from Joe Stubbersfield:
While many of us regard urban legends as just a bit of harmless fun, they can sometimes have negative consequences on individuals and communities, spreading fear and mistrust. For instance, a Chinese restaurant in Doncaster, recently faced bankruptcy after a local urban legend spread that a customer had choked on a microchip from a retired racing greyhound cooked up in a dish.
But what is it about urban legends that make them so culturally successful? In a paper recently published in the British Journal of Psychology, based on work I conducted at Durham University with Jamie Tehrani and Emma Flynn, we examined the idea that the success of urban legends can be explained by the way our brains evolved to learn, remember and transmit certain types of (mis)information more readily than others. Their success could be explained by two key biases in our cognition.... Our minds fall for simple biases.... People matter more than environment.
The entire post can be read here.