7 Bullshit Rumors That Caused Real World Catastrophes

#3. That Soccer Player is a Little Too Good

The Rumor:

One of the soccer players is a witch! Get him!

The Damage:

In September 2008, a soccer riot killed 13 Congolese people after accusations of on-the-field witchcraft enraged the crowd.

How It Got Started:

It's not clear what completely awesome soccer move this player performed, but what we do know is it was so badass that rumors the player was using witchcraft to aid his performance quickly spread through the crowd.

Naturally, this angered the supporters of the other team (as well as anyone who had bet on the match, we'd presume). The crowd became violent.

In an attempt to control the violence, police fired warning shots into the air. Now, normally firing a gun into an angry crowd is a great way to get them to calm down and peacefully return to their seats. In this case the gunfire created a stampede, and the deaths were caused by the violent surge toward the exits.

It's just fucking soccer.

If you're thinking that Congo appears to exist on an entirely different planet than the rest of us, get a load of this...

#2. Magic Penis Theft

The Rumor:

Penis-stealing sorcerers are loose in the town!

The Damage:

Yes, we're back in Congo, where rumors of penis thievery are taken a whole lot more seriously than they probably are in your hometown. Mobs attack and sometimes kill people accused of cock-theft via witchcraft.

In a recent case, 13 people suspected of penile sorcery were arrested by Congolese police and back in 1997, seven people were lynched for suspected penis-stealing/shrinking offenses.

"I'm sorry, you're accusing me of what?"

How It Got Started:

In certain parts of Africa, they've never met a magic dick-stealing or dick-shrinking rumor they didn't believe immediately. Laugh all you want, but two people who won't be joining you include these two Kenyan boys who actually did have their penises cut off by a sorcerer who was concocting an anti-HIV cocktail-potion.

"Maybe if I added some Kenyan Boy Penis..."

Given this climate, it isn't surprising that guys walk around clutching their genitals and unsubstantiated public accusations get people killed.

#1. A (Fake) Story of Child Abuse Sparks the Harlem Riots

The Rumor:

An innocent Puerto Rican boy was beaten to death by the white man!

The Damage:

That story hit the streets in 1935 and sparked the Harlem riots, the first race riot in the area which killed three people, wounded hundreds and damaged property to the tune of roughly $2 million dollars. Adjusted for inflation, those figures work out to $200 trillion worth of property damage and 300 thousand casualties.

How It Got Started:

The kernel of truth behind this story is that a 16-year-old Puerto Rican boy named Lino Rivera was caught shoplifting a 10-cent penknife. A store employee apprehended the thief, and got his hand bitten for his troubles. Long story short, the police were called and Rivera was arrested and later released.

While all this was happening, a crowd had collected outside the store. The trouble started when a woman who witnessed the initial confrontation began shrieking that the boy had been beaten.

Naturally, when an ambulance showed up to treat the store employee for his bite wound--lest he turn Puerto Rican during the next full moon--the crowd assumed that it was there to pick up the boy. When they noticed a hearse parked nearby, the shrewd crowd applied Occam's razor to the situation, concluding that the boy must have been beaten to death.

"Nope, I just like hanging out with my hearse in Harlem."

That evening, demonstrations were organized in front of the store during which printed handbills and pamphlets, the blogs of their time, were passed around reading "CHILD BRUTALLY BEATEN." The prestige and credibility of printed media pushed the crowd over the edge: a rock was thrown through the store's window, and city-wide carnage ensued.

"According to this, I beat a Puerto Rican boy to death today. Curious."

Things only calmed down once pictures of the boy standing beside a police officer were passed around, disproving the rumor. As per their retraction policy, the rabble-rousing pamphleteers shouted at their recently-looted Jenkins JD-30 TV/Radio receivers a few hastily-worded apologies, which were cruelly ignored by the newsreaders inside the box.

Read more of Glenn at Scenic Anemica or check out his novel in progress right here.

For more bizarre myths that people think are true, check out 7 Retarded Food Myths the Internet Thinks Are True. Or check out the logical explanations behind your favorite sex myths in 6 Sex Myths as Explained by Science. And be sure to visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see what we're looking at instead of working.

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