Rumor Flies

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Rumor Flies comically addresses the origins, evolution, and veracity of your favorite rumors, myths, and misconceptions. Tune in for more research, stories, and unsolicited commentary! Participation encouraged.

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Snap Judgment #30: You don't look like Yourself

Snapple Fact #971: Charlie Chaplin failed to make the finals of a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

Image source.  Singapore's The Straits Times, 10 Aug 1920, "How Charlie Chaplin Failed":

Image source. Singapore's The Straits Times, 10 Aug 1920, "How Charlie Chaplin Failed":

Verdict: Maybe?

I chose this one because I had heard it before as well, unlike many of the more absurd "Snapple Real Facts" we've covered so far. It is pretty well documented. As the above image shows, this actually was reported on at the time it allegedly happened and spread very quickly, probably because of the popularity of Chaplin. 

During Chaplin's 40-film career, especially in the beginning, there were actually many of these "Chaplin look-alike contests." So "The Tramp" himself decided to throw his hat, mustache, and cane into the ring. The results were disappointing. From "The Straits Times"

Lord Desborough, presiding at a dinner of the Anglo-Saxon club told a story which will have an enduring life. It comes from Miss Mary Pickford who told it to Lady Desborough, “Charlie Chaplin was one day at a fair in the United States, where a principal attraction was a competition as to who could best imitate the Charlie Chaplin walk. The real Charlie Chaplin thought there might be a chance for him so he entered for the performance, minus his celebrated moustache and his boots. He was a frightful failure and came in twentieth.

According to the Albany Advertiser, he placed 27th out of 40. While the numbers vary a bit from article to article, the key points are clear: He's a garbage cosplayer. 

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Now for the real question: Is it real? The above discrepancy in how he did, as well as an inability to corroborate the initial report, has presented some issues. As it turns out, many of the papers were just repeating what they heard at the time from each other. From the linked Open Culture article: 

When one researcher asked the Association Chaplin to weigh in, they apparently had this to say: "This anecdote told by Lord Desborough, whoever he may have been, was quite widely reported in the British press at the time. There are no other references to such a competition in any other press clipping albums that I have seen so I can only assume that this is the source of that rumour, urban myth, whatever it is. However, it may be true."

So as much as I LOVED finding the original papers and thought this would definitely prove the myth, it turns out this is most likely a case of early newspapers simply running with a story without verifying it. Chaplin never confirmed it, the source of the story can't even be confirmed to exist, and people simply ran with it. It may very well just be an urban legend that started almost a century ago. 

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Snap Judgment #25: Chickensaurus Rex

#732: The chicken is the closest living relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Verdict: True (probably)

Let's open with a real quick reason why this falls under "probably" true: It is hard to define what "closest" relative means because the criteria is varied and different researchers/people may put different weight on different aspects. Genetically speaking, they do seem to be the closest, so let's take a look at some of the sources behind this claim!

In 2003 Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, along with a team of researchers, analyzed a 68 million-year-old T-rex leg bone discovered earlier that year. It was in remarkable condition and contained "a matrix of collagen fibers," which allowed them gain new insight into the terrifying and powerful T-Rex.

"The analysis shows that T-rex collagen makeup is almost identical to that of a modern chicken - this corroborates a huge body of evidence from the fossil record that demonstrates birds are descended from meat-eating dinosaurs," said Angela Milner, the associate keeper of palaeontology at the Natural History Museum in London. "So, it is very satisfying that the molecules have provided a positive test for the morphology."

The analysis was then used to compare the T-Rex bone's proteins with those of known animals. Simply put, out of 7 sequences, 3 matched chickens "directly." There we also matches with newts and frogs. It is important to note that there is a popular theory that alligators and/or crocodiles are close relatives, but we do not have every species in the database that was used (including alligators and crocodiles), so they may still prove an equal or even more accurate match. The Independent discusses this a bit more, but they seem to pretty much dismiss the connection to alligators without a very good reason, so i'd trust The Guardian (and the cited articles/journals, of course) over it. 

Now here's something The Independent gives us that The Guardian doesn't: A ridiculous video of scientist strapping a fake dinosaur tail on chickens to see how T-Rex's may have walked. It literally looks like they strapped a plunger to the back of a chicken. I know there is more to it, but I find this video so funny. Maybe it's just me...


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Snap Judgment #24...? Disney's Gang Problem

Snap Judgment #24*: Disney's Gang Problem

*this post has nothing to do with Snapple. Josh's story was just too good to pass up.

Batman vs. The Joker. The Capulets vs. the Montagues. White Rabbits vs. Main Street Fire Station 55. Okay, one of these things is not like the other ones, obviously. If you don’t know anything about the latest heated rivalry, then you’re not alone. 

There was recently a lawsuit that pitted the Main Street Fire Station 55 Social Club against the White Rabbits Social Club for defamation, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Not too outrageous as these things tend to happen unfortunately. Except this didn’t occur just out in the heart of the streets, but on a main street. Like the Main Street. Like Disneyland in California Main Street. 

Yeah, you read that right ( This story is about how two separate social clubs in Disneyland had a feud that resulted in this lawsuit which also did name Disneyland in it. Apparently it is very common for many different social clubs to gather and spend time together in the park. Some clubs have a few people, while others have over 100 separate members who come together to share in the magic.

These loons, a term which I feel confident in using here since I am most certainly one of them, all have, for all intent and purposes, matching biker vests essentially with patches that display their affiliation for these different clubs. Some members just outright get the patch, while others have an initiation period for him/her to prove his/her worth to the club. Once in these clubs, members hold events outside the park like parties or benefits. And that’s where our lawsuit comes in.

The Main Street Fire Station 55 Club was holding a fundraiser in the park when one of its members was approached by a small group from the White Rabbits. The crew of the Rabbits asked for $500 as a form of protection to ensure the benefit would go uninterrupted throughout the park. I’m going to stop here and remind everyone that this is indeed a park where if you pay for a ticket, you have access to any and all areas designated for guests without any hindrance of anyone or, as I assume, any other social club. So in my mind, there is no reason why anyone would need protection of any sort. For any reason. Ever.

The lawsuit is ongoing at this time but I wanted to highlight such an asinine story. I figured it would be a nice break from the norm of Snapple facts that we have been doing lately to see how crazy, again myself included, people are about these parks. Hopefully both of these social clubs can end this pissing contest.

Thanks again for all the love and support you guys and gals give us. Be on the lookout for big things in the upcoming future for Rumor Flies!

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