The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Psychology
Pickle Phobia
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 09, 2006
Status: Undetermined Some of the things I post about aren't the most intelligence-enhancing things in the world. I know that. But what follows is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. It's a woman who appeared on the Maury Povich Show who claims to be Pickle-Phobic. The mere sight of pickles sends her into a state of screaming panic. Her fear of pickles is ruining her life. Here's what she has to say: "My name is Mariah, and I hate…
Categories: Photos/Videos, Psychology Comments (47)
Watching Eyes Make Us Honest
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 28, 2006
Status: Strange experiment An experiment described in a recent issue of the journal Biology Letters reveals a simple way to make people behave more honestly: display a picture of watching eyes. Melissa Bateson, a biologist at Newcastle University, conducted the experiment on her colleagues, without their knowledge, using the communal coffee pot in the departmental lounge as the set-up. She found that when she placed a picture of a pair of beady eyes above the coffee pot, contributions to the 'honesty box' (the box in which people are supposed to deposit money to pay for the…
Categories: Psychology Comments (6)
Stock Performance Tied To Ease Of Pronouncing Company’s Name
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 02, 2006
Status: Unusual Research There's nothing hoaxy about this story. It's just another example of how non-rational people can be... especially investors in the stock market. Two Princeton researchers, Adam Alter and Danny Oppenheimer, have discovered that the ease with which a company's name and its ticker symbol can be pronounced has a strong short-term effect on the performance of its stock. In other words, "a stock with the symbol BAL should outperform one with the symbol BDL in the first few days of trading." "We looked at intervals of a day, a week, six months and a…
IQ Challenge
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 10, 2006
Status: Practical joke I evidently don't spend enough time on LiveJournal, because if I did I would have known about the IQ Challenge sooner. (It was evidently quite popular on LiveJournal.) As it is, I completely missed out on it, and now it's over. What it was (or claimed to be) was an IQ test offered by IQ-Challenge.com. Once you completed the test, it produced a small graphic showing your score that you could post on your site. The joke was that the test gave everyone a high score. But the graphic that you posted on your site would (unbeknownst to you) show a low score. You can imagine the results this produced. Here's…
Categories: Psychology Comments (36)
Feng Shui For Cars
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 17, 2006
Status: Pseudoscience Aon Private Clients, a British insurance broker, has commissioned the first ever study of how to improve the feng shui of cars. They note that implementing these recommendations "could improve the flow of energy in vehicles and help drivers alleviate the negative feelings which lead to road rage." Suggestions offered by the study include: A driver should park his or her car facing away from the driver’s home. According to feng shui, cars are ‘predatory tigers’. If parked facing towards a house or office building, they create a threat to the occupants of the building.Remove clutter from the car: it ‘sucks the life force out of the driver’.If using wi-fi connections such as…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Psychology Comments (11)
Brain Gym
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 11, 2006
Status: Highly dubious Based on the description on the Brain Gym website, Brain Gym sounds like a pretty good idea. It's "a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in ALL areas." The program, which consists of 26 different exercises, is now being used in a lot of schools to help kids learn. Exercise can definitely improve mental acuity, so having kids do something like this would seem to make sense. But as Ben Goldacre revealed in a recent Bad Science column, the concept is a lot more bogus than it appears at first blush. The reason is that all kinds of dubious and pseudoscientific claims are made on behalf of these exercises.…
Categories: Psychology, Sports Comments (18)
Twenty Phobias
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 06, 2006
Status: Bogus fears The BBC invited its readers to tell them what their greatest fears were, and has posted a selection of 20 of the responses. Some of them are hard to take seriously. Especially this one: The letter Y: "M phobia is all about the letter . Ever time I tr to press it on the ke board, it makes me want to cr . I know it seems sill to ever one else, but it all started when I was a bab , and I swallowed a magnetic letter. At least that's what My mumm and dadd told me an wa ." Paul Davies, Swindon, UK This…
Categories: Psychology Comments (21)
Fake Smiles May Cause Depression
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 17, 2006
Status: Medical study New research by Dr. Dieter Zapf of Frankfurt University suggests that workers who constantly have to pretend to be friendly to customers suffer from higher rates of depression and illness. The Advertiser reports: Flight attendants, sales personnel and call centre operators are most at risk, say psychologists at Frankfurt University. People in these jobs are more likely to suffer from depression, according to the study released yesterday ahead of publication in consumer magazine Good Advice. "Every time a person is forced to repress his true feelings, there are negative consequences for his health," said Professor Dieter Zapf, a researcher into human emotions. I'm a…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Psychology Comments (23)
