Re: legend of Greyfriar's Bobby

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 27 Jan 2006 - 03:48:39 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Xanadu meme, a case study (Ted Nelson)"

    >From: Kate Distin <>
    >Subject: Re: legend of Greyfriar's Bobby
    >Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 16:18:49 +0000
    >Scott Chase wrote:
    >>>From: "Price, Ilfryn" <>
    >>>To: <>
    >>>Subject: RE: legend of Greyfriar's Bobby
    >>>Date: Thu, 26 Jan 2006 14:23:34 -0000
    >>> > I tried snopes with no luck using "greyfriar", "greyfriar's", and
    >>> > as
    >>> > keywords. "terrier" produces some hits but not anything to do with the
    >>> > "Greyfriar's Bobby" legend. I wonder how much truth is in the legend.
    >>> > there anything to the story that got it started and perhaps
    >>>embellished a
    >>> > bit?
    >>>466 for "Greyfriars Bobby" snopes
    >>Did you analyze any of those hits for content? One of the first I saw was:
    >>Which is an informal discussion board where Greyfriar's Bobby is mentioned
    >>in passing as similar to the topic being discussed. The person expressed
    >>some reservations about the legend, but this hardly qualifies as a formal
    >>snopes debunking of an urban legend. I tried finding reference to the
    >>legend on itself using their search option and had no luck. I
    >>have respect for snopes as being authoritative on urban legends, so if
    >>they have actually address the "Greyfriar's Bobby" legend, I would respect
    >>that. Are any of those 400+ hits relevant to the legend's veracity or just
    >>incidental keyword overlaps? Finding 400+ hits on a search engine means
    >>nothing without actually reading what is said in the content of those
    >Google results seem to converge on the understanding that the story is an
    >embellishment of a more mundane original set of facts. Apparently there
    >was a 1989 book by Forbes MacGregor, "Greyfriars Bobby the truth at last"
    >which explores this and claims that Bobby belonged to a policeman who
    >guarded the cattle mart; that he was reluctant to leave his master's
    >graveside at first; that he didn't actually stay faithfully by the
    >graveside but did live locally until his death many years later; and that
    >the churchyard was also a favourite local haunt for dogs.
    >Which would make sense memetically, I suppose - we do love a good story but
    >there may have been enough original details to grab attention in the first
    >place. Then the story evolved.
    Thanks Kate. I'm awaiting the arrival of this MacGregor book to check out at the library (and the DVD of the 1961 movie too). Regaardless of the level of truth, the story grabbed me, a reaction in itself that is just as important as whether the legend has much factual basis. LeDoux, one of the neuroscientist authors I've cited recently, studies emotion as it is centered in the brain, which has been somewhat neglected by cognitive psychology, though LeDoux and Damasio have offered popularizations. Emotion may have some relevance for memetics, given how the emotional impact of stories seems to influence the way they are told and how they spread through culture.

    There's a relatively popular book called _A Child Called It_, by Dave Pelzer that has a serious emotional impact on the reader. Pelzer's second book
    _The Lost Boy_ (?) was the first book of the series I listened to and it grabbed me because of the emotional impact. The popularity of Pelzer's series may have waned a bit over the past couple years. If I'm not mistaken, he appeared on Oprah quite a while ago, which may account for the past popularity of his books. The recent controversy over one of Oprah's picks
    (Frey's _A Million Little Pieces_) aside, an author being mentioned on her show can't hurt their career. Just look at Dr. Phil.

    Our own Richard Brodie appeared on Oprah before, which probably helped his book, plus gave memetics some popular exposure. I can't recall Brodie's book grabbing me emotionally though, but it had some interesting intellectual points. I digress.

    I guess we should be MRI scanning Oprah's brain when she reads a book, because if a story grabs her emotionally or intellectually, it will definitely become well known in a matter of months. She's done for adults what the Harry Potter series has done for kids.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri 27 Jan 2006 - 04:10:30 GMT