Latest urban legend in the Post - December 2, 2003
Don reports: Yesterday Crutch ran the urban legend about the Zimbabwean bus driver who let his mental patients escape and replaced them with normal people at a bus stop... Crutch apparently got this story from the "Darwin Awards" which is well known for not really caring if the incidents they cite are real or not.
Bangkok Post urban legends - November 24, 2003
After years of making fun of the Bangkok Post as a purveyor of urban legends (and being warned for doing so), it is amazing that the Post is touting the dangers of cell phones at gas stations again. Even more amusing is its sources--besides a local expect at Shell, it quotes "a recent batch of emails doing the rounds."
"Using a cellphone while fuelling up is too dangerous, since it might ignite the fumes,'' said Thepparit Vesurai, the health, safety, security and environment manager of Shell Thailand.
A recent batch of emails doing the rounds refers to three alleged incidents in the United States in which cellphones ignited fumes during fuelling.
Posts at websites said the incidents could not be verified, and there was no documented case of a fire caused by a cellphone. (Call me back, I'm refuelling -Experts disagree on threat of fire hazard and Motorists reluctant to switch units off handsets while filling up, November 24, 2003)
Urban legend sites give some background to the belief, explaining that several large companies do have these warnings 'just to be safe.' However, as Snopes.com explains: ...we don't know anyone who has demonstrated experimentally that it's even possible ... What it is about a cellular phone that could possibly trigger an explosion is difficult to fathom, however. The claim that the batteries used in a cellular phone can ignite gasoline seems specious, since cellular phone batteries are the same voltage as automobile batteries (12V D.C.) but deliver far less current. Likewise, the claim that a "cellular phone ringer uses more than 100 volts for excitation" is a curious artifact of the "regular" telephone era: cellular phones don't have ringers; they produce audio tones that simulate the sound of a ringing telephone. In a world where people are increasingly unwilling to allow even the possibility of something going wrong, however, we're bound to see even more regulations "protecting" us from yet another non-existent threat.
More Bangkok Post urban legends:
False: The wife of the owner of a Thailand Starbucks told customers that the particularly trendy coffee spot is not for Asians. This showed up in the Bangkok Post's Insider column. Several days later the same column said they learned it was all a joke.
False: Calamity strikes at pianist Myron Kropp's recital in Bangkok. This was a humorous article first printed as a joke in the Bangkok Post in 1967 and repeated in other newspapers since then as truth.
False: Cellular phones have touched off explosions at gas stations. This legend is 'supported' by a lengthy article that appeared in the Bangkok Post. This article is still online.
False: A character in the 1948 film Key Largo makes a prescient comment about Florida politicians. The Insider column in the Post first reported this as truth, then admitted they got it wrong.
False: Don notes: Trink, in his sad old age, has taken to printing a different urban legend each week as fact. I think people e-mail them in to him on purpose just to see if he'll do it... Last week he printed as real the bogus story about the shopkeeper on Maui dropping dead from infected rat urine on a can in a storeroom (The column was entitled: Does Nana Entertainment Plaza or a can of soda pose a greater danger?)... the week before it was the guy in New York who died at his desk, but no one realized he was dead for several days. He's printing these now AS IF THEY'RE TRUE. And the week before it was the urban legend of the origin of 'Taps.' At least the Trink column does not seem to be searchable in Post archives.
False: Don spots another urban legend in the Bangkok Post. This week Trink explains: Why do full-length golf courses have 18 holes, and not 20, or 10 or a dozen? And the truth from Snopes.