Rumor Clinics

In a short article Viennese artist Andrea van der Straeten researches the history of American Rumor Clinics.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor which set off a wide diversity of rumors and fears in America, the first-ever medical operation in the area of communications was carried out: The Rumor Clinic -a place where communication that has gone out of control is to be patched together and “cured”- was opened in Boston in March 1942.
When WO II ended the clinics were shut and the concept seemed forgotten. But the racial tensions of the 60’s that lead to the murder of Martin Luther King made it advisable to employ both new and proven methods of fighting rumors: In July 1967, the first Rumor Central was opened in Chicago, on the model of the previous rumor clinics.The Clinics used newspapers as a medium: colums were published to correct false rumors, the new Central swapped printed matter for the more contemporary means of telecommunications.

The question rises where the once numerous publications of sociological and psychological research on the effect of rumors have gone to, now that we most need them. The standardworks date back to shortly after the second world war and are hardly applicable to the global establishment of Net culture. Since the nineties another focus has become clear: rumor as an event and strategy in communicative processes, rumor as a “medium”.
Read article published in Springerin #4/ 01 Rumor Clinics | Andrea van der Straeten