You might want to believe that urban legends are just that: legends. They are either false, or just plain old exaggerated facts disguised as universal truths. Or, you know what? They could be real. The following are four urban legends that actually happened in real life.
The man who flew on a floating lawn chair
Lawrence “Larry” Walters had a dream. He had always wanted to fly. But the US Air Force didn’t accept him because his eyesight was not so hot. But Larry badly wanted to fly. So when he got the idea of using weather balloons to fly, he knew that he had to do it, or else he would lose his mind. Using forty-five helium-filled weather balloons, he strapped himself to a chair and flew an impressive 16,000 feet above ground. Larry also brought a BB gun with him. That way, he could shoot down some of the balloons to make the thing go lower and land. But the problem came when his BB gun slipped off of his hands. With nothing to control his flying chair with, he had no choice but to wait until his balloons’ cables got caught with electric cables before being rescued. Good thing he didn’t get shocked like a Looney Tunes cartoon!
Buried video games
At New Mexico state, there was this dumpsite that used to have several hundred thousand copies of video games and consoles buried within it. The story went that way back in 1982, back when Warner Communications bought the video game company, Atari Inc., for $28 million. For the good part of 1982, Atari quickly rose in stocks and earned big money for their new parent company. But in the following year, Atari’s stocks fell so low that the former was actually losing way more money just by keeping the latter. So, they had to sell off Atari that year. And that’s also why, in that same year, Atari took every unsold cartridge and console they had, and crushed and buried them all at a dumpsite El Paso, Texas. Today, the dumpsite’s video game contents are being dug up and auctioned by the city government of El Paso to raise funds for a museum, which is dedicated to this part of video game history.
In Japan, there is an island largely populated by rabbits. Yes, cute cuddly rabbits. Aptly named Rabbit Island (or Okunoshima), the place used to be a dangerous factory back in WWII, until the war ended and the project had to be scrapped. Although some claim that the rabbits were survivors from experiments in the factory, the truth is actually more innocent. When the place was turned into a park after the second world war, a school released eight rabbits into the island. They did that because they couldn’t afford to take care of them anymore. Without their natural predators hunting them down, the rabbits propagated and increased in number. Today, there are at least 1,000 rabbits living on the island.
Science says you can slap sense into someone
Imagine this scenario: two men are in a bind. One of them was panicking. The other is just a bit annoyed by his partner. Then he looks at him, cold in the eye, and slaps some sense right into him. But then you would wonder, does this really work in real life? Well, brace yourself… because the answer is yes, it can! Psychologists call it the Yerkes-Dodson Law. In short, it just means that being too relaxed or too jittery makes it harder to think. It seems that slapping someone can wake him out of being too relaxed. But that won’t help if they’re too stressed. As psychologist Travis Langley Ph.D. puts it, you can also slap someone silly. (But please don’t try it!)