass media or other…show more content…
Anyone can brush off a story from a complete stranger, but it is harder to ignore someone who is trusted. Why would they lie? In many cases, this trust runs so deep that a person will insist that an urban legend actually occurred, even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. Most people do not investigate every piece of information they hear. As humans they need to trust people for their own comfort. "Psychologically, we need to trust people...and if you trust somebody, you'll believe almost anything that person tells you" (Harris, 4). Some people find particular urban legends believable because they help to substantiate their personal worldview. Humans are prone to accepting stories that do not directly contradict their personal experiences as being true because they have an underlying need to increase their understanding of the world. In the areas where formal methods of information have been lacking, people rely on informal methods like oral stories to educate them about the world. Legends are also more likely to be believed if they are heard from an "authoritative source." (Harris, 4) The reason for this is once again due to a trust between the reader and the source. People generally believe the stories they read in a newspaper or magazine because they trust the credibility. An example that surfaces year after year is the persistence of Halloween stories. There are no

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