Updated Decmeber 15, 2016

Folklore, Rumors (or Rumours), Urban Myths

& Organized Misinformation Campaigns

Interfering with Development & Aid/Relief Efforts, & Government Initiatives
(& how these are overcome)

There are lots of obstacles that can stand in the way of human, community and institutional development, or government health initiatives, or even elections, but there is one that rarely gets discussed: widespread misunderstanding and myth-spreading. Folklore, rumors (or rumours) and urban myths / urban legends, as well as organized misinformation campaigns, often interfere with relief and development activities, and government initiatives, including public health initiatives -- even bringing such to a grinding halt. They create ongoing misunderstandings among communities and cultures, prevent people from seeking help, encourage people to engage in unhealthy and even dangerous practices, cultivate mistrust of people and institutions, have even lead to mobs of people attacking someone or others for no reason other than something they heard from a friend of a friend of a friend, motivated legislators to introduce laws to address something that doesn't exist, and influenced elections. And with the advent of social media like Twitter and Facebook, as well as just text messaging among cell phones, spreading misinformation is easier than ever.

Since 2004, I have been gathering and sharing both examples of this phenomena, and recommendations on preventing folklore, rumors and urban myths from interfering with development and aid/relief efforts and government initiatives. I do this entirely on my own, as a volunteer, with no funding from anyone. I update the information as my free time allows. 

Please note that I'm not interested in just urban legends but, specifically misinformation that interferes with relief or development efforts or government initiatives. This includes countries with conflict zones, post-conflict countries, under-developed countries, and even donor countries, like the USA. And most especially, I'm interested in ways that such misinformation has been countered successfully. If you have related information or examples, please contact me.

What I'm also wondering: are their any efforts in developing and transitional countries similar to the myth-busting Straight Dope column by Cecil Adams in the USA? Or truthorfiction.com? Or hoax-slayer.com? Or MythBusters? If you know of such, please contact me.

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