Truth or Fiction
Reviewed by Nancy Holcomb
This site is founded and operated by Rich Buhler. He is currently the president of Branches Communication in California. His background and current profession are in broadcasting including both radio and television. He has written and researched urban legends and rumors for over 30 years. He also publishes “The eRumor Report” as an email newsletter to help keep people informed. While he does not possess a formal education in the study of legends, he does have a vast amount of experience. His journalism background also provides credibility as a researcher.
This website cover a variety of topics from stories dealing with animals to virus alerts. Some of the stories are covered in depth with additional links to source websites and examples from the Internet, while others are shorter. One thing this page offers is information for users who may be the victims of a hoax. This is valuable to prevent people from being taken advantage of either financially or emotionally.
The website is updated daily in some areas such as “The Latest 10 Virus Alerts” which provides information from Sophos.com about the latest virus alerts and how to fix them. This is also a credible website so it can be used with confidence. Stories are updated as they occur and are researched by Mr. Buhler.
There is no apparent way to contact Mr. Buhler directly via email, but there are three different addresses to use for contacting the site depending on the nature of the inquiry. If a user just wants to ask a question, they are encouraged to check the site before using the question email link. If a user wants to report a new rumor, they may do so by using the “enews” email address. Finally, there is a “staff” email link for members of the media to use in order to schedule interviews or other activities. The website warns users that because of the success of the site responses to emails may take time.
The site does not provide a bibliography as the information comes from thousands of different sources; however, it does provide links to the sources within the articles and dates of newspaper and magazine citations. If the material is from an individual source the name of the person is provided. Examples of the rumors as they appeared on the Internet are also provided to demonstrate the original form of the story.
Because the website deals in rumors and legends much of the material cannot be proven beyond a doubt. Mr. Buhler has tried to account for this with his labeling system. Stories labeled “Truth” or “Fiction” have been supported with “reliable or first-hand sources” that can provide evidence. “Reported to be Truth” or “Reported to be Fiction” are stories where a source has been found but its credibility is questionable. “Unproven” stories have not yet been proven either way. They may be true or false but evidence has not been found to make a determination. “Truth & Fiction” means that parts of the story are true while others are fiction. “Previously Truth! Now Ended” or “Now Resolved” covers items such as projects or requests for help that while once valid have now come to an end, and “Disputed” means that there are credible people on both sides of the fact or fiction argument and the website is not making a judgment.
Much of the material on the website has been in printed form especially the references and sources that come from newspapers and magazines. The printed resources include national and local newspapers from around the world and popular magazines.
Reviewed by Jana Middleswart
This site contains a searchable database of urban legends, e-mail hoaxes, and
virus updates. The site is run by Branches Communications, Inc. The majority of
the site is available free to users of the World Wide Web, however some features
such as e-mail updates about new hoaxes and viruses are only available to
subscribers who are willing to pay $19.95 per year.
The site appears that links are added to the page on a regular basis. As for the accuracy of the information provided, there are disclaimers stating that “the information on the Website is provided "as is" for general information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for receiving information directly from the people or organizations referenced.”
Searching for stories within the site is relatively easy. There are two basic ways information can be located including the search feature and the searching by category. Each page provides information regarding whether or not the story is true, false or unproven. The pages also contain examples of the forms of the story which one might find circulating on the internet.
Using the search feature to find information regarding e-mail hoaxes seemed to be only mildly successful as the database of such incidents does not seem to be particularly well developed. There are many other urban legend sites with are much more developed than the truth or fiction site.
Reviewed by Charles Sanford
This is an interesting site because of its objective to be accurate. In “about us” statement, it is indicated that all information contained in the site is attempted to be verified. If the verifying source is considered to be reliable through past experience or reputation then it is listed as “true”. If it cannot be verified to the degree the author feels necessary it is considered “reported to be true”, but it is identified as such.
The founder and operator has been a broadcaster, speaker, author and producer for more than 30 years and has written about rumors and urban legends during that time. He has won numerous awards for the work he has done in this regard. There is a company sponsor named Branches Communications but the founder is the president of the company. It would appear that this is a very reputable site.
Bias does not appear to be indicated on this site. It sole purpose appears to be accurate reporting on various rumors and reports to verify their validity or falsehood. There is no advertising on the page.
The page does not have a date on it. There is no indicator of when the last update was made, but it does list the top 10 computer viruses for September 2003. Apparently, it is updated roughly monthly. All links appear to be current.
The site links subject items from Animals to War on Iraq. It is a valuable site since its purpose is to dispel rumors that run rampant through society in various forms of communication. This page offers an opportunity to get the facts straight before becoming concerned enough to involve time, effort and money. The material is in-depth enough to keep one from wasting pursuits on hear say and conjecture.