The Hoax Museum Blog
128-year-old man tries to get health insurance
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 27, 2012
Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports that Mzee Julius Wanyondu is having trouble getting coverage under the National Hospital Insurance Fund. The reason is that he's 128 years old, having been born in 1884. However, the NHIF's computers will only accept birthdates later than 1890. Remarkably, the article doesn't address the obvious question: Does this guy have any proof that he's really 128? He has some kind of ID card that displays 1884 as his birthdate. But what evidence did he present to get this card? The article says that Mzee Wanyondu has a son who's 70. Based on that, I'd say it's likely that he's in his 90s. Or maybe slightly over 100.…
Can a bar of soap between your sheets ease muscle cramps?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 21, 2012
Virginia news station WSLS 10 recently ran a 'myth buster' segment on whether putting a bar of soap between your sheets can ease nighttime leg and foot cramps. To my surprise, they concluded that, yes, a bar of soap does seem to help some people, even though there is "no scientific evidence" for why this would work. Just to clarify, the claim is that merely having a bar of soap near your muscles at night can stop them from cramping. The brand of soap doesn't seem to matter much, though some people express individual preferences. (Irish Spring is a favorite.) The soap should also be in close proximity to the cramping muscle.…
The Fix-a-Flat Faker
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 27, 2012
When a doctor starts injecting bathroom caulk into your buttocks, I think that's a good sign he/she isn't entirely on the up-and-up. Fake Fix-a-Flat nurse arrested, charged with manslaughter in Fla. client’s death bradenton.com BROWARD — Oneal Morris, the transgender woman charged in two counties with injecting people seeking fuller figures with a toxic concoction which included Fix-a-Flat, on Thursday was charged with manslaughter in the death of a Broward County client. Morris, 32, of Hollywood, has been charged in the death of Shatarka Nuby, 31, of Tamarac... According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Nuby had paid Morris, known as The Duchess, hundreds of dollars to inject her at her home with…
Esoteric Breast Massage
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 23, 2012
Serge Benhayon is the creator of "Esoteric Breast Massage" (EBM). He describes this as a healing technique that offers many benefits, such as possibly preventing cancer. Serge Benhayon Despite what you may be thinking, EBM is not just an excuse for him to massage lots of women's breasts. Far from it. In fact, he never does the massaging. He emphasizes that only women can perform EBM on other women. This made it a little awkward for him to teach the technique, back when he was the only person who knew how to do it. From an interview in Spa Australasia magazine (pdf): I have never performed an…
Samuel Shepherd: the 125-year-old Man
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 09, 2012
Samuel "Old Uncle Sam" Shepherd had a hard but interesting life. He was a slave who managed to buy his freedom, and lived on until 1909. But it's his birthdate that generates more interest than the date of his death. His grave marker in Oak Hill Cemetery (Lawrence, Kansas) lists his birthdate as 1784. This would make him 125 years old when he died. If true, he would potentially be the oldest person ever to have lived. According to wikipedia, Jeanne Calment of France holds the record for the oldest unambiguously documented human lifespan. She died at the age of 122 in 1997. Christian Mortensen, who…
Exam-weary students in China receive amino-acid infusions
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2012
A strange series of photos has recently been circulating online showing an entire classroom full of high school students in China hooked up to IV drips. Apparently the students aren't sick. Instead, they're exhausted from cramming for the upcoming National College Entrance Exam (Gao Kao). So they're all being given supplemental amino acids via IV drip. And this is something the Chinese government is willing to pay for. Links: ministryoftofu.com, globaltimes.cn, businessinsider.com. I haven't found anything to indicate that the scene shown in the pictures isn't exactly what it's being described as. And Chinese officials, in interviews, seem to have confirmed that this is what's going…
Woman dies after trying to live on sunlight alone
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 26, 2012
The NY Daily News is reporting (via the Tages-Anzeiger) that a Swiss woman died after deciding to embrace the philosophy of breatharianism and live on sunlight alone: Swiss woman dies after attempting to live on sunlight; Woman gave up food and water on spiritual journey nydailynews.com The Zurich newspaper reported Wednesday that the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years. Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia. The prosecutors' office in the Swiss canton (state) of Aargau confirmed…
Baby Yoga, or Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 09, 2012
Infant learning and development is a field full of dubious theories, because there are so many desperate parents willing to try anything that might give their kids a slight edge-up in life. So the stage is set for Baby Yoga, aka "dynamic baby gymnastics," aka 'swinging your baby around your head.' Its practitioners claim that if you're not doing this, then you're depriving your child of an important developmental opportunity. Check out the video below which shows Elena Fokina demonstrating some Baby Yoga moves. Warning: if the sight of kids being swung energetically around might disturb you, then you probably want to skip the video. Previous videos of Baby Yoga posted on youtube have been banned…
The Great Banana Smoking Hoax of 1967
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 23, 2012
Brooke Kroeger and Cary Abrams have an article in the Local East Village analyzing the Great Banana-Smoking Hoax of 1967 -- in which a rumor spread alleging that you could get high by smoking bananas. Or rather, get high by smoking "bananadine," created by scraping the inside of a banana peel, boiling the residue, then drying out the residue and rolling it into a joint. They try to get to the bottom of who started the rumor. One contender is the staff of the East Village Other magazine. Another theory has the singer Donovan as the instigator, through his song Mellow Yellow. Or perhaps it was the singer Country Joe.
