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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Health/Medicine
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inspectors have issued a warning to those planning to buy caterpillar fungus: Many samples of caterpillar fungus have been replaced by fakes.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)

A Degloving Injury — Warning: Don't look at these pictures if you're squeamish. Picture 1, Picture 2. They're the latest stomach-turners circulating around the internet. You've been warned! But if you think you can handle it, the pictures are interesting from an anatomical perspective. They show a "degloved" finger. A woman, while drunk, snagged her ring on a spiked fence, thereby peeling the skin off her finger. Her friends had the presence of mind to put the 'finger glove' in a glass of water and take…
Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2008.   Comments (8)

Woman discovers husband isn’t a doctor — Tammi Parteet was worried since she hadn't heard from her husband. So she decided to call him at Piedmont Hospital, where he worked as a doctor. WSBTV.com relates what happened next: She called him on his Piedmont cell phone, the one he told her was for emergencies. A staff member picked up. "I said, 'I'm trying to locate my husband, Dr. Perteet.' And she said, 'Dr. who? We don't have a Dr. Perteet.' And she says, 'Are you talking about the guy that had this cell phone?' And I said…
Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2008.   Comments (9)

FairDeal Homeopathy — FairDeal Homeopathy promises it won't lie to its customers. They only guarantee that their remedies are "as effective as all other homeopathic remedies." They also won't promise that their products can help you if you're ill. Although they do note that if you believe in their remedies they might help, because of the placebo effect. But they caution that if you're "actually ill" you shouldn't expect their products to cure you. "Homeopathy of any sort," they note, "is not a medical…
Posted: Sat May 10, 2008.   Comments (10)

Who authors drug studies? — A disturbing article in the most recent issue of JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) suggests that the practice of ghostwriting medical studies is widespread. How it works is that a big drug company writes a study touting the merits of its latest drug. Then the company hands off the study to a prestigious researcher who agrees to be listed as the author. This adds a veneer of scientific credibility to what is basically corporate propaganda. The dupes in this entire…
Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2008.   Comments (15)

Malawi Ousts Fake AIDS Healers — Lawmakers in Malawi have decided to crack dawn on quacks peddling phony cures for AIDS. The "cures" generally involve having sex with a virgin, an albino, or a disabled person. The legislation is only in draft form right now, but if passed it will require traditional healers to register with the health ministry. I'll have to ask my sister what she knows about this, since she's been in Malawi for the past four years working on promoting AIDS education. That's why I visited Malawi last…
Posted: Sun Mar 09, 2008.   Comments (9)

Viagra-Inspired Food — Trifter.com has collected examples of foods that have either been made to look like Viagra, or have been renamed after it. The list includes Viagra Gelato, Viagra ice cream, Viagra spam mousse, Viagra cake, and Viagra musubi. The Viagra spam mousse seems particularly appropriate, since the drug is such a favorite topic of spammers.
Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2008.   Comments (2)

Obay — Recently strange ads for a drug called "Obay" began appearing around Toronto. The ads were pretty obviously satirical, but who was responsible for them? The Church of Scientology was an early suspect, since they're well known for their anti-psychiatry stance. But it turned out they had nothing to do with the ad campaign. The Torontoist tracked down the real culprit. It's an advocacy group called Colleges Ontario, which represents twenty-four colleges in Ontario. The Torontoist writes:
Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008.   Comments (7)

Woman claims to be 120 — Mariam Amash, who lives in the village of Jisr a-Zarka in Israel, claims that she is 120 years old. Her claim recently surfaced when she applied for a new Israeli identity card. She might be telling the truth. Apparently she has a birth certificate issued by Turkish authorities, who ruled Jisr a-Zarka back in 1888 when Amash says she was born. She also has eleven children, the eldest one being in her late 80s. So assuming that her children aren't lying about their ages, Amash would…
Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2008.   Comments (2)

Real-Life Kidney Thieves — A kidney transplant ring has been busted in India. Hundreds of poor people were forced into having their kidneys removed. ABC News reports that victims were promised a job, then taken to a private house and forced at gunpoint to sell their kidneys. One victim's story sounds just like the kidney-transplant urban legend: "I was approached by a stranger for a job. When I accepted, I was taken to a room with gunmen," Mohammed Salim told India's local NDTV television channel. "They tested…
Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2008.   Comments (4)

Huffing Hand Sanitizer — A 14-year-old student at Killian Middle School in Lewisville picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his reading teacher, rubbed the gel on his hands, and then smelled it. According to the teacher, he "inhaled heavily." The student said he sniffed it because it "smelled good." But the school authorities claimed he sniffed it because he was trying to get high. They gave him an in-school suspension, and then proceeded to file criminal charges against him. WFAA.com reports:
Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2008.   Comments (22)

Prank Call Leads to Electric Shock Treatment — Prank phone calls and electric-shock gadgets are perennial favorites of pranksters. So I guess what happened at the Judge Rotenberg Education Center was just a novel combination of the two: Call up and order electric-shock treatment for someone. It's actually kind of scary to think that it's that easy to order treatment for a patient. Boston Herald reports: State officials are investigating complaints that staff at the Judge Rotenberg Education Center gave three people — including two…
Posted: Tue Dec 18, 2007.   Comments (2)

Quick Links: Nov. 27, 2007 — Ocean's 11 Conman "It was one of the most audacious jewel thefts in history. In the middle of a crowded room, the famed Star of the Empress Sisi was stolen from its high-security case and replaced with a replica." (Thanks, Joe) Turkey Mystery Turkeys mysteriously show up in a town, and then wander away. "After entertaining residents of Harborview Drive on Thanksgiving morning, 15 turkeys departed - in single file - about 1 p.m. Thursday and have not been seen since, residents said…
Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007.   Comments (4)

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