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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Health/Medicine
Quantified Toilets—collecting your toilet data
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 30, 2014
When attendees at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing (held in Toronto) went to the bathroom, they found a sign alerting them that "Behaviour at these toilets is being recorded for analysis. Access your live data at quantifiedtoilets.com." Visiting the Quantified Toilets website (which has the tagline 'Capturing toilet behavior for real-time data and health analysis'), they found a live feed that provided data about all the toilet "deposits" that had been made. The information included how much had been depoisted, whether drugs were detected in it, as well as other bio-information such as pregnancy, infections, blood alcohol, gender of the depositor, and even what…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Websites Comments (0)
Beezin
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 25, 2014
It's called "beezin". It involves applying Burt's Bees lip balm to your eyelids. Media reports (such as here and here) are hyping it as a worrying new trend among teens. Supposedly it enhances the experience of being drunk or high. But doctors warn that it could also cause eye inflammation. Could this possibly be real? It sounds as stupid as that fake news report that was circulating recently about teens smoking bed bugs to get high. The reason.com blog is skeptical about the entire thing, but notes that even if kids really are "beezin," the media panic seems unfounded. Do we really need to be worried…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (1)
Martha Nasch—the woman who didn’t need to eat or drink
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 07, 2014
In September 1934, Louis Nasch, a department store painter living in St. Paul, Minnesota, alerted the press to the fact that his wife, Martha, hadn't had anything to eat or drink in the last seven years. She hadn't slept either. And yet she was perfectly healthy. Louis explained that he decided to go public with this information because "I do not want people to think I am starving my wife." Louis and Martha Nasch Upon being questioned by the press, Martha insisted it was true, though she conceded that she realized "the world will not believe me." To back up her claim, her husband, their 12-year-old…
Categories: Food, Health/Medicine Comments (9)
A Mistaken Lunatic
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 28, 2014
Since today is the first day of Error Day, this story seems appropriate. Assuming that the story was accurately reported, it demonstrates that the difference between sanity and insanity is often just a matter of context. The clipping comes from The Sydney Morning Herald - Dec 26, 1884. But I first saw the story over at Brian Chapman's Legends & Rumors blog. A correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette writes: — "An Oxfordshire woman met with an experience a few days back which should act as a warning to intending visitors to lunatic asylums. The person in question journeyed to Littlemore, a village four miles distant from Oxford, where there…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (0)
Stuck Together—can it really happen?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 03, 2014
BBC News has delved into the mystery of "penis captivus," aka "cohesione in coitu," aka couples getting stuck together during sex. It tries to determine whether this can really happen, or whether such reports are just an urban myth. According to legend, the gods Mars and Venus once got stuck together, as depicted in this 16th century woodcut by the artist Raphael Regius Dr Aristomenis Exadaktylos of Switzerland, in a recent radio interview, declared it to be an urban myth. But other doctors aren't so sure. Dr John Dean, a "senior UK-based sexual physician," says that it's a rare phenomenon, but insists it can happen. Although he hastens to add that it's…
Squirrel AIDS is a hoax
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 17, 2014
The Ocean County Health Department of New Jersey recently began receiving numerous phone calls and emails from people worried about the health risk posed by squirrels with AIDS. Many parents asked whether they should allow their children to play outside. In response, the health department has posted a statement assuring the public that there is no such thing as 'Squirrel AIDS' or 'SQUAIDS'. Nor have there been any confirmed cases of illness transmitted to a human from a squirrel. No cases of squirrel-to-human disease transmission? I immediately thought, 'What about rabies?' But some googling reveals that although squirrels can theoretically contract rabies, it's very rare for them to do…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (0)
Marijuana overdoses in Colorado?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jan 04, 2014
A story posted recently on the fake-news site DailyCurrant.com alleged that hospitals in Colorado were being overwhelmed by people suffering from marijuana poisoning. There were 37 people dead already! The article quoted a Dr. Jack Shepard of St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver as saying, "It's complete chaos here. I've put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute." Enough people believed this story that St. Luke's Medical Center (which is a real hospital) felt compelled to issue a statement denying the report: The name Dr. Jack Shepard is an allusion to the…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (2)
Acme Worm Bouncer
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 20, 2013
Great name. Lousy product. Acme Worm Bouncer was widely advertised in the 1920s and 30s, with guarantees that it would quickly free farm animals of "blood-sucking, profit-stealing parasites." But the stuff was actually mostly charcoal. Governmental authorities eventually filed suit against Acme Feeds, Inc., the company that made the stuff, charging them with "misleading representations regarding its efficacy." [via The Quack Doctor] Misbranding of Acme Worm Bouncer. U.S. v. 5 Bags of Acme Worm Bouncer. Default decree of condemnation and destruction. The labeling of this product bore false and misleading representations regarding its efficacy in the conditions indicated below. On February 2, 1940, the United States…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (0)
The Good Health Bug
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 05, 2013
A case of satirical prophecy? On April 1, 1931, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on its front page declaring that health can "be caught." It explained that a German scientist, Dr. Eugene Lirpa, had discovered that good health was caused by a bacteria, "Bacillus sanitatis." People who lacked this bacteria grew ill. Therefore, it would be possible to make people healthy by infecting them with the "germ of health." The article was an April Fool's Day hoax. In fact, I think it's the ONLY April Fool hoax the LA Times has ever perpetrated, because the major US newspapers (unlike their British counterparts) tend to view themselves as being somewhat above the vulgar…
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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)
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)
The Fix-a-Flat Faker
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 27, 2012
When a doctor starts injecting bathroom caulk into your buttocks, I think that's a good sign he/she isn't entirely on the up-and-up. Fake Fix-a-Flat nurse arrested, charged with manslaughter in Fla. client’s death bradenton.com BROWARD — Oneal Morris, the transgender woman charged in two counties with injecting people seeking fuller figures with a toxic concoction which included Fix-a-Flat, on Thursday was charged with manslaughter in the death of a Broward County client. Morris, 32, of Hollywood, has been charged in the death of Shatarka Nuby, 31, of Tamarac... According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Nuby had paid Morris, known as The Duchess, hundreds of dollars to inject her at her home with…
Esoteric Breast Massage
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 23, 2012
Serge Benhayon is the creator of "Esoteric Breast Massage" (EBM). He describes this as a healing technique that offers many benefits, such as possibly preventing cancer. Serge Benhayon Despite what you may be thinking, EBM is not just an excuse for him to massage lots of women's breasts. Far from it. In fact, he never does the massaging. He emphasizes that only women can perform EBM on other women. This made it a little awkward for him to teach the technique, back when he was the only person who knew how to do it. From an interview in Spa Australasia magazine (pdf): I have never performed an…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (4)
Samuel Shepherd: the 125-year-old Man
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 09, 2012
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…
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine Comments (3)
Exam-weary students in China receive amino-acid infusions
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2012
A strange series of photos has recently been circulating online showing an entire classroom full of high school students in China hooked up to IV drips. Apparently the students aren't sick. Instead, they're exhausted from cramming for the upcoming National College Entrance Exam (Gao Kao). So they're all being given supplemental amino acids via IV drip. And this is something the Chinese government is willing to pay for. Links: ministryoftofu.com, globaltimes.cn, businessinsider.com. I haven't found anything to indicate that the scene shown in the pictures isn't exactly what it's being described as. And Chinese officials, in interviews, seem to have confirmed that this is what's going…
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