Examples of flimflam mail order products confiscated by U.S. Postal Inspectors during the 1980s.
From the history of misleading advertising: In 1941, the Doughnut Corporation of America came out with "Vitamin Donuts," hoping the product would earn a seal of approval from the Nutrition Division of the War Food Administration. No dice, said the War Food Administration, because it was only the flour that was enriched with vitamins, not the entire donut. They suggested the name "Enriched Flour Donuts" as an alternative, but the Doughnut Corporation didn't think this sounded appetizing, so they dropped the product entirely. Incidentally, the flour in modern donuts has far more vitamins in it than the flour in Vitamin Donuts did. more…
A viral video shows what appears to be a horse flying in the sky over Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Some say it's the Buraq, the legendary flying horse that transported the prophet Muhammad. Others say it's the black horse prophesied in the Book of Revelation. Still others say it's a helium-filled balloon.
Russian state TV, Rossiya-1, has been warning viewers of the moral decadence of the West by airing news footage that shows an American father indoctrinating his child into homosexuality by covering the kid's bedroom wall with gay pornography. However, the footage is obviously fake. It originally came from a sports paraphernalia company, Fathead, and showed a father surprising his son by decorating his wall with a massive photo of a monster truck. The footage was then altered by 4chan users to replace the monster truck with gay pornography. It seems clear that this is not a case of satire mistaken as news. It's a case of willful misrepresentation of satire for the sake of propaganda. [vox.com]
Determined to maintain a relationship with Liam Griffiths, with whom she had a one-night stand, Charmaine Wilson presented him with a child, telling him it was his. A birth certificate and DNA test seemed to back up her claim. So Griffiths did what he thought was the right thing and took responsibility for the child, only to find out six months later that it was all an elaborate deception. Wilson had "borrowed" the child from a friend and used her position at a hospital to forge the birth certificate and DNA test results. Wilson, who said it was "a lie that snowballed out of control," was sentenced to serve 16 weeks in jail, but was released after 23 days on condition that she take a "thinking skills" class to help her realize the effect her actions had on Griffiths and his family. [Daily Mail]
In his 1930s newspaper column, John Harvey Furbay (aka The Debunker) wrote that it was a myth that all dogs can bark. But was he correct?
A video has gone viral that shows a bear chasing a cyclist through a forest. The video seems realistic when you first view it. But if you slow it down and watch it frame by frame, it starts to look a lot less convincing. more…
"Historians point out that there is a great deal of difference between pilgrim and puritan, which many people use interchangeably, supposing them to be the same thing. The Puritans were a religious order that arose in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. They were the strictest among the Church of England. The Pilgrims split off from this sect and refused to follow the Church of England -- thus they were no longer puritans. In fact, they were not as strict as the old puritans, but were quite liberal in comparison with them."
BBC News tells the story (briefly, but with good pictures) of this famous kidnapping hoax from the 1920s. Note that McPherson claimed she was drugged with a chloroform-soaked rag and then abducted. This alone suggests her story was bogus since, as Wikipedia notes, the chloroform-soaked rag as an incapacitating agent is a cliche of crime fiction. The reality is that it's very difficult to drug someone in this way with chloroform.
It says here that in a recently aired BBC documentary, The Real Tom Thumb, historian John Gannon argues that Tom Thumb's baby may not have been a hoax, even though Tom Thumb's wife Lavinia confessed it was a hoax in her autobiography.
The tale of the chloroformed turkey usually involves two women living in the city who decide to get a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas. But after the turkey has been delivered to their door, they realize they need to kill it. Unwilling to tell the local butcher that they're too squeamish to cut off its head themselves, they search for a "humane" way of ending the bird's life, and come up with the idea of using chloroform. more…
It took me a while to see it, but once you see it, you can't unsee it. The question is: is this a purposeful illusion, or an accidental one? more…
Residents of Polk City, Iowa noticed that a tree standing beside a busy intersection (3rd St and Bridge Rd) had on its side a six-foot tall mark that looks like the Virgin Mary. However, some people think the marks looks more like Jesus. Once it had been noticed (and the mark had likely been there for years unnoticed), people began leaving flowers at the base of it. [kcci.com]
Ernesto Hernandez of Pennsylvania was about to eat his dinner, prepared by his wife, when he noticed that one of the pieces of breaded chicken on his plate seemed to have an image of Jesus on it. Although professing not to be very religious, he did tell the local TV news (WNEP in Scranton, PA) that seeing Christ's face on his plate "kind of took me back a minute." He also felt that it was some kind of sign. He put the piece of Jesus chicken in the refrigerator where, by the next day, it had shrunk in size.
Word is that a new film about P.T. Barnum is in the works. It'll be a musical, titled "The Greatest Showman on Earth," starring Hugh Jackman as Barnum. Kathy Maher, curator of the P.T. Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, told the Hartford Courant that the film company contacted her four years ago when the project first started, but she hasn't heard anything from them since. She adds, "they said they would be on touch as soon as the project got on the grid... Hopefully they'll get the story right and not go for the mythology." Hmmm. What are the odds of that happening?