Fredding
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 13, 2006
Status: Undetermined (is it a joke or meant seriously?) David Mocknick has written a self-help book that describes a novel new form of stress therapy: Fredding. This involves saying the phrase "Fred! Who's Fred? Ha!" It's not clear to me whether he's serious about this, or if it's all an elaborate joke (in which getting people to think he's serious is part of the joke). An article about his book explains: Fredding (which can be done in solitaire but works best in a group setting) begins when someone "baits" another person by getting him or her to say a word that…
Categories: Psychology Comments (17)
Indigo Children See The Future
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 13, 2005
Status: New Age Mumbo Jumbo Indigo Children is a new-age term for children whose aura is indigo colored. These are the kids whom medical science would diagnose as being hyperactive or having ADD (and many lay people might diagnose as spoiled brats). But according to the indigo-child theory, these are actually children with very special powers. Nancy Ann Tappe, the psychic who first described the concept, says that Indigo Children are "souls with an evolved consciousness who have come here to help change the vibrations of our lives and create one land, one globe and one species. They are our bridge to the future." The Skeptic's Dictionary has some good info on the subject. …
Categories: Future/Time, Psychology Comments (141)
Sexsomnia
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 01, 2005
Status: Real (though difficult to accept as an excuse for criminal behavior) I first reported about the phenomenon of sleep sex over a year ago. It's a rare disorder that causes people to engage in sexual behavior while asleep. It's also potentially one of the greatest excuses for sexual impropriety ever devised. Now there's a case in Canada in which a guy successfully defended himself against charges of sexual assault by arguing that he's a sexsomniac: Jan Luedecke, 33, met his victim at a party on July 6, 2003, and both had been drinking, the Toronto Sun reported. The woman, who can't be named, fell asleep on a couch and said she…
Categories: Psychology, Sex/Romance Comments (35)
Fake Smile Test
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 16, 2005
Status: Psychology test I've linked to a fake smile test before, but this one hosted by the BBC (and designed by Professor Paul Ekman, from the University of California) is more elaborate since it allows you to see actual video clips of people smiling. I did quite badly at differentiating the real from the fake, scoring only 9 out of 20. The blurb at the conclusion of the test notes that "Most people are surprisingly bad at spotting fake smiles. One possible explanation for this is that it may be easier for people to get along if they don't always know what…
Categories: Psychology Comments (37)
By-Accident.com
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 14, 2005
Status: Hoax Website By-Accident.com claims to be a company that will "deliver customized accidents such as rape, assault and past traumatic experiences. All personally tailored to suit your special needs." The idea is that you can fake a traumatic experience in your past, and thereby get all kinds of attention as a victim. The company will even provide (optional) Aesthetic Scar Surgery to make your past "accident" more believable: "You can have any physical damage you want, our trained surgeons promise it won't hurt and the result will be exactly as you wish." By-Accident.com is a hoax. Satirical elements such as the…
Categories: Psychology, Websites Comments (3)
Gene Guess
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 10, 2005
Status: Hoax (supposedly a magic trick, but it doesn't work) I received this polite request this morning: Dear web master , Please review this website that is able to determine a persons sex just by four visual questions. Name : Gene Guess .com Link : http://www.geneguess.com Thank you , Pras Til So here goes: it worked for me, correctly guessing my gender. I suppose it was an interesting ten-second time waster. I don't know why it worked. Obviously it has a 50/50 chance of getting the answer right (unless you're a hermaphrodite, which might trip it up a bit). My theory is that the color…
Categories: Psychology, Websites Comments (37)
Mindbending Software
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 03, 2005
Status: Art Project Mindbending Software claims to offer programs that will insert subliminal messages into the favorite computer games of your kids, thereby reprogramming them, as they play the games, to do as you wish. Their website states: Mindbending Software Inc. is a company specialized on psychological conditioning software packages for children. With the newest technologies our products infiltrate the computer games of your kids and mingle various subconscious or conscious conditiong messages and images in the game contents. The technology can be compared with the subconscious pictures in the TV program, and if you don’t know about them, ask yourself…
Categories: Psychology, Websites Comments (6)
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