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For over three years, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has been offering peace of mind to Rapture believers. Should the Rapture come, and the devout are whisked away up to Heaven, this service will take care of their pets that are left behind — for a small fee of $135 per pet.

But now Bloomberg News is reporting that the business was all just a hoax concocted by Bart Centre, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, in order to promote his book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles. Bloomberg quotes him as saying:

The entire thing was a hoax. What we call on the Internet a poe, a spoof, a parody, a complete fiction. It was all a fiction from the very start. I never had any intent to accept contracts for our service or payment for our service and I never did... I was so concerned that people would actually pay me for the service that I eventually disabled the payment button.

Centre also explains that he's revealing the hoax now because, "the State of New Hampshire’s Insurance Department has asked me to discuss my ‘insurance’ offering... and provide them with all the names of NH clients who have signed on and paid for my pet rescue post rapture service."

It's a shame. I thought the service sounded like a good idea, and a perfectly reasonable business proposition. If someone believes the rapture is on its way, why shouldn't they pay to have their pets taken care of post-rapture?

Categories: Animals, Religion, Websites
Posted by Alex on Sat Mar 17, 2012
Comments (2)
This might be in the running for the stupidest pareidolia ever. Floridian Guerda Maurice was watching the Bachelor on TV when she saw a design she wanted to take a picture of. (A design? I have no idea what she means by that.) So she picks up her phone and takes a picture of the TV screen. Later she looks at the picture she took and sees "Jesus picture". That is, there was a reflection on the screen that she thought looked like Jesus. She was so excited that she made a locket out of TV Screen Jesus. Link: wtsp.com. (Thanks, Bob!)



Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Mar 15, 2012
Comments (2)

(via reddit)
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 16, 2012
Comments (4)
concrete jesusVirgin Mary Sea Shell
Felicia Avila of Rio Grande Valley found a sea shell that she says bears the image of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus. valleycentral.com

concrete jesusVirgin Mary Rock
Tammy Tollett was vacationing in Lake Tahoe when she found a rock that she believes looks like the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. She says this is the real deal (unlike, presumably, all those other phony pareidolia). orlandosentinel.com

concrete jesusConcrete Jesus Face
The face of Jesus materialized on Mary Vasquez's concrete patio. She's lived in the apartment for 18 months, but only noticed the Jesus face recently. Apparently she first tried scrubbing the face off her patio with soap. When that didn't work, she called the local newspaper. the33tv.com.

concrete jesusJesus on Cross
Clay Perry recently made a 7-inch cross from some leftover scraps of poplar wood. Then the grandfather of his nephew noticed it appeared to have the face of Jesus on it... right where the face should be at the top of the cross. Personally, I'm not seeing it. 11alive.com.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 05, 2011
Comments (2)
I was walking through La Mesa last night (La Mesa, where I live, is a suburb of San Diego), when I came across a flyer for the Creation & Earth History Museum, which is down the road in Santee.


creation flyer


At the bottom of the flyer, as you can see, is a list of sponsors. Scantibodies, NOTW, 1:1, Christian Examiner, and KSDW didn't surprise me. They're all christian organizations. (The founders of the Creation Museum were also the founders of Scantibodies. KSDW is a bible radio station, and I don't know what 1:1 is, but I'm assuming it's some kind of reference to a biblical verse.)

But Krispy Kreme and Chick-fil-a surprised me. They're sponsoring creation science? Seems like an odd publicity move for them. Am I now going to have to boycott them? (Not that I go to either one much already.) I've sent their pr offices an email to confirm that this sponsorship is real.

Even odder is that I don't believe there's either a Krispy Kreme or a Chick-fil-a in Santee itself. So it's not like they're neighbors.

As I was contemplating this flyer, it occurred to me that a perfect location for the Museum of Hoaxes would be to park it right next door to the Creation Museum. I could work there and stay in San Diego.

