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July 30, 2005 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally the folks at Snopes get asked to debunk some very unusual potential urban legends; questions so ridiculous you can only marvel at the motivation behind the asker's particular situation. Fortunately, they have collected and published the best of these questions online. found via
posted by jonson (39 comments total)

 
My friend swears that you can't be prosecuted for stealing a dead body because it has no intrinsic value. Is this true?
Heh!

Most of them still seem like real people asking real, if not outrageous but real questions.
posted by Balisong at 11:52 PM on July 30, 2005


Like this one:


I've heard that it is impossible to take a lightbulb out of your mouth once one puts it in, without either breaking the bulb or dislocating the jaw.

Do you know if this is true? I'm counting on you - my husband is really curious, and I don't want to have to drive him to the hospital...


Comedy gold!! I hope Fox Networks doesn't see this list. That'll be next season.
posted by Balisong at 11:54 PM on July 30, 2005


A friend of mine asked me if I've ever hear of invisible witches or ghosts that suck the blood out of a person's arm while they are sleeping. Apparently, she saw "marks" on her boyfriend's arm and this was the story that he told her.

And some are just deliciously useful alibis.
posted by jonson at 11:55 PM on July 30, 2005


IS IT TRUE PEARLS BRING SADNESS
posted by Jairus at 11:59 PM on July 30, 2005


Metafilter: because this town lies a lot. thanks.
posted by drezdn at 12:35 AM on July 31, 2005


Wow, hilarious and terrifying at the same time.
posted by Lynsey at 12:36 AM on July 31, 2005


I just lost it! These are hilarious, but a little scary...
posted by ob at 12:40 AM on July 31, 2005


....Apparently, she saw "marks" on her boyfriend's arm and this was the story that he told her.

"I'm with stupid."
posted by dabitch at 12:40 AM on July 31, 2005


I sometimes forget just how little some people know about how things work, particularly the human body. Amazing.
posted by deafmute at 12:48 AM on July 31, 2005


My cat often looks me in the face. I used to think he was just being friendly. Now I know he's just sizing me up, like a chef at a butcher shop, waiting for "the big day".

Hilarious.
posted by mokey at 1:00 AM on July 31, 2005


for some reason, I find this to be the oddest:

can you tell me how i would analyze the effect each statistic has on the world.

posted by papakwanz at 1:01 AM on July 31, 2005


Thank God AskMe is for members only.
posted by alphanerd at 1:32 AM on July 31, 2005


Someone needs to ask one of these on AskMe..
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:14 AM on July 31, 2005


By masturbating it helps the chance by not getting cancer? Is that true?
Yes, true.
posted by mono blanco at 2:40 AM on July 31, 2005


HOW CAN I GET THE SUCTION BROKE WHEN THE CONTACT IS STUCK TO EYE

I really didn't need to see that one after accidently sleeping in my contacts.
posted by melt away at 4:52 AM on July 31, 2005


I've been told that if you snort powdered glass as you would cocaine, you will die. Is this just a rumor, or would it actually happen?

Now what would possess someone to do something like this?
posted by purtek at 4:56 AM on July 31, 2005


Can people see into your house if it's darker in your house than it is outside? When I look around at other houses that don't have lights on, I see darkness, a reflection or only what is immediately in front of the window (curtains, plants, etc.). As a result, I tend to act as though no one can see what I'm doing inside as long as the lights are off and there is no other source of light illuminating me. My wife, however, is often appalled by this behavior. Should she be appalled, or am I correct?

That would actually be a pretty good one for The Straight Dope.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:32 AM on July 31, 2005


Speaking of which (I'd be shot down for asking this in AskMe), I've debated someone whether swallowing diamond dust would result in your innards being perforated all to hell, merely scoured, or relative unharmed. Anyone know?
posted by Bugbread at 5:35 AM on July 31, 2005


I just read a blurb that pre-packaged foods can cause people to turn gay because of too much estrogen.

Brilliant question. Brilliant in the sense that a silly legend like this may do more to convince some people to eat healthier than government outreach programs.
posted by tfmm at 5:43 AM on July 31, 2005


Except that in the version I've heard the pre-packaged foods are specifically soy based ones (possibly because of phytoestrogens).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:51 AM on July 31, 2005


Have you heard anything about a palm rub done when someone is shaking or holding hands that indicates they want to have sex with you?

yes ... the girl rubbed my palm with her middle finger ... much fun followed
posted by pyramid termite at 6:02 AM on July 31, 2005


..is there really a god? ..who made god? seriously please answer back at me

God is an urban legend.
posted by stbalbach at 6:18 AM on July 31, 2005


I just read a blurb that pre-packaged foods can cause people to turn gay because of too much estrogen.

I figured this one had to do with the apparently real feminizing effects of phthalates, used to soften plastics.

Avoiding phthalates (as my pregnant wife is doing) is really difficult!
posted by Aknaton at 6:46 AM on July 31, 2005


Does urinating on a lemon tree make it grow quicker/better?

What's wrong with that question? I've certainly heard that "myth" many times. I've always assumed it to be true, but is it?

