Unlike its close relative, the urban legend, a suburban myth does not take the form of a narrative. Rather, it appears as a well-known fact or even a little-known fact when, in fact, it is not a fact at all, merely a misinterpretation, a product of propaganda, or sheer nonsense which has achieved the status of fact by virtue of repetition. The mass media, which frequently fails to check sources, often spreads suburban myths.

Usually, they concern science and history. No-- Thomas Crapper (he was never a "Sir") did not invent the toilet, Catherine the Great did not die having sex with a horse, scholars did not tell Christopher Columbus he was going to sail off the end of the flat earth (educated and seagoing Europeans knew the world was round in 1492), it is in every sense false that we only use 10% of our brain, and science does a pretty decent job of explaining how the bumblebee flies. Yet these, and similar non-factoids surround us. They do provide fame and fortune for websites such as Robert T. Carroll's The Skeptic's Dictionary and Cecil Adams's The Straight Dope, which often explode suburban myths.


Cecil Adams. The Straight Dope. www.straightdope.com

Robert T. Carroll. The Skeptic's Dictionary. www.skepdic.com

Adam Hart-Davies. "Sir Thomas Crapper: A Busted Flush." Science and Technology 3. http://www2.exnet.com/1995/11/01/science/science.html

Richard Shenkman. I Love Paul Revere, Whether he Rode or Not. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of World History. New York: HarperCollins, 1994.

Richard Zacks. An Underground Education. Toronto: Doubleday, 1997.

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