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Urban Legends and Paranormal Activity

Urban legends often circulate around very popular areas of paranormal activity. Many communities have one or more local haunted areas, of which stories abound. Often a legend follows these, which claims to explain the cause for the haunting. For example, there are perhaps thousands of "Crybaby Bridges" across the country, and these are almost always an accompanying tale about a young mother drowning a baby, throwing her baby off of the bridge, etc. Many areas have ghost hitchhikers; there is almost always an explanation involving a car accident death.

One must approach these legends with critical thinking, and in almost every case, a major question is immediately raised: If the story is true, how would anyone know? Here is a prime example: In Cleveland's Erie Cemetery (across the street from the Indians' Progressive Field) lies chief Joc-O-Sot. According to legend, Joc-O-Sot was part of a Vaudeville troupe that traveled to England. While there, Joc-O-Sot took ill (varying stories list his cause of illness as a previous gunshot wound that became aggravated, or tuberculosis). He wished to return to his native home in Minnesota, but died while passing through Cleveland, and was buried there. He is claimed to haunt the cemetery and the baseball stadium, and it is said that he shattered his headstone out of anger (the headstone is indeed shattered).[1][2]

One should immediately realize that, without the ability to speak to the dead, it would not be possible to know what happened to the headstone. Unless there is historical evidence that Joc-O-Sot was angry prior to his death, knowing that he wouldn't make it to Minnesota, this part of the legend also cannot be proven. What is known is that there was indeed a chief Joc-O-Sot, who is buried at the cemetery. Historical research could determine whether or not he was a chief, how he died, and whether or not he was part of a Vaudeville troupe. Scientific testing could find evidence of paranormal activity in the area, and possibly point to Joc-O-Sot, should his image appear in photos, through EVP recordings, or unusual measurements in the exact location of his grave. These would not, however, confirm the urban legend.


wikipedia:Urban legend