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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Health/Medicine
Fake Smiles May Cause Depression — Status: Medical study New research by Dr. Dieter Zapf of Frankfurt University suggests that workers who constantly have to pretend to be friendly to customers suffer from higher rates of depression and illness. The Advertiser reports: Flight attendants, sales personnel and call centre operators are most at risk, say psychologists at Frankfurt University. People in these jobs are more likely to suffer from depression, according to the study released yesterday ahead of publication in…
Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2006.   Comments (23)

The Price of Fake Sick Notes — Status: News article I'm hesitant to post this, remembering that the last time I posted about fake doctor's notes I ended up with hundreds of comments from people asking me to provide them with fake notes. But here goes anyway. The Shanghai Daily has an interesting short article about the economics of the fake-sick-note industry in China. Apparently sellers of fake doctor's notes can be found outside of many Shanghai hospitals: The price depends on the type of disease and duration of…
Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2006.   Comments (53)

Is Lip Balm Addictive? — Status: Undetermined There's an old urban legend that states that the makers of lip balm (Carmex, specifically), add ground-up fiberglass to their product. The glass irritates people's lips, causing them to feel like they need to apply the balm again and again. There's another urban legend that states that lip balm interferes with the moisture sensors in the lips, causing lips to become dry and requiring more lip balm to be applied. Neither of these urban legends is true. Carmex debunks…
Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006.   Comments (21)

Head-Lice Lotion Scam — Status: Medical Scam Dr. Dale Pearlman has admitted that the head-lice treatment he was selling for $285 is really a commercial skin cleanser, Cetaphil, that could be bought over-the-counter for $10: Dr. Dale Pearlman got widespread media attention and skepticism from some head-lice specialists last year when the journal Pediatrics published his study detailing results with a product he called Nuvo lotion. He described it as a "dry-on suffocation-based pediculicide" and the first in a…
Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2005.   Comments (8)


Glitter Lung — Status: Satire mistaken as news Last week The Onion ran a story reporting that increasing numbers of elementary-school art teachers are coming down with "glitter lung" (aka pneumosparklyosis), a disease caused by inhaling too much glitter. "When art teachers spend so much time in confined quarters with inadequate ventilation amid swirling clouds of glitter, it's only a matter of time before their lungs start to suffer negative effects," said Dr. Linda Norr, a specialist in…
Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005.   Comments (16)

Magneurol-S6: The ESP Pill — Status: Snake Oil The makers of MagneurolS·6 promise that this little pill has some remarkable properties. It will give you "the ability to plug into Earths complex magnetic fields" thereby enhancing your extra-sensory perception and psychic abilities. Of course, never mind that its ingredients are nothing that you can't find in any vitamin supplement costing far less than $49 a bottle. You won't care about such trivial matters once your sixth sense (S·6) has been awakened. One…
Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005.   Comments (63)

Fake Cavities — Status: Scary scam An Indiana dentist has been charged with diagnosing patients with cavities that didn't exist. This is the kind of thing that feeds the popular paranoia about dentists: The attorney general's office said Dunlap diagnosed three patients with cavities, but the patients sought second opinions and were found to be cavity-free. State officials said Dunlap diagnosed a child with 10 cavities in June, but another dentist found that the child did not have any cavities. A…
Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2005.   Comments (44)

Panexa — Status: Parody Panexa is a drug you need to take, no matter what may, or may not be, wrong with you. As the Panexa site states: No matter what you do or where you go, you're always going to be yourself. And Panexa knows this. Your lifestyle is one of the biggest factors in choosing how to live. Why trust it to anything less? Panexa is proven to provide more medication to those who take it than any other comparable solution. Panexa is the right choice, the safe choice. The only choice.
Posted: Thu Nov 03, 2005.   Comments (15)

HETRACIL Anti-Effeminate Medication — Status: Hoax According to the HETRACIL website, "HETRACIL is the most widely prescribed anti-effeminate medication in the United States, helping 16 million Americans who suffer from Behavioral Effeminism and Male Homosexuality Disorder." In other words, it's supposedly a drug to treat homosexuality. The look and feel of the site is pretty convincing, perfectly imitating the bland soothing nature of other pharmaceutical sites. And it's plausible that some drug company could try to…
Posted: Tue Nov 01, 2005.   Comments (25)

New Orleans Euthanasia — A report in the Daily Mail claims that doctors stranded in New Orleans hospitals after Katrina hit decided to give some patients lethal doses of morphine, rather than watching them die in agony. A few bloggers are suggesting this report has all the markings of an urban legend, given that it's based on only one identified source. If so, it wouldn't be the first urban legend emerging from the disaster. However, the recent discovery of 44 dead bodies in a New Orleans hospital would seem to…
Posted: Tue Sep 13, 2005.   Comments (19)

