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September 2009
Dog owners in the town of Basildon are concerned that someone may be trying to poison their pets. They've organized meetings to discuss the danger. Not that any dogs have been poisoned so far. No one has even seen any signs of poison around. But an email rumor has everyone spooked.
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 08, 2009
Comments (4)
Last week there were mass demonstrations in the Chinese city of Urumqi following what were described as a wave of "politically motivated syringe attacks." But now people are questioning how many syringe attacks actually happened, and were any of them politically motivated? From the Toronto Star:

The government said more than 500 people claimed to have been attacked, but only 170 show any signs of injury. Of those, 22 were being monitored and none were expected to suffer repercussions, it said.
"It seems more like mass hysteria than reality to me," observed Groot.
Even China's state-run Xinhua News Agency dialled down its reporting of the alleged attacks.
"Some of those who said they had been stabbed actually suffered from mosquito stings and other psychogenic reasons," Xinhua said.
Other agency reports noted that of the four people officially charged last week, most were drug addicts involved in acts of plain criminality.
Categories: Mass Delusion
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 08, 2009
Comments (1)
Pictures showing a Shanghai Sperm Bank that allegedly "gives men a hand" with sperm donations did the rounds last year, and now they seem to be circulating again. The deal is supposedly that if you agree to get a health check and abstain from sex and masturbation, then you can donate your sperm 4-5 times a month. You get paid RMB200 per session. The sperm bank is located in Ren ji Hospital, No 145 Shan Dong Zhong Lu, Building 1, 7th FL, near Fu Zhou Lu, Shanghai, China. Click here and here for the pics, which are potentially NSFW.

The Shanghai Sperm Bank is real, but its nurses don't actually help with the sperm donation process. The Sperm Bank issued a press release last year insisting that "These pictures are completely misleading. We never have female nurses assisting in sperm collection, which is done by the donor himself, alone in a special room." (Thanks, Asmo!)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Comments (15)
Swedish father Ragnar Bengtsson is pumping his breasts at three-hour intervals every day, in the hope that eventually he will start to lactate and be able to breastfeed his future children. If it works, he has no plans to breastfeed his 2-year-old son. The experiment is being filmed by Swedish TV8.

Odds that he may produce some milk if he works at it long enough: pretty good. Odds that he'll produce enough to feed a child: close to zero. He could help his cause by starving himself, since starvation triggers male lactation. That's just one of the odd facts I happen to know. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Comments (7)
I'm guessing it's a hoax: The Daily Telegraph reports on an ongoing controversy about a "baby alien" discovered in Mexico in 2007. It was supposedly discovered by a farmer who drowned it out of fear. This farmer later burned to death in a parked car (killed by the baby's parents?). Scientists are said to be baffled by the creature.

Categories: Cryptozoology, Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Comments (12)
Satire mistaken as news: On Monday, August 31 The Onion published an article claiming that Neil Armstrong had been convinced, after watching a few "persuasive YouTube videos," that "his historic first step on the moon was part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the United States government." A few days later this claim was picked up by a Bangladeshi newspaper, the Daily Manab Zamin, and run as fact. The paper has now apologized for its mistake, noting "We've since learned that the fun site [The Onion] runs false and juicy reports based on a historic incident." (Thanks to Tom Littrell)
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Comments (3)
I missed this while on vacation. A security guard looking at Google Earth in his sparetime found what he believes might be evidence of the Loch Ness monster. Almost everyone else thinks it looks obviously like a boat, except for Loch Ness researcher Adrian Shine who is quoted as saying it looks "really intriguing" and deserves "further study."
Categories: Cryptozoology, Nessie
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 04, 2009
Comments (4)
A story that was too good to be true: Roxanne Shante was an up-and-coming rap star in the 80s, but her career subsequently fizzed out, and her record company abandoned her. But, according to the New York Daily News, she managed to get her own back by noticing an obscure clause in her recording contract that obligated Warner Music to fund her education for life. Thanks to this, she was able to earn a Ph.D in psychology from Cornell.

As Ben Sheffner of slate.com notes, "The story was endlessly blogged and tweeted, heralded as an example of a heroic triumph by a girl from the projects over her evil record label." But when he investigated it more closely, he discovered "Virtually everything about the Daily News' heartwarming 'projects-to-Ph.D.' story appears to be false":

• According to Warner, neither it nor any of its subsidiary record labels ever had a contract with Shanté, and it was not obligated to pay for her education. Indeed, there's no evidence that it ever did.
• Shanté—real name Lolita Shanté Gooden—doesn't have a Ph.D. from Cornell or anywhere else. Indeed, she admitted it in an interview with Slate. And Cornell has no record of Gooden (or "Shanté") ever attending or receiving a degree.
• According to Marymount Manhattan College records, Shanté enrolled there but dropped out less than four months later without ever earning a degree.
• New York state records indicate that no one named Lolita Gooden or Roxanne Shanté is licensed to practice psychology or any related field.
Categories: Music
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 03, 2009
Comments (3)
Last week a man made headlines when he stood on a busy street corner in a suburb of Washington DC wearing a sign that read, "I cheated. This is my punishment." The man told reporters his wife had ordered him to wear the sign. When I first read this story I thought it sounded like a publicity stunt. Sure enough, a DC radio show, Hot 99.5 "Kane in the Morning," now admits they engineered the stunt.

The radio station claims they did it as an experiment to see how much attention the stunt would receive from the media. (With RTL's Michael Jackson stunt, that makes two hoax experiments in one week.) When the media tries to pass off its publicity stunts as hoax experiments, I don't buy it. They may claim it was done in the interest of science, but it's still just a publicity stunt.
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 02, 2009
Comments (2)
A short video that appeared on youtube a week ago showed someone resembling Michael Jackson getting out of the back of a coroner's van. Evidence perhaps that Jackson faked his death? Nope. German television station RTL subsequently admitted they faked the video as an experiment "to show how easily users can be manipulated on the Internet with hoax videos." An RTL spokesman said: "Unfortunately, many people believed it was true, even though we tried to create the video in a way that every normal user can see right away that it is a fake."

Hoaxes designed to demonstrate the gullibility of the public are an old phenomenon, going back at least to HL Mencken's 1917 bathtub hoax. The public invariably lives up to expectations.
Categories: Celebrities, Death, Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 02, 2009
Comments (6)
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