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"Rumor Has It"
The Snopes.com tagline
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Snopes (aka the Urban Legends Reference Page) is very nearly the definitive website for busting urban legends and chain emails. They really have Shown Their Work, and while some things simply don't answer to proof or disproof, it's possible to demonstrate that some claims couldn't possibly be true.

So when someone sends you some stupid email, or posts on Facebook saying "Bubble Yum is made of spider eggs!" point them to the right place to figure out that no, it isn't. Or that "Amanda Bundy needs your prayers!" (she recovered years ago). Or, what about Craig Shergold? You know, the boy who was collecting greeting cards years ago? Well… Snopes checked, and Mr. Shergold made a full recovery, is now a healthy young man and — having collected upwards of 33 million greeting cards — respectfully requests that people stop sending them.

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Tropes present:

  • Adult Fear: The "Parental Nightmares" section.
  • Blatant Lies: Reading this site is a fast way to learn never, ever to trust a forwarded email. Many of the hoaxes documented have never had even a grain of truth at their hearts. Even the ones marked "true" are relative, as every single accompanying email has at least some lying and embellishment.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: A Real Life example here, which shows a letter informing students of the Adlai E. Stevenson High school that they can donate money to the school in exchange for being pardoned for tardiness or bad grades. Thankfully, it's fake.
  • Chain Letter: The emails recorded on the site generally ask people to forward it to everyone they know. They don't specify a quota or threaten bad luck (usually† ), but still push the urgency.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Some of the chain emails that they investigate are conspiracy theories. Among other things, they have examined and debunked the "Clinton body count" list, theories about Barack Obama's birthplace, and various 9/11 theories.
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    • Of course, don't tell such theorists to check Snopes - they're obviously part of the conspiracy (regardless of what said conspiracy is).
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: A small but non-negligible percentage of the Urban Legends they've researched actually turn out to be true. A prime example is this story of FBI agents trying to order pizza in an asylum— sounds like a joke, but to their astonishment it was confirmed by the FBI. As the site's authors observe:
    "…no matter how bizarre, far-fetched, or incredible a story may seem at first glance, it should never be entirely discounted without at least some effort being made to verify it."
  • Dan Browned: "The Repository of Lost Legends" does this intentionally, advancing claims like "Mister Ed was really a zebra" to remind the readers that something can look authoritative and well researched and still be bullshit.
  • Easy Road to Hell: A common urban legend about a paper made on whether hell is endothermic or exothermic states that hell must be really hot and getting worse because everyone has been cursed to go to hell by at least someone else in the world... and because he's not yet slept with a woman who once said it'll be a cold day in Hell before she does.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: The famed Taco Bell $2 Bill story.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The Repository of Lost Legends.
  • Glurge: A whole section on it, in-universe (and they are the Trope Namer).
  • Notable References to TV Tropes: This article links to the Straw Feminist trope page in describing the sort of content of the tale that it is examining.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase: Barbara "one-liner relevant to the legend" Mikkelson signs her articles with such a phrase. Back in the days when she and her husband David were the sole authors of the site, that signature (or absence thereof) was the way of identifying who wrote the article.
  • Memetic Mutation: invoked This is discussed often as the means by which the online rumors and stories spread.
  • Mistaken for Thief: Several articles are about people with missing belongings seeing people with a similar belonging and thinking that person stole it.
  • Poe's Law: Many of the rumors cited are ostensibly news articles but are actually from parody or satirical "news" sources. The Onion, The Daily Currant, and Weekly World News are common offenders.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Quite a few Urban Legends archived and discussed here have such teachers, typically involving them teaching a lesson to their students or getting into a fracas with a student of a different political alignment, sometimes portrayed positively, sometimes negativelynote . A few examples (of varying degrees of truth) include a professor giving his students a hands-on lesson about socialism, a teacher having veterans come into her class to impart patriotism to her students, and a Hollywood Atheist professor attempting to disprove the existence of God...by dropping a piece of chalk.
  • Schmuck Bait: The Repository of Lost Legends (T. R. O. L. L.), which purports to be just as true as the rest of the site. It isn't, and is designed to remind people that even seemingly authoritative sources, themselves included, can sometimes be fallible or inaccurate.
  • Shown Their Work: Back when it was driven almost entirely by the Mikkelsons, they always made sure to cite their sources when proving or debunking an urban legend. Now that more authors work for the site, source-listing has grown spottier.
  • Understatement: "Borneo is a fair distance from Palm Beach."
  • Urban Legends: Your top go-to source for debunking all those things you heard from someone who has a friend whose aunt…
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Charlie Chaplin lost a Chaplin look-alike contest. This one's actually marked as true.


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