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Home --> Science --> Statistics --> Spiders Inside Her

Spiders Inside Her

Claim:   The average person swallows eight spiders per year.

Status:   False.

Origins:   Oh, yuk! Spider It's hard enough to avoid those horrible wriggly things while we're awake, and now we have to worry that they're crawling into our mouths while we sleep? Little Miss Muffett was a piker.

Fear not. This "statistic" was not only made up out of whole cloth, it was invented as an example of the absurd things people will believe simply because they come across them on the Internet.

In a 1993 PC Professional article, columnist Lisa Holst wrote about the ubiquitous lists of "facts" that were circulating via e-mail and how readily they were accepted as truthful by gullible recipients. To demonstrate her point, Holst offered her own made-up list of equally ridiculous "facts," among which was the statistic cited above about the average person's swallowing eight spiders per year, which she took from a collection of common misbeliefs printed in a 1954 book on insect folklore. In a delicious irony, Holst's propagation of this false "fact" has spurred it into becoming one of the most widely-circulated bits of misinformation to be found on the Internet.

Last updated:   21 July 2007

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2014 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.
 
  Sources Sources:
    Clausen, Lucy W.   Insect Fact and Folklore.
    New York: Collier Books, 1954   (p. 24)

    Domke, Ellen.   "Average Folks Need to Keep Mouths Shut."
    Chicago Sun-Times.   26 August 1997   (p. 20).

    Holst, Lisa Birgit.   "Reading Is Believing."
    PC Professional.   7 January 1993   (p. 71).