Urban Legends

Did you receive the questionable email the other month about registering your cell phone number on the "Do Not Call" directory in order to prevent your number from being released to telemarketers? Are you unsure as to whether or not eating celery actually results in negative calorie intake? Still wondering if that gum you swallowed the other day will be in your system for another seven years?

Fear not! Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, founders of the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society and the creators of snopes.com, are on a mission to set the record straight about these and countless other rumors and urban legends. While some people spend their free time circulating stories about the deadly effects of microwaving food in plastic containers, snopes.com is devoted to eradicating such falsities. Armed with scholarly literature, reputable cross references, and more connections than Kevin Bacon, the Mikkelsons have researched thousands of rumors and folklore. For each claim, the website confirms or denies the statement, goes through a brief history of its origin, and details the research done in order to arrive at a conclusion. Their fact checking sources are even listed on each posting so users can verify their work.

To help snopes.com keep abreast of the lasted scoop, users can also email in questionable folklore they have recently encountered. While the Mikkelsons have a ways to go before they can close up shop, they have made a good dent in freeing the world from faulty tales and reports. 2.7 million people visited snopes.com in June, a 24% increase from site traffic in January. Interestingly enough, among the dozens of categories listed, including history, medical, and food, Disney is the most commonly searched collection. So if you are curious about the alleged hidden messages in Disney films, or about almost anything else you have heard or read, check out the website. And in order to do my part in fight against misinformation, calorie friendly celery is the only true bit of information in the first paragraph.

About Debra Miller Arbesman:
Debra Miller Arbesman is senior associate, retailer and consumer products at Compete, a Kantar Media company that helps brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers.

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