To work at CNET UK, you have to take the managing director out on a date and make her laugh. The rule is simple: if she don't laugh, you ain't staff.
There. That was a rumour we just started. See how easy it is? The great thing about rumours is they only need the tiniest speck of something that sounds like truth to be credible, and if they're proven wrong -- hey, there'll be another one along in a minute.
We've picked eight stonkers from tech history that teased and twisted the minutest grains of plausibility into epic tales of technological wonder and horror. We begin with a story that proves that there are limits to the pestering power of children.
The hoverboards from Back to the Future II are real. Mattel makes them, and the film's director Robert Zemeckis confirms they were just so dangerous they had to be kept out of the shops. Kids were desperate to get their hands on them back in the 80s. Ourselves included.
Problem was, it was all an enormous rumour spurred on by Zemeckis, who was growing tired of having to explain how he developed the hoverboard effect in the movie. But for years school playgrounds buzzed with the hopeful voices of kids firmly convinced the whooshy boards were real, and that it was just a matter of convincing shops to start stocking them. Awww.
"Are we all going to die next Wednesday?" asked the Daily Mail. It was one of a plethora of similar headlines chosen by the world's newspapers prior to the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland last year. The LHC was going to kill us all and the very fabric of time itself would crumble.
To be fair, the LHC still hasn't been properly switched on. But even when it does, it will not kill us all. We dragged the utterly charming physicist Dr Pamela Gay into our podcast studio to explain why this rumour is utter male cow waste. Of course, it won't stop the tabloids making a massive deal about the enormous circular contraption when it finally does get fired up. Just do yourself a favour and ignore them.
At the turn of the 20th century, Royal Society physicist Lord Kelvin made the remarkable statement that he believed the discovery of X-rays to be "a hoax". From any munchkin in the street this could be dismissed as drunken babble. But Lord Kelvin had a respectable track record of saying some pretty clever stuff.
The rumoured fallacy of the X-ray discovery obviously went nowhere. In fact we can now explore the universe beyond X-rays, imaging cosmic objects with gamma rays as well. Interestingly, Lord Kelvin also famously claimed research into aeroplanes was a duff idea, believing no such craft would ever be "practically successful". To his credit, he apparently later retracted his criticism of X-rays and even had his hand X-rayed (thanks to a reader for pointing this out). Hey: we're all wrong sometimes.
In the 1980s, the record labels were adamant: "Taping music from friends' collections will kill the music industry!" they screeched. The low cost of cassettes, combined with the relative ease of copying music from other sources, worked the execs of the world's major labels into a well-paid panic.
Tapes didn't kill the music industry, as you may have noticed. But today the same lather surrounds illegal file-sharing on the Internet. The only reason the music industry is in a position to worry about file-sharing is because the rumour it started in the 80s was nonsense -- cassettes didn't kill music any more than VHS killed the movie industry.