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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Psychology
Best of the Forum – 25th May 07
Posted by Boo on Fri May 25, 2007
As some people receive Museum updates via RSS feed, or just don't frequent the forum, we have decided to round up some of the most interesting threads each week for all to see. Rabbit-Headed Cat (Smerk) Two carcasses discovered in 1988 and 1993 are thought to be a new species – rabbit-headed wildcats. These Kellas cats seem to be rare, and investigators are urging landowners and gamekeepers to help them discover more. Sadly, the rabbit-like ears aren’t as impressive as I’d hoped. Get…
Colour-Changing Card Trick
Posted by Boo on Thu May 10, 2007
This trick is quite an interesting little demonstration of misdirection. I shan't say more, so as to not give it away, but keep your eyes peeled - there is more to this than just one trick. (Thanks, Nettie and David B.)
Quick Links: Honesty, Graffiti, Hindu Goddess, and Mozart
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 17, 2007
Brits flunk honesty test A credit-card protection firm, Affinion International, conducted an experiment in which they left items such as mobile phones, key, and wallets in city centres (Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, and Manchester). All the items were clearly marked with the owner's contact number, but most were never returned. Not surprising. Obscene messages end graffiti experiment Officials in Louisville tried to give graffiti artists a legal place to practice their craft, but abandoned the experiment after the concrete walls simply became filled with obscene messages. The walls will now be painted beige... and will doubtless soon be covered with illegal graffiti. Man from…
Categories: Art, Psychology, Religion Comments (5)
The Virtual Milgram Obedience Experiment
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 21, 2006
Back in the early 1960s Stanley Milgram conducted a famous experiment at Yale University. Volunteers were told that it was designed to test the effect of punishment on learning. Would a person learn a list of word pairs better if they were punished every time they got an answer wrong? The volunteer was instructed to deliver an electric shock to the learner every time one of his answers was wrong. The shocks increased in intensity for every wrong answer. Of course, the experiment wasn't actually about the effect of punishment on learning at all. It was really designed to see how long the volunteers would obey…
Categories: Psychology, Science Comments (28)
Quick Links: Gnomes and Gropers
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 21, 2006
Yet Another Traveling Gnome Back in the Spring Allen Snyder's gnome disappeared from his garden. Now he's learned that it's been attending Pittsburgh Steelers' games. Next stop an airplane to somewhere far away. Submitted by Big Gary who notes: "Predicatable, but I thought you'd want to keep your gnome section up-to-date." Pretends to be mentally ill to get a grope This is pathetic. William Mucklow has been accused of pretending to be mentally ill so that he can hire nurses to take care of him. He then grabs their breasts as they try to do their job. A pretty elaborate strategy to get a grope.
Jesus in an Ultrasound
Posted by Boo on Thu Aug 24, 2006
Following hot on the heels of the chocolate Virgin Mary (which, as many people pointed out, looked more like the Maltese Falcon) comes: Jesus as seen on an ultrasound picture. Seven months through her pregnancy, Laura Turner went for a routine ultrasound. She already knew that her son had a cleft lip, and she and her partner had been told there was a possibility of the child having Down's Syndrome. She says that she didn't notice anything particularly odd about the scan until a friend pointed it out once they got home.…
Is Fake-Nice A Good Thing?
