Behavior: Psst! Wait Till You Hear This

A scholar says rumors reveal our fears and desires

Have you heard? There's a Belgian beer that makes you impotent, the Chinese once caught President Nixon pocketing a priceless teacup, and dim-witted ecologists are renting airplanes to drop poisonous snakes on the forests of France.

Dedicated Rumormonger Jean-Noel Kapferer, 38, has heard those spurious stories and some 10,000 other tales. A Parisian academic, Kapferer, in 1984, created the Foundation for the Study of Rumors. His office, not far from the Paris Stock Exchange, runs a 24-hour hotline dedicated to collecting examples of tattle while they are still fresh. "It's very important to hear about them the instant they start," he...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!