Urban Legends Reference Pages

Reviewed by Barbara Arnold.

Urban Legends Reference Pages (http://www.snopes2.com/index.html) is operated by Barbara and David Mikkelson and is comprised of urban legends, common fallacies, misinformation, old wives' tales, strange news stories, rumors, and celebrity gossip. The Mikkelsons pay the cost of maintaining the site. No sponsors endorse it, but there are some advertisements. The copyright date on entries reads 1995-2001. The Non-War Current Urban Legends and Netlore section has November 11, 2001 as its last update, and contains the most recent entries. A site map is included, and provides a key to the various entities available.

The Mikkelsons state on the FAQ page they research all the subjects written about. They do not claim to be the ultimate authority in this genre, and emphasize that reference materials used by them are listed in the sources section at the bottom of each page, enabling readers to checkout the validity of information for themselves. 

For the most part, the information is presented without any judgmental comments. The exception to this is in the Lost Legends’ segment. One legend in this part claims that Mr. Ed the talking television horse was really a zebra. The information backing up this statement makes no logical sense at all but is written in a very convincing manner. A “more information” link is available at the bottom of this story.  Following this link leads to a page titled False Authority. On this page it is announced that all stories in the Lost Legend section are spoofs. This page goes into detail about how important it is not to believe everything one reads, and although a source may seem credible, that’s not always the case. Barbara Mikkelson warns,” The trick is to recognize the dividing line between "reliable" and "infallible” and thus learn how to avoid throwing oneself bodily across it. Or, in other words, don't throw the common sense out with the bathwater.”

As for the purpose of this site, Mikkelson goes on to say, “Among other things (including providing a good read and some wonderful belly laughs), we hope this site helps our visitors learn to judge the quality of information presented to them. We'd like to think those who stop by here learn a little something about what steps to mentally take when pondering the eternal "hoax or true?" question. As wonderfully gratifying as it is to be regarded as infallible, we'd much rather see our visitors discover the key to their own abilities.”

The main categories presented on this site are rumors of war, business, military, critter country, Christmas, pregnancy, horror, Disney, history, weddings, radio and television, humor, love, Titanic, language, toxin du jour, college, music, inboxer rebellion, wooden spoons, quotes, Cokelore, movies, Lost Legends, science, glurge gallery, travel, sex, religion and automobiles.

Stories under these topics each have a rating of true, false, undetermined or ambiguous, or indeterminate origin. Each individual legend describes the true or fictional incident, gives additional variations of the story, origins and history of the legend and in some cases an audio or video segment playable through Real Player that relates to the story. The last date of update is also given for each legend, with many of theses being within the last two years.

The sources section at the bottom of each page contains links to some of the books used. Clicking on one of these will lead to internal page about the reference book used, and if the book is still available in print, another link to Amazon.com is available.  An external biographical link on Julia Child was available on a page with a legend about the famous chef

Interaction is available to Website visitors via a message board, which has a variety of topics to post comments on. Articles submitted by the public are also considered for publication, without a fee. Volunteers are invited to e-mail the editors if they are interested in designing pages, creating graphics, or doing video captures.

Reviewed by Delane James