Most false urban legends have incredible discrepancies that help anyone with any reason in their grasp to discredit them. The one I'm thinking of in particular tells the reader what this person was thinking and feeling, only to have her die, alone in her house. Others use bad science to explain horribly disgusting means of death. So I have come up with a formula for creating a credible urban legend.

1. Come up with a gross premise. It won't reach the status of legend unless it's remarkably gross, so throw in some taboo sexual acts, a small furry mammal, carbon dioxide, a crossbow, and the like.

2. Find a setting that exists in reality. Large cities and universities work best, because the more populous a region, the tougher the story is to check out.

3. Try not to involve the police or a hospital. There are people who make a hobby of checking out urban legends (see www.snopes.com), so you don't want to leave a nonexistent trail of evidence.

4. Do some heavy research. If your story involves brine shrimp, find out where they come from, what conditions are necessary for them to live and breed, what they are used for, etc. If your poor hero falls victim to nasty spinal column thieves, find out how to remove a spinal column, what condition such a victim would be in when discovered, etc. Don't make any mistakes. Lack of research is the most obvious way to discredit an urban legend.

5. Now that you have a credible urban legend, you need to spread it. This is best done anonymously. The Internet is a wonderful format in which you can find enough gullible adolescents willing to spread your stories. You may find it helpful to begin spreading your urban legend in the area in which it was set. If a legend takes place in New York City, and it was first spotted there, this will help to stump investigators.

Have at it! Remember to make your stories gross enough to be memorable, but not so gross as to scream "urban legend". I don't advocate spam, so you might initially e-mail your story to friends under the premise that it was forwarded to you. Let them do the dirty work for you.

Note: Don't bother testing your urban legends on me. I automatically delete any such e-mails, especially if they have "FW" in front of the title.

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