The Real-Life Origins of 15 Urban Legends

He's (probably) not hiding in your shower.
He's (probably) not hiding in your shower. / breakermaximus, Shutterstock

Among the many markers of a quality sleepover, these three are paramount: lots of junk food, very little sleep, and at least one terrifying urban legend. If you grew up in Maryland, that legend may have involved a certain murderous half-goat, half-man aptly christened the Goatman. Kids in West Virginia, on the other hand, might have spooked each other with tales of the Mothman—a massive, winged beast that residents started spotting during the 1960s.

There are, of course, plenty of urban legends that transcend geographical boundaries and don’t have anything to do with human-animal hybrids. All those stories about babysitters plagued by suspicious phone calls, for example, have primed generations of on-duty caregivers to jump whenever the phone rings.

While urban legends are exaggerated and implausible by nature, that doesn’t mean they were all completely fabricated in the first place. In this episode of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is telling the true stories behind 15 popular urban legends. You’ll find out why so many people think Pop Rocks and soda can kill you, how an actual corpse ended up in a haunted house, and plenty of other terrifically terrifying tidbits.

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