Say you went searching for stories about “Jack and Diane.” All kinds of stories. You might get the John Mellencamp song. You might get a story about a president and a singer. Or a president and a princess, maybe? People might just have made up stories where the characters were named Jack and Diane. They might tell you real stories about folks they know with those names.
But say you came across two stories about Jack and Diane and in both stories a guy shows up and beats them both with a chair. In one story, the guy’s name is Ricky. In the other story, the guy’s name is Richie. Your first question might be “Is this story real?” and say it is. Say you find corroboration in the local papers that this happened or at least, that people were talking about it happening and believed it had happened recently. So, yeah, there’s still a chance the story was made up, but it’s more “real” than most urban legends.
Then say you look at the stories in the papers more closely and, damn, you realize one story takes place in one city and the other story takes place in a city a half an hour away. Is this Richard dick (ha) just going around terrorizing people with the same names? Or maybe, to make this analogy work, people with the same jobs?
Yeah, let’s say that’s it. You get two stories about a mechanic and a nurse terrorized by this Ricky/Richie dude. You can somewhat verify them. They take place in two towns near each other. What do you put the chances of Ricky/Richie being a real person at? At this point, I’m like 80% sure Ricky/Richie is a real person.
But let’s say you look even more closely at those newspaper accounts and you see that those stories took place 100 years apart.
Is Ricky/Richie still real? If he’s made up, how do you explain the similarities of the stories? What if you know someone whose dad was the nurse in the second story? Someone who can say “That happened to my dad.” Someone who genuinely doesn’t seem to know of the first story.
How are both stories seemingly describing the same dude?
I don’t have a good explanation for it, but I’m going to be back on the Something’s Not Right podcast this October wondering the fuck about it. Or the analogous situation.