Urban Legends That Tons Of People Believe

They're macabre, they're factually incorrect, and they spread faster than a rash through a dorm shower. We live in a world strange enough for most urban legends to seem completely believable, but even the most cursory research could disprove most of the nastier stories about unfortunate events. Unfortunately, many people still see email forwards, memes, and hasty Wikipedia edits as proof positive that many of these surreal and creepy stories are true. Here are a few unrealistic urban legends, modern and otherwise, that people still believe.

Coca-Cola dissolves bone and flesh

An email forward that's been around nearly as long as dial-up AOL makes a lot of unusual claims about Coca-Cola, including the idea that police officers use the soda to clean blood off of highways after vehicle accidents, and that a glass of Coke will dissolve an entire tooth (or a steak, depending on the version of the forward) overnight. While it's true that Coke contains a very small amount of corrosive acid, it's far less than what your very own stomach contains. Soda isn't the healthiest thing in the world for any part of your body, but it absolutely will not dissolve your flesh like some kind of sci-fi glob monster. Drink up.

Daddy Longlegs would kill you if they could

No one will really argue whether or not harvestman spiders are creepy (they are), or if whatever demon souls that power them should go straight back to hell (they should), but at the very least, they're not at all poisonous. While you still need to be justifiably terrified of your common brown recluse, black widow, and hobo spider, which are probably all plotting together in your shoes right now, the daddy longlegs can do you no harm. Legends state that the harvestman is the most venomous spider of them all, and that its jaws are simply too tiny to get you—but it's just not true. They're not interested in chomping you, they don't have venom, and they don't even have fangs.

Days of darkness

One every few years, the rumor spreads that the Earth will be plunged into a week or so of total darkness, and if you believe this, please quickly seal yourself in your bomb shelter and we'll tell you when it's safe to come out. Spoiler alert: we're gonna leave you there. While it's true that certain, specific portions of the Earth don't see the sun for a few months at a time each year, due to how the planet is positioned relative to the sun, it's certainly not a phenomenon that spreads across the Earth, and it's definitely not because of solar storms, as some of the rumors state. Your solar powered calculators will remain forever operational.

HIV blood oranges

When nosophobia and xenophobia meet, it's not a pretty thing. For a few years, people have been circulating an image that purports to show an orange that's been injected with HIV-positive blood, presumably imported from Libya, or Algeria, or another country that the average American knows nothing about. All of these oranges just happen to be blood oranges. Basic biology disagrees with just about all of this, as the virus just can't survive outside of a host body, and won't even survive in a human stomach, even in the worst case scenario. Orange you glad you know this now? Sorry.

Reverse PIN number

In a particularly unhelpful meme that's been floating around for almost a decade, it's purported that if you enter your ATM PIN backwards, you'll immediately be able to summon the police to your location. Presumably, this action would be useful if you're forced to withdraw money at gunpoint, but unfortunately, it's just not true. While systems similar to this have been suggested, patented, and even brought before lawmaking committees, they remain completely optional for banks to use, and according to reports, not a single bank has adopted the measure. Better just hand over the cash, folks.

The Lights Out Gang

If you see a car at night without their headlights on, and you give them a little courtesy flash to let them know, they'll turn around and kill you as part of a gang initiation. This initiation ritual is attributed to the Bloods, or the Crips, or unnamed London street gangs, but wherever the locale, it's not true. The legend has been helped along a bit by accidental email forwards within police departments around the world, but there have been no reported cases where someone has been murdered for common car courtesy, so keep on being kind.

Knights in Satan's service

Even today, overzealous crusaders claim that pop and rock music are tools employed by Satan to indoctrinate youth into evil ways, but Old Nick seemed to find his way into everything in the '70s and '80s. While edgy bands have intentionally involved demonic imagery in their album art and music, and Gene Simmons masqueraded as The Demon onstage, at no point did the band name "Kiss" ever stand for "knights in Satan's service," Meanwhile, Simmons, a theology major, didn't do much to dispel the rumors, as he enjoyed the publicity as well as upsetting people. No matter the reason, the name Kiss is still better than the band's original name, Wicked Lester.

Zuckerberg's millions

If you share this image, Mark Zuckerberg might give you a few million bucks, as a personal thanks for using his social networking service and sharing pictures of your ugly baby. After all, what's a few million to a guy who's worth $36 billion dollars? Zuckerberg is now the subject of his very own persistent myth, powered by the very platform of misinformation that he helped create. Usually, Facebook users get a message filled with standard Facebook PR jargon, stating that their account has been specially selected for a huge prize, but it's really just an attempt to scrape bank information from those users and disappoint grandmas.