Extra Information for Journalists
- Don't forget to send me a copy of the article you write and the
versions of the flyers you have found. You can send these to:
1126 Fell St.
San Francisco, CA
- If you really must get ahold of Danbury Hospital to try to find
the mysterious "J. O'Donnell," they can be reached at
(203) 797-7000, or by e-mail at RobynMich@aol.com.
- Urban legend researcher Jan Harold Brunvand gets lots of requests
for information from journalists, so be polite. His e-mail
address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dave Gross, the creator of these pages, is a 30-year-old software
engineer from San Francisco, California.
- Need some sound bytes from Dave Gross? Okay:
- How did I get into this hobby? "I am interested in a new
meme theory. Meme theorists are trying to apply the lessons learned
from using natural selection thinking in the realm of biology and
behavior to ideas, culture, and instances of folklore like urban
legends. The 'blue star' urban legend is a wonderful example of
a 'meme,' and because we have many examples of it 'caught in the
wild,' so to speak, we can learn about how it evolves over time."
For more information, see my page The Blue Star
Meme: Applying Natural Selection Thinking to Urban Legends.
- Who spreads this urban legend? "This legend isn't a 'hoax,'
really, because this isn't a case of people deliberately spreading
lies and trying to mislead people. This legend is spread by
well-meaning people who believe that they're doing a good deed."
- Why do so many people get fooled? "Most people don't even
imagine that the information could be bogus. They assume that if
they have been given false information, someone must have deliberately
tried to fool them, and they can't think of why anyone would try
to deceive them in this way. Also, the legend has taken on such
frightening details -- the fatal trip, the strychnine, the many
victims -- that many feel that it's better to risk spreading an
unfounded rumor than to fail to notify people of a terrible danger.
The legend also plays on a number of prejudices about drugs and drug
users that people seem to enjoy spreading for their own sake. It's
also worth saying that there are always people willing to speak up
about things they know nothing about."
- This thing really has a life of its own, doesn't it? "If
you think of the warning flyers as an information virus things
become clearer. Just like the common cold virus breaks into a
cell and uses that cell's reproductive mechanism to make more copies
of the virus, the 'blue star' warning hijacks a person's capacity to
reproduce information in order to spread. Instead of spreading
useful information, the host instead spreads more copies of the
- Now that you've got the word out, will the legend die? "The
legend is stronger than ever. New, virulent strains appear and
spread with astounding speed now that they've infected the internet.
In just a few hours, monitoring my computer at work, I saw one strain
jump from hundreds of military computers to machines at InterGraph and
then to Microsoft."