Are there more doctors from Malawi in Manchester than in Malawi?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 16, 2012
Charlotte McDonald of the BBC News debunks a persistent rumor that there are more doctors from Malawi in Manchester than there are in Malawi itself. Apparently the rumor has been repeated by a variety of sources including "the authors of an international study of health workers, and the head of Malawi's main nursing union." However, the rumor isn't true. She estimates there are approximately 265 doctors in Malawi (which isn't a whole lot for a country of 15 million), but there are only 7 Malawian doctors in Manchester, which has a population of half-a-million. Even if you look at the ratio of doctors to people, Malawi wins out. There's one doctor for every…
Jacob Hadcock: the new Craig Shergold
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 17, 2009
The Craig Shergold rumor strikes again. Jacob is a real kid, and he really has leukemia, but he isn't dying. But somehow word got out on the internet that he was dying, and that his last wish was to get christmas cards from everyone. So now the cards are pouring in by the thousands. Link: Associated Press. Below is one of the youtube videos spreading the rumor.
Misdiagnosed coma patient—is he really that coherent?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 25, 2009
The Belgian man believed to be in a coma for 23 years, but recently found to be conscious, has been big news for the past few days. But now problems are emerging with the story. No one doubts that he's sentient, since MRI scans have confirmed this. But his ability to communicate is being questioned. Skeptics are questioning whether the statements attributed to him really are his, or do they come from his "facilitator" (a woman who holds his hand to help him type on a keyboard)? Doctors are also questioning how someone could be so profoundly isolated for so long, and yet still be so sane and coherent. From Wired.com:
Dr. Geeta Shroff: legitimate practitioner or quack?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Nov 07, 2009
Indian doctor Geeta Shroff is claiming to have helped many patients, thought incurable, by injecting them with embryonic stem cells. However, she hasn't submitted any of her work to scientific review, leading to suspicions that something fishy is going on. From timesonline.co.uk: Dr Shroff has refused to publish her research and to submit it to peer review — a practise regarded widely as a cornerstone of good science. Instead, she has patented her technique, a route more familiar in business than medicine. Doctors say that without safety trials and randomised clinical studies, her treatments are unverifiable and potentially dangerous. There has been no research published, for instance, to rule out placebo effects. “If…
The Case of the Carbolic Smoke Ball
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 06, 2009
Clive Coleman tells the story for BBC Radio 4 of the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. It was an 1892 case of fraudulent advertising. The case against them is "seen by some as the birth of modern consumer protection": The carbolic smoke ball was a peculiar device marketed as a cure for various ailments including influenza. It consisted of a rubber ball, filled with powdered carbolic acid. You squeezed the ball sending a puff of acidic smoke right up a tube inserted into your nose. The idea was that your nose would run…
Healer knows all your problems before you even mention them to him
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 08, 2009
The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa has determined that Dr. Abdallah Kiwa has been "'duping' people into paying for services that cannot possibly be delivered." Specifically, Kiwa has distributed advertising pamphlets in which he has made the following claims: • ENSURES SUCCESS AS YOU GET RICH QUICKLY • BRING BACK LOST LOVER… • REMOVE BAD SPELLS FROM HOMES, BUSINESS ECT • ENSURES THAT PROMOTION YOU HAVE DESIRED FOR A LONG TIME AT WORK OR IN YOUR CAREER. • REMOVE BLACK SPOTS THAT KEEP TAKING YOUR MONEY AWAY • FIND OUT…