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.
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.