FEBRUARY 13, 2014: THINGS ARE FAR WORSE WITH THE NEW CYBER-AGE TWIST ON URBAN MYTHS

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There was an ancient time when the Internet was not even on the table for most earthlings.

We had no access to the cyber-world beyond a creative approximation of the future in old sci-fi movies and even under these circumstances; computer use was usually limited to malevolent behavior by villains.

 

The original ‘Star Trek’ was particularly hard on computers and Captain Kirk was forced to relinquish his quality time in pursuit of hot blue alien chicks to confront a nasty cyber-villain.

 

Occasionally a good guy computer would verbalize information or Spock would decipher what appeared to be a blank roll of paper, so computers did provide information for the Enterprise on special occasions.

 

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These days we live in a new world where computers are a fundamental part of our daily lives and they can also work for both the forces of good and evil in our lives. One source of evil is the constant barrage of fakery passed off as factual on the ‘Net.

 

For some reason, people tend to believe a great deal of what they read on the Internet and they do so at great peril because they are shoveling with both hands in many cases when it comes to a proliferation of urban myths.

 

Urban myths are fact-free legends that seem plausible on the surface, but are largely based upon a high gullibility factor in the average person. We are a world of surface-scratchers when it comes to information and will quickly cling to erroneous information like grim death with no actual investigation into the validity of the source.

 

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Urban myths used to pass along by word of mouth and spread pretty quickly along that path. I can recall a story recited to me by my older brother when I was around seven about Leave It to Beaver actor Jerry Mathers. My brother Pat told me Beaver (Mathers) had his throat cut open by a barbed wire fence and would no longer appear on the show because he was dead.

 

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Naturally,  Beaver was back next season and I began to question rumors at a young age. I was skeptical when I heard about the ‘Vette sold cheap because it reeked from a dead body found in it and I was skeptical when I heard about a guy who got a Corvette Sting Ray cheap because some idiotic owner did not connect the dots on its value and sold it as a mere Chevy.

 

I also doubted the existence of a spiteful wife who sold her unfaithful husband’s beloved ‘Vette at a fraction of its price just to get even, because the best way for her to get even is sell it a market value and keep the money.

 

All of these stories circulated long before I had any idea about the incredible future impact of the Internet in all of our lives, even in the area of urban myths. These days urban myths show up on a daily basis on the ‘Net and people still buy into the BS at alarming rates.

 

Those of you who have any doubts should put Snopes.com on speed dial because their sole reason for existence is to debunk the lies and deception found in cyber-world.

 

All of the above brings me to a story that will never die: the Portugal barn find fraud which shows a massive collection of exotic cars found when an American buyer opened up a building on a farm.

 

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The story has been around on the ‘Net for almost 10 years and shows no sign of imminent death in that horrifyingly immortal Freddy Kroeger/ Michael Myers movie franchise kind of way.

 

Instead it continues to show up on social networks and in emails with ruthless regularity. Please keep Snopes on your favorite list and do not circulate this story anymore because it’s one of the most annoying urban myths in the long history of gullibility.

 

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Finally, if I could invent an app that sends a mild electrical shock to the next person who sends this barn find story my way, I would gladly do so-if I could send a life-changing shock to the clown who started this myth-I would do it in a heartbeat.

 

With no remorse.

 

Jim Sutherland

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