Liquid Oxygen Skin Cream — New Scientist has flagged a product whose promoters are guilty of making a few misleading claims. It's Neaclear facial cream, and it's advertised as containing a "powerful combination of liquid oxygen, vitamins C & E, sage, chamomile, seaweed and rosemary, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and hydroquinone." The company even boasts that they're the first company "to combine stabilised liquid oxygen into all of its products." New Scientist notes that "We have certainly never heard of a skin…
Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005.   Comments (15)

Woman Claims to Have Diana’s Kidney — A French woman, Francoise Gaellar, had a kidney transplant two days after Princess Diana died in a car crash. She believes that she received Diana's kidney. As a consequence, she now feels urges to speak in English: "I found myself speaking English to my friends, something I don't normally do because I have no reason to," she says. "I cannot explain why I did this." Is this evidence of a fanciful nature, or an indication she had indeed received an organ from an English-speaker?…
Posted: Thu May 26, 2005.   Comments (20)

Hidden Dangers — The website of the British firm Health and Safety Management Consultants offers a list of 'hidden dangers'. For instance, did you know that 10,700 people in the UK are injured every year while putting their socks on? That two women have been killed by lightning hitting the underwiring of their bras? That more people are injured by flowerpots every year than by hedge trimmers? And that "the number of injuries inflicted by vegetables remains unacceptably high, at 13,132"? Most of these…
Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2005.   Comments (13)

The Rumor About LiveStrong Bracelets — A lot of people lately are wearing those yellow LiveStrong bracelets that help support the Lance Armstrong Foundation's efforts to fund cancer research. But the rumor going around is that if you do wear one of them, you better hope that you don't get into an accident and end up at the hospital, because the bracelets look exactly like the yellow wristbands that hospitals place on 'Do Not Resuscitate' patients. Apparently there is some truth to the rumor. Some hospitals do place yellow…
Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005.   Comments (20)

Cure The Catch — I received this email from 'Kurto': i have been a frequent visitor of your site for some time now. Recently this bombardment of advertisements about "The Catch" has been bothering me. The ad's contain figures stating million of Canadians have the Catch, and there's no cure. I'm curious to what exactly they're referring to. The website they encourage people to visit is http://curethecatch.com i have doubts to the validity of this so called disease. See if you can dig up any dirt on…
Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2005.   Comments (4)

Magnehance — Dakota Therapeutics has issued a press release announcing their exciting new product: the Magnehance. It's "a new magnetic device for erectile enhancement." The mind boggles. I don't quite understand how this thing is supposed to be worn, and (perhaps thankfully) they don't offer any illustrations on their website. But the amount of pseudo-scientific jargon they deploy is quite remarkable: the Magnehance™ is constructed of a super-flexible form of the high-energy, rare earth magnet…
Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2005.   Comments (40)

Carrot Fungus: It’ll Either Kill You or Cure Cancer — Andy sent me an email pointing out this curious article about an anti-cancer compound found in carrots. It's probably some kind of typo or poor choice of words, but if you read the first and last sentences together it sure sounds like this carrot cure is going to kill you before it has a chance to kill the cancer: Eating 400kg of carrot every day can help ward off cancer, scientists say. The recent study carried out by scientists at the University of Newcastle said a compound called…
Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2005.   Comments (10)

Morgellons Disease: Is It Real? — Sufferers of Morgellons disease complain of invisible parasites biting their skin. And they get skin lesions from which sprout strange fibers. And mysterious black spore-like specks appear on their skin. Cases of this strange disease seem to be spreading, especially in the Bay area. One theory is that it has something to do with Lyme disease. Or it may be a case of mass delusion. The medical community seems to think it's mass delusion. Most people who show up complaining of these…
Posted: Fri Feb 11, 2005.   Comments (607)

Knuckle Cracking — I'm not a knuckle cracker myself. In fact, I hate it when people crack their knuckles. And I've frequently told people that cracking their knuckles would cause arthritis. After all, that's what everyone says. But according to this NY Times article (republished in the Arizona Republic) it's not true. It's an urban legend. Just reading this description of what causes knuckles to crack makes me cringe: The loud pop of a cracked knuckle is caused by synovial fluid, the thick lubricant that…
Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2005.   Comments (70)

Auto-Urine Therapy — The About.com urban legends forum has a thread going about auto-urine therapy, which translates into 'drinking your own urine'. Is there really a thriving urine-drinking subculture? Well, yes. As the poster points out, all you have to do is google 'drinking your own urine' and you get all kinds of hits. The reason urine-drinking has so many fans is that it's supposed to offer numerous health benefits, including improving the immune system, giving you nice skin, acting great as a gargle…
Posted: Sat Dec 18, 2004.   Comments (72)

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