Posted November 19th, 2011 by Murray By Moonlight
Filed under: False, Scarelore, The Truth Is Less Strange Than Fiction, Urban Legends
Tags: chain email, email, kidney theft, real news stories, Scarelore, urban dangers
It was once entirely the stuff of Urban Legend fiction — a man meets a woman at a bar, they go back to his hotel room, he wakes up the next morning in a bathtub filled with ice. There is a telephone on a nearby stool and the words “Call an ambulance!” are written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror. When he reaches hospital, in a critical condition, the Doctors discover that he has been drugged and one of his kidneys has been harvested in his hotel room bathroom.
Obviously nothing says you’ve had a great time on a business trip more than coming home missing an organ. You and all the other guys in the office can compare scars where your kidneys used to be and reminisce about “Good old Ralph”, who was stupid enough to let it happen to him twice.
And yet, as much fun as that situation sounds like, grim stories of commercial organ harvesting are turning out to be very real, although perhaps a little less sensationally dramatic than the popular urban legend version above.
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Posted February 15th, 2009 by Murray By Moonlight
Filed under: That Pop Cult Thing
Tags: chain email, internet, research
Slate.com has an interesting article examining the way internet chain emails and web content work.
Writer Chris Wilson focuses particularly on the ‘25 Things About Me’ meme in Charles Darwin Tagged You in a Note on Facebook, providing some in-depth analysis of the way chain content spreads across the Facebook network, and likening its progression to the same way a disease operates when infecting new hosts.
While this may seem a little dramatic, Wilson is by no means the first to draw a comparison between chain emails and other web content to the way viruses work in evolutionary biology.
In fact, the field of Memetics is devoted to exploring the way informal information spreads among groups of people, modelling this spread along evolutionary lines.
Much as Chris Wilson writes, in Memetics a new idea, custom or belief — a meme — must be transmissible to a large group of people or it will be unlikely to survive. The implication isn’t that the meme itself wants to survive, but that the people who accept or participate in it want it to survive to varying degrees. In this way a meme can be thought of to work exactly in the way a virus might – to survive, the meme must spread, often mutating  in the process to become more adaptable to other hosts.
Some memes are much more efficient at ‘infecting’ new hosts than others. For example, chain content that is both alarming and at least a little believable  can often spread across huge groups of people, working on the ‘just in case’ principle. Other memes might work simply by being appealing in some way to a wide number of hosts, while still others operate on an implied obligation and reward basis.
Why this is interesting in the study of Urban Legends and folklore is that it helps us understand the very human process of wanting or feeling obligated to be ‘involved’. The motivations of each individual who forwards or changes a chain email might be different from person to person, but across groups of people we can begin to see that memes communicate because they are suitable in some way to each individual who participates.
To read the original article, visit: Charles Darwin Tagged You in a Note on Facebook
|1.||I.E. developing new details or attributes, as a virus might, as people refine the meme before sharing it on with others.|
|2.||Though often not true!|
Posted March 30th, 2008 by Murray @ ulblog
Filed under: False, Urban Legends
Tags: chain email, email, hoax, Scarelore, urban dangers
The email claims that a new danger has arrived in your neighbourhood – gangs of thieves are tricking the unwary into smelling ether disguised as a sample of an expensive perfume, and are then robbing their happless victims once they have been rendered unconscious.
How worried should you be that you or your loved ones might fall prey to these fiendish purveyors of fake fine perfumes? Step into the ULBlog car park to learn a little more about The Sweet Smell Of Danger…
It really is amazing how long a good Urban Legend can survive out there in the wild!
When I first wrote about the Perfumed Bandits email hoax we were living in a different century. It was November 1999, and the same email that has gone on to cause so much concern and alarm around the world was making its way into unsuspecting email inboxes for the very first time.
And this email didn’t mess about. It went straight for the psychologic jugular and didn’t let go, delivering its payload of anxiety and alarm to a host audience that was still trying to adapt to the idea that not everything you receive in your inbox is true or real. Even if it claims otherwise in very big letters…
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Posted February 7th, 2006 by Murray @ ulblog
Filed under: Murray by Moonlight
Tags: chain email, email, humour
We’ve all received the chain emails warning us about various dangers, from the dreaded effects of aspartame, to hypodermic needles hidden in McDonalds playpits, to killers lurking in the back seats of our cars.
Join me in the ulblog inbox for a funny take on all of that good-intentioned email hysteria…
I’ve seriously lost count, over the years, of how many things I’ve been warned about or encouraged to do by chain email.
Remember the Microsoft Money Giveaway email? The one that promised bucketloads of cash for forwarding the email to as many people as you could, because Microsoft had invented an email tracker and apparently wanted to reward people for filling the Internet with spam? Hands up anyone who knows anyone who received any money from it?
Or the one that said that aspartame, used in artificial sweeteners, was making people rot from the inside out?
Or the one that came with the soundfile that when you played it, could tell you your name, star sign and was able to answer basic questions about geometry? 
Amidst receiving all of those emails, did you ever wish you could send one back that described what it would be like if you followed all of that urgent advice?
If you answered, ‘Hell, yes!’, then you’re not alone…
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|1.||It’s very possible that I made that one up.|