Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why Some Hoaxes Catch On

In the absence of facts, people are open to some strange beliefs or misinformation.

As odd as it might sound, there are the recurrent stories that predict the eventual extinction of blondes or redheads.  As a matter of fact, one of these was BBC_News, which predicted that blondes would be extinct in 200 years, with the last natural blonde being born in Finland.  Probably, this was due to some people not really understanding the persistence of recessive characters over extended numbers of generations.

Fairly recently, a news item came out that said that the North Dakota legislature recently enacted a ban on string  underwear.  The sources for this did not specify whether it was only thongs that were banned; or were string bikinis also included.  Now, I assume that North Dakotan women (or guys, for that matter) are not often purchasers of such insubstantial lingerie; and that seemed to be a very unlikely place for this to be seen as a problem, much one requiring a legislative remedy.*  It is true that several specific states, even Florida, have ordinances forbidding the wearing of thong swimwear; but nowhere does this apply to undies.  [There was at least one school forbidding said garments by girls, together with an inspection of contraband[!]; and, as usual, the school managed to look petty in doing so.]

Anyway, most people know nothing of North Dakota, other than it's a red state, fairly religious and Republican, underpopulated, and numbingly cold!  In the absence of facts, red herrings can be found on occasion.  This was apparently an April Fool's joke set up early.

There was an old story of a cemetery in Montana where a tombstone had an ATM built in.  Said device had been placed there by the deceased to guarantee that family members would visit his grave to be able to withdraw $300 per visit.  Not true; but a nice story.

In my opinion, in order for a hoax to be successful, it must be on a limited bed of facts; and there must be a willingness on the part of some people to believe outlandish stories that emerge from those places.  Let's face it: states like Montana and Idaho rarely make the national news, which emphasizes the two coasts and Chicago.  And, if you take some esoterica out of context and broadly extend its meaning, you can get the groundwork for a good hoax.

Here's a possible example.  A college in Iowa stages Lysistrata, a play in which sometimes the male chorus may wear leather phalluses.  The story gets extended: Phallic worship and rituals are widely practiced in the Hawkeye State!  Nope, any more than eccentric farmers erect baseball stadia in cornfields.

But if the story is juicy, so much the better for it to take hold in the popular imagination!

Sometimes there are unexplained events, like overlarge footprints found in a swamp.  This can lead to the rumor of the Honey Island Swamp Monster!

Obviously, we can also infer that, in the absence of widespread knowledge of early French and Medieval history, books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail might catch on, and spawn novels as well.

And, sometimes, the unexpected surprise comes true, as in the case of the coelacanth.

*Just to be safe, I might purchase several pairs of granny panties if I ever visit North Dakota, not wishing to be apprehended by the Underwear Squad and having a rap sheet that includes wearing bikini underwear!
Not a thong; but a lovely pattern and trim.


Anonymous said...

That school principal was a sicko!

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

No kind of stupidity that comes out of red states surprises me any more. ND is so backward and unprogressive.

TexWisGirl said...

awww. i rather like the innocence and farming country of ND!

Grand Crapaud said...

Is it okay for women to go pantyless in North Dakota?

Sinner Bob said...

If gentlemen prefer blondes, they would be more often chosen as mating partners, thus perpetuating the blonde gene.

I can imagine some state banning thongs to counter visible whale tails. After all, some cities have laws against wearing pants too low.

Mike said...

Just in case this might be true I driving to ND to see if the panty police are hiring.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Well, it was a funny hoax. Actually, I can imagine several places thinking up such an idea.

I like whale tails!

Meredith said...

There are a few places that do forbid bikinis. And thongs are impermissible on the beach everywhere.

Bilbo said...

If you are stopped by the police for speeding in North Dakota, I wonder if they do a panties check while they look to see if you're wearing your seat belt. They could get three citations out of one stop!

Insane Penguin said...

North Dakota is a strange place, especially Fargo.

Cloudia said...

You cleverly make quick work of hoaxes! And as always, fun besides! YaY!

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
=^..^= <3

Deena said...

It just seems plausible that North Dakota would ban thongs. Just saying.