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Today's Featured Topic:
Hoaxes of Joseph Mulhattan
Fecal Tongs — Okay, this is gross, but what else would you expect from a web hoax? It's some guy's collection of fecal tongs. Personally, I've never heard of such a thing as a fecal tong before. They look like just regular tongs to me. In fact, I would say that this site is actually just a collection of pictures of tongs, (so it's quite safe for work, unless your boss would object to the word 'fecal') which this guy has managed to spin a wild story around.
Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2003.   Comments (1)

The 1938 Panic Broadcast Revisited — The Toronto Star has an article about the 1938 War of the Worlds panic (the anniversary of which is today)... and they quote me in it! The article argues that the mass panic was much smaller than is popularly thought. I'm inclined to agree with this. My reasons are: being familiar with the way in which stories about hoaxes are told, I know that the impact hoaxes make is often exaggerated in order to tell a better story. So it sounds a lot more dramatic to say that one million people…
Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2003.   Comments (0)

Student Seeking Help — A student from Dunwoody Highschool in Dunwoody, Georgia sent me a note through the form on my comments page asking for help with a science fair project about gullibility. Unfortunately this student didn't include their return email address, so I don't know how to contact them. So hey, if you're the student who contacted me and you're reading this, send me another email, but remember to include a return address.
Posted: Thu Oct 30, 2003.   Comments (1)

Fire Scene — Here's a very cool picture of one of the San Diego fires. For a second I actually thought it was fake because it seemed weird that traffic was heading right into the fire. Plus the time stamp looked odd (it's stamped October 28, even though the picture was posted on the 27th, and the woman who posted it says it was taken on the 26th... maybe their camera has the wrong date). I thought maybe someone had pasted the bottom scene of the traffic together with the top scene of the smoke. But…
Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003.   Comments (1)


Plane Meets Truck — I received this image from 'Detective Kid' who wants to know if it's real or fake. I've been checking it out and can't see anything obviously fake about it. The picture has a watermark on it, that I can't read. It's something like 'erzool.com.' If anyone knows anything about the picture, let me know. UPDATE: A solution to this photo comes from Jeffrey Schuh: "This photo is a national geographic photograph. The photo has been republished in 'The Photographs' coffee table book. (The…
Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003.   Comments (3)

Vampire Sites — Here's a couple of vampire-themed websites sent in by visitors. First we have the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency. According to the blurb on the site, "From 1868 to 1975, the Federal Vampire & Zombie Agency (FVZA) was responsible for controlling the nation's vampire and zombie populations while overseeing scientific research into the undead. This site is a tribute to the men and women who served in the FVZA, especially the over 4000 Agents who lost their lives fighting to keep our…
Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003.   Comments (2641)

Talk of the Nation — Just found out that I'm going to be on NPR's Talk of the Nation tomorrow. They're doing something about the 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast (the 'panic broadcast') and are having me on as the hoax expert to comment. Good timing, since the paperback version of my book is also coming out this week. Hopefully it'll provide some publicity.
Posted: Wed Oct 29, 2003.   Comments (0)

San Diego Fire — Just got back from New Mexico where I had been invited to speak at a conference about "Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias." I gave a talk about Internet Hoaxes. Getting back was a nightmare. Almost all the flights into Southern California had been cancelled, but I was lucky enough to get rebooked onto a small propeller plane that was flying into the tiny Carlsbad airport. Flew right over the fires, which was an eerie sight... a thin line of flame stretching from horizon to horizon. Here and…
Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2003.   Comments (0)

Mint Rubbing — Check out the wonders of the Romanian Mint Rubbing Association. (Thanks to t.m.Enzo for the link).
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2003.   Comments (1)

How to Ride a Broomstick — Here's an interesting item sent to me by Geoduck, just in time for Halloween. Apparently a rumor has been going around suggesting that the image of witches flying on broomsticks, with the brush behind them, is wrong. Back in the old days witches always flew holding the brush in front of them. It was only in modern times, as we came to understand aerodynamics, that we flipped the broom around. This rumor can be traced back to Kevin Carlyon, a self-proclaimed Witch King. But this website,…
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2003.   Comments (2)

AMD Crop Circles — Last month Advanced Micro Devices debuted its new 64-bit micro processor. Apparently it helped promote the launch of this new processor by hiring a group of crop-circle experts to create circles throughout the UK and America. Pictures of their efforts can be seen here (Thanks to Geoduck for the link).
Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2003.   Comments (0)

Apple Promotes Ancient Greek — Here's an odd hoax, brought to my attention by Patrick Georges who lives up the road from me in Carlsbad. It appears that a message has been circulating amongst the Greek community, suggesting that Apple Computer has created a program to teach Ancient Greek online. This program will be hosted by CNN on a page titled Hellenic Quest. The text of this message can be read at the GrecoReport website. The supposed logic behind this move is that learning Ancient Greek promotes creativity and…
Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2003.   Comments (0)

Pareidolia Collection — A very extensive collection of Pareidolia data has been collected by a guy calling himself The Folklorist. Pareidolia, in case you don't remember this word from high-school english class, is the phenomenon of seeing meaningful images in random patterns. Examples would include seeing the number 666 on the wall of the Alamo, seeing the figure of the Virgin Mary in the window of a Boston hospital, or seeing the head of an Indian chief in your door.
Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2003.   Comments (0)

Marry Your Pet — Do you really, really love your pet? Then why not marry him or her? Go to MarryYourPet.com, and you can make it happen. Of course, the marriage isn't recognized by a court of law, which makes it somewhat of a hoax, but they really will sell you a marriage certificate, an 'I married my pet' T-shirt, or a wall plaque. They're all incredibly overpriced. If they offered the certificate for $5 instead of $20, they probably would do more business. They're trying to sell the wall plaque for…
Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2003.   Comments (4)

Clooney Gets Kaycee Nicoled — While I was gone, George Clooney apparently got conned by a woman who told him that her daughter, Cindy, had cancer. When Clooney offered to visit, he got a call from the mother telling him that Cindy had died. Evidently Cindy had never existed. She was just a ploy on the woman's part to get Clooney's attention. Somewhat parallel to the Kaycee Nicole Simpson case.
Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2003.   Comments (0)

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