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Debunking Myths of Urban Life

November 17, 1989

Regarding Mike Spencer's article, "Readers Angry but Still Unable to Find Case of Halloween Horror" (Nov. 9), you might be interested in a book by Hal Morgan: "Rumor." In it he debunks a number of "urban myths," including:

* Woman finds rat in Kentucky Fried Chicken.

* You can get high by smoking banana peels.

* Walt Disney wanted his remains put in cryonic freeze, but his family ignored the request and had him cremated instead (only the cremation part is true).

* The oil companies are suppressing the development of a "pill" (or carburetor) that would allow cars to travel 100 miles on a gallon of gas.

* The tobacco companies own marijuana fields in Mexico and have a design for marijuana cigarette packs all set to put on the market the moment pot is legalized.

* Woman bathes poodle, then puts it in microwave oven to dry it, thereby killing it.

These are only a few of the zingers that "everybody knows about." Some of those not mentioned in the book: One's hair can turn white (or gray) overnight from fright. Hair, beard and fingernails continue to grow after death. A dull razor blade placed under a cardboard pyramid aligned to true north will sharpen itself. Urban violence increases when the moon is full (the implication being that the moon has some kind of influence on the human brain).

Human nature being what it is, I expect "modern mythology and lore" will continue as long as there are imaginative people to spin the yarns and gullible people to believe them.

Stephen C. Lee, La Habra

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