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February 2007
image102-year-old Saleh Talib Saleh says he had had dreams when he was younger of growing horns from his head.
At the age of 77, he started noticing a hard patch on his scalp. It wasn’t really bothering him and, since at the time there were no local medical facilities, he just ignored it.
Gradually, the hard patch grew into what looked like a horn. The growth reached 1.6 feet before the stress on it, due to everyday life, caused it to weaken and fall off.

Almost immediately, a second ‘horn’ began growing in the place of the first. Many people from around the Gulf countries have travelled to visit Saleh in order to view what he considers to be a ‘gift from Allah’.

So, is this story true?
Well, I haven’t been able to track down much coverage of it (these aren’t the easiest search terms to isolate). Saleh has said he had no local medical facilities when he first grew the horn, but there is no mention of his having been to see a doctor (or a doctor seeing him) in the following twenty-five years. The only photograph I’ve found is the one in the linked article.

(Thanks, Tah.)

Edit: The complete photograph (shown in the article) seems to have some sort of Arabic writing at the bottom. Can anyone translate?
Categories: Health/Medicine, Photos/Videos, Religion
Posted by Flora on Wed Feb 28, 2007
Comments (23)
English pianist Joyce Hatto had risen to some prominence over the year preceding her death. Whilst she never played in public, recordings of her performances of works by artists such as Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov and Dukas, produced by her husband from a private studio, had her hailed as an unknown genius.

However, an iTunes programme that compares recordings with an online database has thrown her abilities into doubt.

A critic for the classical music magazine Gramophone was surprised to find that, when he loaded into his computer a recording of the pianist playing Liszt, the programme identified it as the work of the pianist Laszlo Simon on BIS Records. The critic tried again, this time using a disc of a Hatto recital of Rachmaninov. Once more, his computer listed it as the work of another pianist, Yemif Bronfman.

The critic was aware of certain rumours doubting Hatto's performances which had been floating around the internet, so he sent the recordings to audio expert Andrew Rose, who confirmed that the soundwaves of the Hatto recitals were identical to the ones of the other pianists.

Gramophone reports how Rose produced a section on his website that allows listeners to compare the pattern of soundwaves of Hatto's recordings with other pianists. When Rose went on to compare the Rachmaninov recital with the Bronfman recording, they also matched.
(Thanks, Sophie.)

UPDATE (28/2/07): Gramophone magazine reports that Hatto's husband has admitted to the scam.
(Thanks, Floormaster Squeeze.)
Categories: Art, Con Artists, Journalism, Technology
Posted by Flora on Tue Feb 20, 2007
Comments (10)
Fishermen Eat 'Alien'
Fishermen from the Rostov region of Russia recently caught a mysterious creature that is said to have made 'squeaking sounds'. The men were out fishing two weeks ago after a storm, and found something unidentifiable. The animal weighed around 100kg, and the men took video footage of it using a camera phone. Then they ate it.
Whilst experts were disappointed that there was nothing left of the creature, the footage has been reviewed by scientists and ufologists, and both appear to agree that there was nothing extra-terrestrial about the specimen.
(Thanks, Jen.)

Duckling Born with Four Legs
A genetic mutation meant Stumpy the duckling was born with four full sized legs. Apparently he's doing well.
(Thanks, Nettie.)

Nope, It's Soap
This website sells... well, soap that's hand-made, coffee-scented, and made to look like dog poo.
Apparently it's a great gift. If a tad surprising for the recipient.
(Thanks, Randall.)
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Flora on Sun Feb 18, 2007
Comments (22)
Statue of Jesus Shoots Sparks
Visitors to the Liverpool Academy of Art have claimed that a sculpture of Jesus has shot sparks from its eyes. 'Cleansing of the Temple' by Brian Burgess is a steel and bronze statue. Some visitors have also apparently gone into a trance whilst kneeling at the base of the sculpture. The artist says: "I worked on the piece for about a year but I never saw any sparks apart from those coming from the welding torch."
Forum thread here.
(Thanks, Madmouse.)

Snorkeler Mistaken for Rodent
John William Cheesman was shot in the face whilst diving when a 60-year-old man mistook him for a nutria - a type of water-dwelling South American rodent. The shooter, William Roderick, has been charged with assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana.