Confession time. Er, I actually looked this up on Google once. I found many links to gardening forums where this was asked, and on every occasion the thread got very quickly derailed by the "eeeeeww, that's gross!" brigade.

I bet those dirty birdies from MythBusters would love to have a crack at this one.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:58 AM on July 31, 2005


Hi, I just wanted to ask if you could investigate this urban legend. 16 is the age of consent for having sex with someone over 18.

People should learn to use Google. This is hardly a difficult question, and while it has its humor value, I sure hope someone at Snopes pointed them to some online resources for this information.

Now, why I know this site exists...Uh, er, uh...
posted by thanotopsis at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2005


If I didn't know better, I could have sworn I just looked at proto-AskMefi.
posted by crunchland at 7:01 AM on July 31, 2005


What's wrong with that question? I've certainly heard that "myth" many times. I've always assumed it to be true, but is it?

This was actually asked on AskMe as well, but in the context of dogs and yards. I found some relevant answers in a search by "dog" and "yard", but I don't recall the exact question that was asked.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:01 AM on July 31, 2005


Does the color pink really make a person feel weaker?

Well, PinkStainlessTail , does it?
posted by ericb at 8:47 AM on July 31, 2005


I AM A MOUNTAIN OF STRENGTH AND POWER.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:57 AM on July 31, 2005


Does the color pink really make a person feel weaker?
Apparently it does
posted by RMALCOLM at 10:02 AM on July 31, 2005


Has anyone had to cut off their tongue because it frozen to a flagpole?

My great uncle lost the middle portion of his tongue after being dared to touch it to a water pump. Tongue got stuck, friends pulled him off and left part of his tongue behind.
posted by jaimystery at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2005


My cat often looks me in the face. I used to think he was just being friendly. Now I know he's just sizing me up, like a chef at a butcher shop, waiting for "the big day".

See: post-mortem predation
posted by John Shaft at 2:16 PM on July 31, 2005


Speaking of which (I'd be shot down for asking this in AskMe), I've debated someone whether swallowing diamond dust would result in your innards being perforated all to hell, merely scoured, or relative unharmed. Anyone know?

I'd guess relatively unharmed is closest to the mark: Yes, diamond dust is very hard, but seeing as your digestive tract is very soft (ignoring teeth) it really doesn't matter if the dust is as hard as diamond or only as hard as silicate particles: very fine ones can be found in clay for instance, which, though I wouldn't suggest basing any meals on it, is not particularly dangerous when ingested.

I suspect breathing in the diamond dust would be a lot more harmful at a lot lower doses.
posted by fvw at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2005


Eating some types of clay is, in fact, quite healthy for you. Good mineral content. I forget the details, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:29 PM on July 31, 2005


The use of bentonite clay internally is an old home remedy that people have used since the early 1900's for various reasons. Whereas many places sell "internal" bentonite, there are no proven studies to indicate that internal bentonite clay is effective in curing any ailment.

It is, however, a fantastic skin mask for people with skin too sensitive for dead sea masks, it's very helpful as a poultice for poison ivy or insect bites, and when added to the oils during soap making, helps create a kick ass shaving soap. :)
posted by dejah420 at 6:54 PM on July 31, 2005


Kaolinite (Aluminum Silicate Hydroxide -- "white clay") has been used internally as a remedy for upset stomach for hundreds of years. It's also used in toothpaste and cosmetics.

There are large deposits of this stuff near where I live.
posted by ijoshua at 7:17 PM on July 31, 2005


I was thinking of a starvation case where clay was forming a large part of the diet.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:11 PM on July 31, 2005


Women Who Eat Dirt: Humans need forty or fifty nutrients to stay healthy, and sometimes we have to go outside the bounds of what is considered food to find them. Or, we have to add things to our diet, like clay, in order to turn toxic foods into nutritious ones.

This was the first link I could find, but there are many more, about people, especially women, especially in the south, eating dirt and clay on a regular basis.

Anyway, jonson, great link. You should've waited till today to post it!

At first I thought "oh, this is just those 'Yalies' making up silly questions," but by the end I was converted, amazed and appalled. For some reason the apparent cluelessness tickled the same funny bone as in Thurber's The Pet Department, especially this one: I tend to act as though no one can see what I'm doing inside as long as the lights are off and there is no other source of light illuminating me. My wife, however, is often appalled by this behavior. Should she be appalled, or am I correct?

I suspect they're both right - people can't see what he's doing, yet whatever it is gives his wife every right to be appalled. Thurber, of course, would have had a field day with this situation.

Oh, and there's also the little mini-narrative thread of someone who very much wants to get rid of hickeys, including the vampire story he told his credulous girlfriend. Great stuff!
posted by soyjoy at 8:57 AM on August 1, 2005


Always knew those folks at Snopes were amateurs. Reference librarians have to deal with those kinds of questions all the time, while keeping a straight face.

Well, trying to keep a straight face...maybe there is a reason I don't fly a reference desk any more.
posted by QIbHom at 3:05 PM on August 1, 2005


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