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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Health/Medicine
Jacob Hadcock: the new Craig Shergold — 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.
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

Misdiagnosed coma patient—is he really that coherent? — 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…
Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2009.   Comments (17)

Dr. Geeta Shroff: legitimate practitioner or quack? — 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…
Posted: Sat Nov 07, 2009.   Comments (0)

The Case of the Carbolic Smoke Ball — 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…
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (3)


Healer knows all your problems before you even mention them to him — 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…
Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2009.   Comments (6)

Acupuncture Exam — DC's Improbable Science has posted a pdf file of the exam given to those studying medical acupuncture at the University of Salford. Fans of acupuncture have long been lobbying for it to get more respect from the medical community, but as the DC Science blog points out, this exam appears to be nothing but gobbledygook. Here are several of the questions that exam takers must answer:
Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2009.   Comments (14)

Man claims to be allergic to Wifi — DJ Steve Miller claims that he is allergic to Wifi. Being caught near a Wifi connection causes him agonizing pain. From the Daily Mail: The condition, known as electromagnetic sensitivity, affects two per cent of the population, and this is set to grow as more people opt for wireless internet signals. Steve navigates normal daily chores with the help of a ‘wi-fi detector’ which spots areas he should avoid. But the sensitivity has made moving house a real mission for Steve, who has…
Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2009.   Comments (14)

Another fake cancer victim — Yet another cancer hoaxer unmasked. Jonathan Jay White claimed to be a 15-year-old from Idaho suffering from Anaplastic Astrocytoma (a kind of brain cancer). He gained a lot of supporters online, including Lance Armstrong, who sent him a number of gifts. But it now appears that Jonathan Jay White never existed. Details at news.sky.com and jonthanjayisafraud.blogspot.com.
Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009.   Comments (1)

China’s Fountain of Youth — ABC News has a report on the village of Bama, "China's Fountain of youth." People there are said to live unusually long lives. Out of the population of 500, six people are over 100 years old. The locals attribute this longevity to pure water (which is "a striking blue because of low alkilinity"), simple home-grown food, and a special magnetic field. Bama has become a big tourist destination in China. Billboards promote its special powers. New hotels are being constructed there. And…
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009.   Comments (9)

Oprah, the Queen of Quackery — In the forum Captain Al linked to a recent Newsweek article that's well worth reading. It details how Oprah Winfrey has routinely promoted dubious medical/pseudoscientific nonsense on her show. It appears that the only standard of evidence important to her is whether a claim is emotionally appealing. If a claim passes that test, then it must be true! Some of the nonsense promoted on her show includes: Suzanne Somers' vitamin/hormone cure for aging. Jenny McCarthy's crusade to pin the…
Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009.   Comments (29)

Disgusting Fake Doctor — A man has been arrested in Spain for posing as a fake doctor. He was performing breast and buttock augmentations in his home, which was reported to be filthy (full of numerous pets). Plus, he was using veterinary tools to inject liquid silicone. The reason real surgeons haven't used liquid silicone since the 1960s is because it can cause discoloration, open sores, and gangrene. [metro.co.uk]
Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009.   Comments (11)

Another Cancer Hoaxer — Dallas, Texas is home to the latest case of Munchausen Syndrome. Hope Ybarra managed to raise $100,000 by convincing an entire community that she was dying of cancer. She even fooled her family. Apparently the ruse went on for years. To their credit, once her family found out she wasn't really sick they put an end to the entire thing and are offering to return everyone's money. [Yahoo! Video]
Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2009.   Comments (15)

Bottle Caps For Charity — The latest victims of the decades-old trash-for-charity hoax are the students of PS 46 in Staten Island. They were collecting plastic bottle caps in the belief that for every 1000 caps collected a child with cancer would get chemotherapy. Finally one of the students did an online search for "bottle caps" and "charity" and figured out it was a hoax. [silive.com]
Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2009.   Comments (7)

Long Hair — A Chinese doctor hasn't cut his hair in more than 60 years. He says doing so is responsible for the health of his patients. I'm sure there's a name for this logical fallacy, but I'm not sure what it is. [Daily Express (with pic of long-haired doc)]
Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009.   Comments (5)

Is it healthy to pick your nose? — If you do a search on the web for information about rhinotillexis (aka nose picking) you'll soon run across references to Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, described as an Austrian lung specialist, who is quoted as saying that nose-picking combined with nasal mucus eating is a healthy habit: "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. "And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's…
Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008.   Comments (7)

The Hypoallergenic Dog Myth — When the Obamas recently announced they were searching for a dog to have in the White House, they noted that one of the criteria was that it would need to be hypoallergenic, since Malia is allergic to dogs. The media quickly raised the possibility of a White House poodle, since poodles are supposedly a hypoallergenic breed. Skeptics have quickly pointed out that the idea of a hypoallergenic dog breed is a myth. Individuals dogs may produce less of the protein that causes the allergic…
Posted: Mon Nov 17, 2008.   Comments (9)

Fake caterpillar fungus — Chinese food inspectors have issued a warning to those planning to buy caterpillar fungus: Many samples of caterpillar fungus have been replaced by fakes. These fakes "not only miss their medicinal function, but could even be poisonous." According to Wikipedia, caterpillar fungus is one of the most prized ingredients in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine: it is used as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for a variety of ailments from fatigue to cancer. It is regarded as having…
Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008.   Comments (1)

Caps for Charity — Another case of the Collecting Junk for Charity hoax. Aleta Brace of Parkersburg, West Virginia collected 20,000 bottle caps, believing that the caps could be redeemed for money which would aid cancer patients. And she wasn't alone. Churches, schools, businesses, and individuals throughout West Virginia have been collecting the bottle caps all summer. The caps would all have gone to waste, but now the Aveda skin care company has announced it'll take the caps and recycle them into new…
Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2008.   Comments (7)

Fake Patients — The Associated Press reports that the FBI has started cracking down on a widespread insurance scam in which hospitals fill up their beds with homeless people posing as patients, and then charge government programs for the costs. Hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange counties submitted phony Medicare and Medi-Cal bills for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless patients — including drug addicts and the mentally ill — recruited from downtown's Skid Row, state and federal authorities…
Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008.   Comments (2)

An Unfortunate Accident — This news clipping has been doing the rounds: Is it true? It does have urban-legend qualities to it, but a search of LexisNexis reveals that it was widely reported in April 2002. English-language papers credited the story to the Danish newspaper BT. The surgeon was identified as Jorn Kristensen. The Sun had this line: Surgeon Jorn Kristensen said of the chain reaction: "No-one considered the possibility." So, given the specific details, I'm going to say that it appears to be true my…
Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2008.   Comments (20)

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