The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
August 2012
128-year-old man tries to get health insurance
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 27, 2012
Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports that Mzee Julius Wanyondu is having trouble getting coverage under the National Hospital Insurance Fund. The reason is that he's 128 years old, having been born in 1884. However, the NHIF's computers will only accept birthdates later than 1890. Remarkably, the article doesn't address the obvious question: Does this guy have any proof that he's really 128? He has some kind of ID card that displays 1884 as his birthdate. But what evidence did he present to get this card? The article says that Mzee Wanyondu has a son who's 70. Based on that, I'd say it's likely that he's in his 90s. Or maybe slightly over 100.…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (6)
Town waits 100 years to open package
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 27, 2012
For 100 years, a package marked "May Be Opened in 2012" has been sitting in a museum in Otta, Norway. It was given to the town of Otta by a local resident, Johan Nygaard, back in 1912. There's been enormous speculation about what the package might contain. Money? A diary? Stock certificates? Finally, last Friday, the 100-year-mark arrived, and the town gathered to open the package. There was a live video feed, so the entire world could share in the excitement. The mayor carefully opened the package, peeked inside... and it turned to contain: "not-too-valuable notebooks, newspaper clippings, community council papers, a letter, small drawing and other bits of paper." In…
Categories: History, Places Comments (8)
Can a bar of soap between your sheets ease muscle cramps?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 21, 2012
Virginia news station WSLS 10 recently ran a 'myth buster' segment on whether putting a bar of soap between your sheets can ease nighttime leg and foot cramps. To my surprise, they concluded that, yes, a bar of soap does seem to help some people, even though there is "no scientific evidence" for why this would work. Just to clarify, the claim is that merely having a bar of soap near your muscles at night can stop them from cramping. The brand of soap doesn't seem to matter much, though some people express individual preferences. (Irish Spring is a favorite.) The soap should also be in close proximity to the cramping muscle.…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (9)
Gullibility sometimes increases as people grow old. For which reason, the elderly are victims of financial scams in disproportionately high numbers. New research, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, has now linked this age-related gullibility to deterioration of a specific area in the brain — the vmPFC (ventromedial prefrontal cortex). The researchers showed a series of ads to 18 patients with damage to the vmPFC. Some of the ads were deceptive (and contained clues to that effect). For instance, one ad for a (fictitious) product named NatureCure described a 'natural' pain reliever that supposedly provided headache relief "without the side effects of over-the-counter pain relievers." But a disclaimer at the bottom…
Categories: Science Comments (1)
An algorithm for finding the source of rumors
Posted by The Curator on Sun Aug 12, 2012
A Lausanne-based researcher, Pedro Pinto, has developed an algorithm that can quickly trace rumors back to their original source. From eurekalert.org: "Using our method, we can find the source of all kinds of things circulating in a network just by 'listening' to a limited number of members of that network," explains Pinto. Suppose you come across a rumor about yourself that has spread on Facebook and been sent to 500 people – your friends, or even friends of your friends. How do you find the person who started the rumor? "By looking at the messages received by just 15 of your friends, and taking into account the time factor, our algorithm can trace the path…
Categories: Urban Legends Comments (1)
The Great Emu Scam of 2012
Posted by The Curator on Sun Aug 12, 2012
Indian newspapers are reporting the exposure of a major scam involving emu farming. Thousands of people were promised that in return for a modest investment in an emu farm, they soon would be earning thousands of rupees every month. They were led to believe this on the basis of the supposedly massive demand for emu meat and emu-oil cosmetics. The scam was exposed when investors realized that their monthly payments were failing to materialize. [thehindu.com, indiatimes.com]
Categories: Animals, Scams Comments (2)
The Diamond Club—an erotic literary experiment
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 10, 2012
Justin Young and Brian Bushwood, of the NSFWshow podcast, were intrigued by the success of the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. They were particularly impressed with how many books were selling well for no other reason, apparently, than that they looked Fifty Shades of Grey. So they decided to conduct an experiment — to find out whether an ebook could succeed simply by resembling Fifty Shades of Grey. They came up with a title for their novel, The Diamond Club. They also sketched out a rough outline of a plot: When Brianna Young discovers that Roman Dyle, the man she built a relationship…
Is lying bad for your health?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 09, 2012
Bad news for hoaxers -- A new scientific study reports that lying less results in better health. (Links: apa.org, eurekalert.org) The study hasn't been peer-reviewed/published yet, but preliminary results were reported at the 120th Convention of the American Psychological Association. The study tracked 110 people, half of whom were instructed to tell fewer lies for 10 weeks, and the other half received no special instructions about lying. At the end of 10 weeks, the non-liers reported significantly better health. What I wonder is how the researchers could know that the no-lying group wasn't lying about lying less. The researchers said they gve the participants regular polygraph tests, but those tests…
Categories: Science Comments (2)
The first (fake) photo from the Curiosity rover
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 06, 2012
The first image (above) transmitted by the Curiosity rover from Mars was kind of blurry and unexciting. So the folks on Twitter and Tumblr substituted a more dramatic shot (below). It's circulating with the caption: "NASA just landed a rover on Mars, this is the very first picture. This JUST happened minutes ago." It actually is a picture of Mars, but it was taken by the Mars Spirit rover in 2005. (link: gawker.com)
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (1)
Use your left ear to detect lies
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 03, 2012
image source: megafonA study reported in the journal Laterality (Mar 2005) found that people are significantly better at detecting lies with their left ear than their right ear. The reason is that left-ear information is processed by the brain's right hemisphere, which apparently is better at detecting deception than the left hemisphere. (For instance, studies have shown that people with right-hemisphere damage have trouble detecting lies.) In the ear study, 32 participants listened to 112 pre-recorded statements, using either their right or left ear, and then were asked to determine which statements were true or false. The results, from the study: Participants were significantly more accurate when…
Categories: Science Comments (4)
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