iPhone Thumb-Reduction Surgery

The North Denver News reports that big-thumbed Thomas Martel, of Bonnie Brae, Colorado, has had his thumbs surgically altered, thanks to a "revolutionary new surgical technique known as 'whittling,'" in order to make it easier for him to use his iPhone:
"This is really, on the edge sort of stuff," explains Dr. Robert Fox Spars, who worked on developing the procedure. "We're turning plastic surgery from something that people use in service of vanity, to a real tool for improving workplace efficiency." The procedure involved making a small incision into both thumbs and shaving down the bones, followed by careful muscular alteration and modification of the fingernails. While Martel's new thumbs now appear small and effeminate in comparison to his otherwise very large hands, he says he can still lift "pretty much anything I could lift before the surgery - though opening spaghetti sauce jars has been a problem. That was a big surprise."
The North Denver News does not appear to be a spoof newspaper, like The Onion, which would be the easiest explanation for this story, but I'm calling hoax on it anyway.

Who are these people: Thomas Martel and Dr. Robert Fox Spars? Except for references to them related to this story, I can't find any record of them in a search engine, or a directory listing. You would think that such a cutting-edge plastic surgeon would be listed somewhere. Nor can I find any other stories written by the author of the piece, "James Benfly."

Plus, the surgical procedure itself sounds absurd. I've heard of women having surgery to narrow their feet, to allow them to look better in high heels. But surgery to allow someone to use an iPhone more easily? I'm not buying it. My guess is that the North Denver News threw in a joke story to keep their readers entertained.

Update: The North Denver News has admitted the story was a hoax, and they list some of the points they were trying to make:
that U.S. society accepts plastic surgery and decorative deformation of the human body for vanity, but not other reasons (consider the Bonds steroid stories); that technology has become a new cult phenomena, in which items are praised or ridiculed based upon tribal allegiances instead of functionality and performance (and we are members of the Cult of the Mac- iPhone division); and we like to pretend that some of our writers have a sense of humor.
I've got to say (as I give myself a pat on the back) that I called this one pretty much exactly right. But it's amazing how many newspapers took this story totally at face value without questioning it at all.

Body Manipulation Technology

Posted on Fri Aug 10, 2007


I think the name of the town where Mr. Martel is from is another clue. Bonnie Brae is Scottish. The word Bonnie means good and a Brae is a type of flatland, if I remember right. Not much flatland around Denver. Although someoen might search an atlas of the area and see if there is really such a town.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  01:36 PM
A Google search for Bonnie Brae, CO turns up a bunch of Denver businesses and such, all of which give the impression that it is in fact a suburb of Denver, probably one of those seperate towns that was overtaken by the city, and most likely in the north part of town, given the name of the paper. As for the lack of flatlands, either it's in the flat valley part of Denver or it's one of those smugly ironic American city names that the pioneers often went with.

Just my $0.02.
Posted by Fred  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  01:58 PM
I don't know, there are people doing some pretty screwball things with their bodies these days. There's a website dedicated to giving yourself a forked tongue, horns implants in your forehead, downsizing your feet... some folks are pretty sick. If it CAN be done, there IS somebody out there who WILL have it done to themselves...
Posted by Christopher  in  Joplin, Missouri  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  03:15 PM
Bonnie Brae is a well-to-do neighborhood in North Denver.
Posted by Eric  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  03:19 PM
LOL. Well, it would be a good way to ensure that you can type on the tiny on-scren keyboard smile
Posted by Transfrmr  in  deep trouble  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  05:04 PM
There's definitely a Bonnie Brae, CO, but does Robert Fox Spars exist? I can't find anything on him. A zabasearch for a Robert Spars turns up nothing. He's had no scientific publications. He has no business webpage. There's nothing except the mention of him in this article.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  06:38 PM
Hoax Confirmed Alex smile http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/08/thumbs_surgical.html
Posted by Transfrmr  in  deep trouble  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  07:17 PM
Ugh, maybe not. I thought I had read that thw writer did call back. I blame it on Friday Syndrome.
Posted by Transfrmr  in  deep trouble  on  Fri Aug 10, 2007  at  07:19 PM
Another agreement as to hoax status, and a mention of MoH.

Nothing shows up in any searches for the people in the article, or the author, nor does the author apprear on the paper's staff list. One of the member of the paper's staff, Elizabeth Jeanne Wheeler does, however hold an MS degree in marketing from the University of Colorado according to her writeup. Viral marketing campaign?

I have friends in Colorado Springs who will check a little deeper using local resources for phone listings, but I don't expect much will turn up. There are however a heck of a lot of plastic surgeons in the area. Surprising (or maybe not) that the newspaper and those involved haven't had any additional comment considering all the press this is getting.
Posted by Transfrmr  in  deep trouble  on  Sat Aug 11, 2007  at  01:14 AM
This story was reported in the Sun newspaper in the UK today
Posted by Rob Parkhouse  in  Bristol, UK  on  Sat Aug 11, 2007  at  11:19 AM
The newspaper now admits it is a hoax:
Posted by derek  in  nyc  on  Sat Aug 11, 2007  at  06:39 PM
thanks good discuss . i read many time to this..
Posted by Cosmetic surgery  in  usa  on  Wed Jul 23, 2008  at  06:19 AM
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