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 23, 2006
Status: Etiquette advice Miss Manners recently tackled the question of whether it's better to be honest (and unpleasant) or to be fake-nice. A correspondent asked her: How can one deal (correct word?) with nice people, saying "all the right things," without meaning any of it? It's just been driving me crazy as it seems to be occurring more and more. Miss Manners responded that it would be a disaster if people were always brutally honest: This is not an affliction, Miss Manners assures you. It is a blessing. For the last several decades, people have been saying all…
Categories: Psychology Comments (23)
Pickle Phobia
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 09, 2006
Status: Undetermined Some of the things I post about aren't the most intelligence-enhancing things in the world. I know that. But what follows is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. It's a woman who appeared on the Maury Povich Show who claims to be Pickle-Phobic. The mere sight of pickles sends her into a state of screaming panic. Her fear of pickles is ruining her life. Here's what she has to say: "My name is Mariah, and I hate…
Categories: Photos/Videos, Psychology Comments (47)
Watching Eyes Make Us Honest
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 28, 2006
Status: Strange experiment An experiment described in a recent issue of the journal Biology Letters reveals a simple way to make people behave more honestly: display a picture of watching eyes. Melissa Bateson, a biologist at Newcastle University, conducted the experiment on her colleagues, without their knowledge, using the communal coffee pot in the departmental lounge as the set-up. She found that when she placed a picture of a pair of beady eyes above the coffee pot, contributions to the 'honesty box' (the box in which people are supposed to deposit money to pay for the…
Categories: Psychology Comments (6)
Stock Performance Tied To Ease Of Pronouncing Company’s Name
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 02, 2006
Status: Unusual Research There's nothing hoaxy about this story. It's just another example of how non-rational people can be... especially investors in the stock market. Two Princeton researchers, Adam Alter and Danny Oppenheimer, have discovered that the ease with which a company's name and its ticker symbol can be pronounced has a strong short-term effect on the performance of its stock. In other words, "a stock with the symbol BAL should outperform one with the symbol BDL in the first few days of trading." "We looked at intervals of a day, a week, six months and a…
IQ Challenge
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 10, 2006
Status: Practical joke I evidently don't spend enough time on LiveJournal, because if I did I would have known about the IQ Challenge sooner. (It was evidently quite popular on LiveJournal.) As it is, I completely missed out on it, and now it's over. What it was (or claimed to be) was an IQ test offered by IQ-Challenge.com. Once you completed the test, it produced a small graphic showing your score that you could post on your site. The joke was that the test gave everyone a high score. But the graphic that you posted on your site would (unbeknownst to you) show a low score. You can imagine the results this produced. Here's…
Categories: Psychology Comments (36)
Feng Shui For Cars
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 17, 2006
Status: Pseudoscience Aon Private Clients, a British insurance broker, has commissioned the first ever study of how to improve the feng shui of cars. They note that implementing these recommendations "could improve the flow of energy in vehicles and help drivers alleviate the negative feelings which lead to road rage." Suggestions offered by the study include: A driver should park his or her car facing away from the driver’s home. According to feng shui, cars are ‘predatory tigers’. If parked facing towards a house or office building, they create a threat to the occupants of the building.Remove clutter from the car: it ‘sucks the life force out of the driver’.If using wi-fi connections such as…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Psychology Comments (11)
Brain Gym
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 11, 2006
Status: Highly dubious Based on the description on the Brain Gym website, Brain Gym sounds like a pretty good idea. It's "a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas." The program, which consists of 26 different exercises, is now being used in a lot of schools to help kids learn. Exercise can definitely improve mental acuity, so having kids do something like this would seem to make sense. But as Ben Goldacre revealed in a recent Bad Science column, the concept is a lot more bogus than it appears at first blush. The reason is that all kinds of dubious and pseudoscientific claims are made on behalf of these exercises.…
Categories: Psychology, Sports Comments (18)
Twenty Phobias
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 06, 2006
Status: Bogus fears The BBC invited its readers to tell them what their greatest fears were, and has posted a selection of 20 of the responses. Some of them are hard to take seriously. Especially this one: The letter Y: "M phobia is all about the letter . Ever time I tr to press it on the ke board, it makes me want to cr . I know it seems sill to ever one else, but it all started when I was a bab , and I swallowed a magnetic letter. At least that's what My mumm and dadd told me an wa ." Paul Davies, Swindon, UK This…
Categories: Psychology Comments (21)
Fake Smiles May Cause Depression
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 17, 2006
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 consumer magazine Good Advice. "Every time a person is forced to repress his true feelings, there are negative consequences for his health," said Professor Dieter Zapf, a researcher into human emotions. I'm a…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Psychology Comments (23)
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