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Death

Some of the new developments include a device called the "soul phone," which is described as "an instrument that works like a telegraph through which people in spirit communicate."

Also learn how to communicate with the dead via regular phones: "Brazilian researcher Sonia Rinaldi... has been helping people by making phone calls to the beyond since March 2001. The majority have been for parents who have lost their children. Sonia writes, 'With this technology controlled by the Beyond, the call is not from the Beyond. They enter our terrestrial phone calls.'"

I guess that means you can talk to the dead on your iPhone. I wonder if there's an app for that?

A lot of the other stuff at the conference seems to be old-fashioned mediumship.
Categories: Death, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Sun Feb 23, 2014
Comments (1)
The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has shone a light on the strange business model of the site Mediamass.net.

After the actor died, reporters googled his name and came across an article on Mediamass reporting that the actor had recently been the victim of a death hoax. So a number of sites (such as The Telegraph and Daily Mail) subsequently reported on what a strange coincidence it was that the actor's real-life death had been anticipated by a death hoax.


But the reporters had been fooled. What seemed to have been a prescient hoax was actually just Mediamass's anticipatory method of rumor debunking.

You see, the site tries to capitalize on the popularity of celebrity rumors by anticipating rumors that might circulate and debunking them... whether or not such rumors actually are spreading. It achieves this by using generic, automatically generated templates.

So, for instance, it's possible that a death hoax might circulate about any celebrity. So it has pages already generated for all the major celebrities debunking rumors of their death, in anticipation of the day when these rumors might come into existence. The name of the celebrity just gets inserted into the generic template.




Similarly, it has pages debunking possible pregnancy rumors, false marriage reports, etc.


I have to admit, it certainly takes the work out of debunking. Why bother scanning twitter, Facebook, etc. for false rumors, when you can simply generate templates that deny all such rumors before they even start to spread.

And when a celebrity really does die... then Mediamass simply replaces the pre-generated template with a short notice to the effect that this time the report of the celebrity's death was true.
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 03, 2014
Comments (2)
Why do people go to the Florida Keys to fake their death? Because of the water: "all the water — the ocean, the channels, the bay — all plausible places for a body never to be found."

Florida Keys have been a place for many to stage their own deaths
from The Miami Herald

Some people come to the Florida Keys to dive the coral reefs or fish for tarpon. Others come to party in Key West. And then there are a desperate few who come to the subtropical island chain for a more sinister activity: faking their own deaths.
"We've had so many over the years," Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said. "The underlying reason usually is a bankruptcy, a divorce, an imminent arrest or the feds coming down on them."
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 04, 2014
Comments (0)
According to urban legend, the holiday season sees a spike in suicides. But Scientific American notes that November and December actually have the lowest rates of suicide.

The reason is perhaps because "The increased emotional and social support during holiday time temporarily dims the feelings of despair and anguish for many depressed children and adults."

But unfortunately the holiday lull is followed by a peak of suicides in the Spring: "As winter thaws into spring, there is the hope for renewal that if not delivered can set into motion agitation and despair."
Categories: Death, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 17, 2013
Comments (0)
On Thursday, an image purporting to be a death photo of Nelson Mandela began circulating online.


The photo — a greenish-tinged shot of Mandela with his eyes closed — was originally posted on twitter by someone with the username @nQOW_bee.

IOL news reported: "In between tweets about the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial at FNB Stadium on Tuesday, which is her sexiest body part, and how she can’t stick to a healthy diet, she posted a picture of Mandela with the words 'He is resting'."

The image was soon retweeted, but in response to a massive negative response, the twitter user subsequently claimed that she hadn't taken the picture: "urgh suka! I did not take the pic"... it was "some Indian guy".

Subsequently @nQOW_bee's account was deleted.

By the end of the day, the "death photo" was revealed to be a falsely captioned image of Mandela closing his eyes during an ANC conference in Durban in July 1991. The original photo had been taken by photographer Trevor Samson for Agence France-Presse. The AFP posted the fake death photo and the original side-by-side for comparison.

Categories: Death, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 13, 2013
Comments (0)
Celebrity death hoaxes have become such a pervasive part of the internet that when a celebrity really dies, particularly a young celebrity, people legitimately wonder if the news is real or fake. And that's exactly what happened after actor Paul Walker died in a car crash on Nov. 30.

Adding to the uncertainty was the manner of his death. A lot of death hoaxes feature death-by-car-crash (that's the way Paul McCartney supposedly died back in 1966), so when the news came in that Walker (star of the Fast and Furious car-racing film franchise) had met his end in a crash, it did sound a bit hoax-like. But that's the way it actually happened.

And then the satirical news site MediaMass posted a spoof story claiming that the report of Walker's death was a hoax. A screenshot of this story soon began to circulate on Twitter, Facebook, etc. MediaMass eventually took down the story and replaced it with a note saying his death was confirmed, but too late.


So this is a "reverse death hoax" because the claim that the news was a hoax was itself a hoax.

Also, David Emery notes that an image has been circulating that's supposedly a gruesome postmortem shot of Walker. This is a hoax. The person in the photo is actually a Christian missionary who was "injured in a construction mishap two years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 02, 2013
Comments (0)
The surprise guest at this year's Andy Kaufman Awards, which took place in NYC over the long weekend, was Andy Kaufman's 24-year-old daughter. The surprise is that Kaufman died 29 years ago. And Andy didn't store his sperm, or anything like that, in order to facilitate post-mortem conception.

