Celebrities: They're just like us, except people actually care what they have to say. It's like a superpower: If enough actors say we should donate to Darfur, we'll send money without even finding out what that is. But with that great power comes great responsibility -- when a couple of celebrities insist that vaccines cause autism, childhood disease outbreaks follow a few years later.
Famous people have been accidentally etching bullshit into the public consciousness since, well, as long as famous people have existed. For example ...
The Jersey Devil Myth Was Started By Ben Franklin
The Jersey Devil is kind of a less-famous Bigfoot -- a humanoid reptilian cryptid with a fearsome appearance that lives in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. Sightings go back centuries, and it's such a cultural staple that the New Jersey pro hockey team named themselves after it.
"We are proud to be named after such a magnificent, graceful creature!"
The myth goes that a woman was very pissed about being pregnant with her 13th kid and decided, "You know what? I hope it's a ding-dang devil." Well, her wish came true: A hooved, horned, tailed, winged devil flew right out of her undercarriage and took off into the woods, where it was reported to have killed cattle, frightened ministers, and left mysterious tracks that dogs refused to follow. Just like the old saying goes: Speak of the devil, and he'll come shooting out of your birth canal.
Who do we have to thank for this? None other than Benjamin Franklin.
As Cracked has previously mentioned, Franklin had a lively rivalry with a local New Jersey politician and publisher, Titan Leeds. Leeds made for quite the easy target, as he was a proponent of astrology and backed the unpopular local governor. In his usual "ain't I a stinker" way, Franklin attempted to smear Leeds by writing a joke article claiming a monster was born to the Leeds family. It wasn't the classiest display, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Leeds family had some disabled members, and one was born in the same year as that eventually attributed to the Jersey Devil.
"Whoa whoa whoa, I'm not saying all disabled people are monsters. Just the one!"