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Edited in part by three members of the Psychology Department, the "Rumor Clinic," a column appearing in the Boston Traveler, is aimed not so much at disproving all the rumors that come along, which would obviously be an impossible task, but more at making the public rumor conscious, according to Robert H. Knapp, teaching fellow in Psychology, one of the editors himself.
"Rumors are sent in by mail to the paper," Knapp said, "and we select and disprove a certain number each day. Of course there are many we can't handle," he pointed out, "such as stories about the Army and the Navy, and other matters that are supposed to be secret. We have scores of tales, for instance," he said, "about the whereabouts and the use of the Queen Mary, but we haven't followed any of them up."
At the beginning of the war, Knapp revealed, many of the rumors were of the so-called "wishful" type, optimistic stories that Hitler would die within a year, that Germany would be defeated, and a hundred and one other topics that people wanted to hear.
"Now that we are in the war and have suffered defeats, the rumors are more of the 'wedge-driving' type," Knapp revealed. "I mean by this," he explained, "that they try to create dissension among people by attacking the Jews, the Negroes, or some other minority group. They appeal to people who are anti-British, or anti-adminstration, in an effort to break the unity of the country."
Probably only a small percentage of them are inspired by the Axis, Knapp said. The majority of them rise from the frustration of a people who are determined to fight a war with all possible effectiveness, but have not the material, at the present time, to take as active a part as they would like.
This type of rumor arises from the same sort of frustration as happens when a man, bawled out by his boss, goes home and basis out his wife for no reason at all, Knapp explained.
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