Andy's brother Michael explained that Andy faked his death because "Andy wanted to go into hiding and live a normal life, that he'd met and fallen in love with a woman and had a daughter, and that he didn't want Michael or anyone to say anything while their own father was still alive. Andy's and Michael's father died this summer. " [via The Comics Comic]
Categories: Death, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 12, 2013
Comments (2)
This is a bit odd. The Pentagon has admitted that many of the "arrival ceremonies," in which the remains of fallen soldiers are carried in flag-draped coffins from the planes that brought them home, are actually an elaborate bit of funereal theater. In many cases, the remains have already been in the country for months. But for the benefit of the soldiers' family and loved ones, the remains are loaded onto a grounded plane, and then, a few hours later, are carried back off again.

Revealed: How Pentagon FAKED repatriation of fallen soldiers for years with phony ceremonies, decommissioned planes and bodies that had spent months in labs
Daily Mail

Until now, [the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command] has allowed the public to believe that flag-draped boxes pulled from C-17 military planes contained the rediscovered dead from those countries. But the Pentagon acknowledged to NBC News Wednesday that, in fact, the remains had only just been removed from a lab at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu. Now, the events will be known as 'honor ceremonies.' 'The name changed because they've already arrived, technically,' Army Staff Sergeant Andrew Smith told NBC...

Helping further dupe attendees is the use of an airplane that many believed had actually just flown the remains home. A plane is towed to where the ceremony will take place prior to doors opening to the public. It is often a plane that can no longer even fly.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 11, 2013
Comments (0)
Viewers of The Steve Wilkos Show on CBS affiliate KRTV in Great Falls had the program interrupted on Monday by an emergency alert that delivered this warning:

Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Follow the messages on screen that will be updated as information becomes available. Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are extremely dangerous.


Seems that someone had hacked into the station's emergency alert system. The police (who are looking into the matter) report that four people called them to check if the alert was true. [greatfallstribune]
Categories: Death, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 12, 2013
Comments (3)
The latest news from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is that a tortoise was found alive after being locked in a closet for 30 years. The story goes that the Almeida family lost their tortoise, Manuela, 30 years ago. They looked everywhere for her, but eventually concluded that she had run away. But when the father of the family, Leonel, died recently, the kids (now adults) were clearing out his room, and there, in the closet, was Manuela. Somehow she was still alive. [telegraph.co.uk]

How could this be? A Brazilian vet is quoted as saying that red-footed tortoises (Manuela's species) can go up to 2 or 3 years without food. But not 30 years! To explain this, the vet suggests that perhaps Manuela was eating termites off the wooden floor.

Nature can pull some amazing surprises, so I wouldn't say the story absolutely cannot be true. But I do have some questions:
  1. How does the family know it's the same turtle? Did they have old pictures of Manuela for comparison? If not, then how could they remember what the turtle looked like after 30 years? They may think they remember, but memories can deceive.
  2. How do they know the father wasn't feeding the turtle?
  3. Assuming the turtle was locked in the closet eating termites, how was it getting water?



Categories: Animals, Death
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 27, 2013
Comments (2)
Samuel "Old Uncle Sam" Shepherd had a hard but interesting life. He was a slave who managed to buy his freedom, and lived on until 1909. But it's his birthdate that generates more interest than the date of his death.

His grave marker in Oak Hill Cemetery (Lawrence, Kansas) lists his birthdate as 1784. This would make him 125 years old when he died. If true, he would potentially be the oldest person ever to have lived.


According to wikipedia, Jeanne Calment of France holds the record for the oldest unambiguously documented human lifespan. She died at the age of 122 in 1997. Christian Mortensen, who died at the age of 115, holds the record for the oldest male lifespan (again, unambiguously documented). Samuel Shepherd, at 125, would have beaten both of them.

However, the documentation for Shepherd's birthdate is incredibly ambiguous. There's just his word for it, and he seems to have guessed at the date. This disqualifies him for consideration as the Oldest Person Ever.

In fact, Shepherd seems to offer an example of the phenomenon of age exaggeration, which I've discussed on the site before. It's the tendency for people to lie about their age (or, more charitably, to grow confused about it), exaggerating it upwards as they near the centenary mark. They do this because being perceived to be very old makes them feel special and gives them higher status in the community.

The most famous example of this phenomenon is the Ecuadorian town of Vilcabamba, which briefly gained a worldwide reputation as the Town of Supercentenarians, until anthropologists realized that large numbers of people in the town were misrepresenting their age.

I've also posted about the case of Buster Martin (who claimed to be a 101-year-old marathon runner), Mariam Amash (who claimed to be 120), and the Chinese village of Bama (which, like Vilcabamba, is supposed to be full of supercentenarians).
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 09, 2012
Comments (3)
According to this theory John Travolta died in 1991 and was replaced by a look-alike, German singer Roy Black.


John Travolta (left) -- Roy Black (right)




The corollary to this theory would be that Roy Black didn't die of heart failure in 1991, but actually survived and, for some inexplicable reason, took over Travolta's career. The theory doesn't explain how Travolta died.

This is a very minor conspiracy theory. I'm guessing it was inspired by someone noticing that Roy Black and John Travolta look somewhat similar. But it made me curious about how many celebrities have supposedly been replaced by doubles. Paul McCartney is the most famous one — replaced by the Edinburgh orphan William Campbell. And in the old hoax forum there's the thread about Lisa Marie Presley having been replaced by a Swedish woman, Lisa Johansen (so Johansen claims).

I couldn't think of any other cases of replaced celebrities. Then I found the site 60if, devoted to the Paul-is-Dead theory. It has a forum thread entirely devoted to celebrity replacement theories. (Maybe the possible source of the Travolta/Black theory.) According to these guys, just about every celebrity you can think of has been replaced by a double. And even many historical figures (George Washington, Einstein, etc.). We're living in a world of doubles!
Categories: Celebrities, Conspiracy Theories, Death
Posted by Alex on Wed May 23, 2012
Comments (8)
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