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Urban Folklore

Date: 04-10-13
Host: George Noory
Guests: Neil Arnold, Bill Spillane

Folklore researcher Neil Arnold described various urban legends, and what, if any, truth lies behind them. It's amazing how some stories can embed themselves into local communities and then be taken as fact the world over, even though they are completely made up, he commented. The fear factor or scariness of a story can increase its popularity as it's passed around at work or schools, sometimes even leading to panic or hysteria. "We never seem to question the who's, where's, and why's, we're just more interested in the fact that it terrified us-- that's why it sticks in our mind," he remarked.

The scarier legends often concern a 'boogeyman,' and typically involve cars, or people in remote or dark locations, such as the tale of an escaped asylum patient with a hook that haunts lovers lanes. Such stories have a warning aspect, perhaps started by parents, to keep their kids from going to such places, he explained. The legend of the phantom hitchhiker is popular around the world-- a woman is seen standing by the side of the road and given a lift. She suddenly vanishes but leaves behind a purse or personal object, and when the driver goes to her address, they find out that she died some 30 years ago. There are regional variations on the story, he detailed-- in Chicago, she's called Resurrection Mary and hangs out near the cemetery where she's supposedly buried.

A legend from Blue Bell Hill, an ancient village in Kent, England involves motorists hitting a young woman who runs out on the road, but then is no longer there. This tale could relate to the 1916 murder of a girl in a pale dress on this road-- like many such legends it involves a possible ghost sighting, he said. Urban legends have also become a staple of horror films, such as in "When A Stranger Calls," where something innocent like a telephone becomes a conduit for terror. People have reported finding some very bizarre foreign objects in food, as well as creatures, like the 'Kentucky Fried Rat,' and a snake inside a tortilla wrap, he continued. Arnold also spoke about his interest in cryptozoology and the crossover between this field and urban legends.

FairTax Alternative

First hour guest, tax change advocate Bill Spillane spoke on behalf of the 'FairTax' alternative, a national retail sales tax on new purchases that would replace the payroll tax and other taxes. The current income tax allows for Congress and the President to manipulate Americans economically and politically, and further, we end up paying for the underground economy which is $1-2 trillion a year-- because no one pays tax on that income, he pointed out. Congressional representatives aren't motivated to alter the present tax code because the most powerful lobbyists aren't in favor of change, he lamented.

News segment guests: Lauren Weinstein, Richard C. Hoagland, Peter Davenport

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Bumper Music

Bumper music from Wednesday April 10, 2013

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