Bald Hall of Fame
This website features a gallery of celebrities. Bald.
Categories: Art, Celebrities, Law/Police/Crime, Religion
Posted by Flora on Tue Feb 13, 2007
Comments (7)
image I found this picture posted on Weird Asia News. It could easily be real. Especially if that woman has some experience handling tigers (though she doesn't look like she does). Or the tiger is really tame. My hunch is that it is real. However, I wouldn't be willing to sit on a tiger's back. My cat is vicious enough, and she's a lot smaller. So assuming that it is real, I wonder what the story behind it is. Maybe you pay a buck and have your picture taken with a tiger, and hope you don't get killed.
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 12, 2007
Comments (43)
Some may have noticed that I haven't been around here much for the past few weeks. (I owe a lot of thanks to Flora for keeping everything running.) I've been busy scribbling away, trying to finish my next book. The deadline when I have to hand in the manuscript to my publisher is, appropriately, April 1. Although the book has nothing to do with hoaxes. The title is now officially, Elephants on Acid -- and other bizarre experiments. This was my original title for the book, but then it was dropped for a while because my publisher worried it would be too cryptic, and might possibly offend elephant lovers. But finally the marketing department at Harcourt decided that Elephants on Acid was a lot catchier than Strange Experiments (or any other title along those lines). So it returned to the original title.

Anyway, the completion of my book is in sight, so I'm hoping I'll have more time to spend around here. Though I won't make any promises. I know myself too well to do that.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 12, 2007
Comments (11)

Truck Spills 40 Tons of Cow Intestines
The title is self-explanatory. Thanks to Big Gary for forwarding the story. He notes, "Nothing hoax-y about this; just more evidence that civilization is doomed."

Woman Fakes Heart Attack To Fight Off Intruder
The obvious problem with this tactic is that it relies upon the intruder being decent enough to help you out. What if you fake a heart attack, and the intruder just lets you flop around while he continues to rob your house?

Fake Blogging to Become a Crime in UK
Businesses that post fake glowing reviews of themselves online will potentially face criminal prosecution in the UK. The article notes: "Shortly before Christmas, the owner of the Drumnadrochit Hotel near Loch Ness admitted to posting a fake review of his own venue on the TripAdvisor site, calling it “outstanding” and “charming”. David Bremner said: “Maybe I shouldn’t have done it. But I don’t think it’s that big a deal.”" I've actually stayed at that hotel. It's a tourist trap -- dingy, overpriced rooms. Though there isn't that much to choose from around Loch Ness. (The Edinburgh gang might remember this hotel, because the bus to the Loch Ness Cruise left from the front of it.)

Anna Nicole Smith did not impregnate herself with her dead billionaire husband's frozen sperm
Claims to the contrary turn out to be a hoax. Though the idea sounded plausible.

Urination Rumors a Hoax
"The rumor that chefs at Texas Roadhouse urinated on an elderly woman's steak has been cleared up." Thank goodness for that. I'm so relieved.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Business/Finance, Gross
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 12, 2007
Comments (14)
Chicken Born With Duck Feet
A chicken in Columbia has surprised everyone by being born with webbed feet and legs like a duck. Vetinary experts say that the chicken is not a result of cross-species breeding, and is just a genetic mishap.
(Thanks, Adam.)

Divine Or Delusional? has a gallery of images showing items on which religious icons have allegedly been found. We've covered a few of them here, but some of the images were new to me. I found I could generally make out the figure or face or whatever was being claimed to be there, if I squinted or tilted my head, however some of them were really beyond my ability to make out, even though I was trying to. Personally, I accredit these phenomena to pareidolia.

Vatican Newspaper Denounces Fake Penitent
The Vatican Newspaper has attacked a reporter who, in the course of writing an article for a magazine, made false confessions to 24 different priests. The article the reporter was writing was researching whether priests followed the strict teachings of the church, and how they handled difficult situations in which to give advice.

Museum of Hoaxes is Site of the Week has this week chosen the Museum of Hoaxes as its Site of the Week.
(Thanks, Hulitoons.)
Categories: Advertising, Animals, Journalism, Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Flora on Sun Feb 11, 2007
Comments (15)
Blinking boxes placed around Boston caused major disruption after worried passers-by called in bomb scares to the local authorities.

Boxes variously described as having blinking lights, looking like circuit boards, and having wires hanging from them, were positioned in ten locations throughout Boston. When the authorities investigated them, they discovered that the devices were a marketing ploy for the adult cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

A few hours after the reports began about the devices, Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc. and parent of Cartoon Network, sent out a statement to clear up the situation.

The packages, which were magnetic light boxes depicting a cartoon character flipping the bird, had been placed around ten different cities: Boston; New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Atlanta; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; and Philadelphia as a guerilla marketing campaign.

The two men, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens, who were employed to plant the devices around Boston have been charged with placing hoax devices, and have been released on bail. They contend that they had no intent to cause a panic, and can therefore not, by law, be charged with the offence.

Turner Broadcasting have agreed to pay $2 million to settle claims and to release themselves from any legal liability.

Several of the devices were being sold on ebay, as of Thursday.

There is a thread regarding this topic in the forum.

Thanks to all who sent us information.
Categories: Advertising
Posted by Flora on Tue Feb 06, 2007
Comments (17)