Edit: Apparently Chick-fil-a is an openly Christian corporation, which leaves Krispy Kreme as the odd-man-out in the list of sponsors.
Categories: Pseudoscience, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 02, 2011
Comments (22)
Archaeologists have found a burial shroud sealed within a 2000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem. Comparing the newly found shroud to the Shroud of Turin adds to the evidence that the Shroud of Turin is a fake. From nationalgeographic.com:

The newfound shroud was something of a patchwork of simply woven linen and wool textiles, the study found. The Shroud of Turin, by contrast, is made of a single textile woven in a complex twill pattern, a type of cloth not known to have been available in the region until medieval times, Gibson said.
Categories: History, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 21, 2009
Comments (44)
Thanks to Peter for drawing our attention to this strange new concept. (Link to his forum post.) Apparently side hugging is gaining popularity in the land of conservative Christians. The idea is to avoid the dangerous risk of "two crotches touching." Therefore:

Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their’s. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you’re taking a photo and you’re both looking at the camera together. The side hug, or A frame as it is also called, is safe for the whole family, friendly and above all holy.

But upon closer examination, I think this is another example of Poe's Law. In other words, it's satire. The concept of the side hug traces back to the humor site Stuff Christians Like, where it's identified as satire.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 17, 2009
Comments (21)
Outrageous! A young boy was suspended from school for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross! Let's all get worked up about this.

Oh, wait a second. Turns out the story was mostly b.s. cooked up by the boy's father. The boy wasn't suspended, though a teacher did order a psychological evaluation of the boy: "She said the drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, on the cross, which prompted the teacher to alert the school’s principal and staff psychologist. As a result, the boy underwent a psychological evaluation."

Link: boston.com (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 17, 2009
Comments (5)
Earlier this year Barbara Frale made headlines by arguing that the Shroud of Turin was hidden for over 100 years by the Knights Templar. Now she's back, claiming to have found writing on the Shroud that identifies the figure as Jesus Christ. From startribune.com:

Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, said Friday that she used computers to enhance images of faintly written words in Greek, Latin and Aramaic scattered across the shroud.
She asserts the words include the name "Jesus Nazarene" in Greek, proving the text could not be of medieval origin because no Christian at the time, even a forger, would have labeled Jesus a Nazarene without referring to his divinity.

Thanks to Cranky Media Guy for forwarding me the link. I can't top his comment: "She also found a tag reading 'Dry Clean Only.'"
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Nov 20, 2009
Comments (6)
Mass: We Pray claims to be a new video game that allows you to simulate going to church, without ever leaving home. Shacknews.com reports receiving a press release from Prayer Works Interactive, the maker of this purported product. An excerpt follows:

Mass: We Pray is the first of many worship-themed games in development for Prayer Works Interactive. Just like with any videogame, families can use a television as a monitor to play. Then, they can use the CROSS, a proprietary, wireless, cross-shaped controller to participate in 24 unique and exhilarating rituals. Make the Sign of the Cross, sprinkle Holy Water, take Collection and even give Holy Communion. Every motion and nuance of a blessing or ritual is detected in three dimensions and replicated on-screen.

Can this be real? As often with claims of a religious nature, Poe's law rears its head. (The real religious stuff is often so crazy that it's indistinguishable from the spoof stuff). But let's review some of the typical signs that a website is a hoax:
  1. The site makes a claim that seems outrageous or absurd.
  2. It advertises a product, but doesn't actually allow you to buy it.
  3. It's registered anonymously, and no business address is provided.
  4. Although you can't buy the main product, you can buy a related t-shirt or mug.
  5. Google ads (or other unrelated ads) are posted to profit from traffic to the site.
An outrageous or absurd claim? Check. You can't buy Mass: We Pray, but the company claims that on Friday, Nov. 20 you'll be able to pre-order it. (Let's wait and see if they hold true to that promise.) The website is also registered anonymously through Domain Discreet, and Prayer Works Interactive offers no business address.

That's three signs of being a hoax. So my guess is that Mass: We Pray is probably fake. But the real test, of course, will be to wait and see if they ever offer this thing for sale.

Below is a video demonstration of the game.



Update: On November 20 Mass: We Pray was revealed to be a hoax. (No surprise there!) The pre-order link, which previously had been dead, became clickable, leading to an ad for the video game Dante's Inferno.

(Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Advertising, Religion, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 19, 2009
Comments (9)
Visions of the Virgin Mary have been predicted in Knock, Ireland. From the Irish Times:

some 5,000 people gathered [in Knock] in the hope of seeing an apparition of Our Lady, following the prediction by Dubliner Joe Coleman, who describes himself as “a visionary of our Blessed Mother and a spiritual healer under the energy of the Holy Spirit”. A video posted on YouTube of the sun breaking through the clouds at Knock on October 11th, with a voiceover by Coleman, has to date attracted almost 10,500 views.

Meanwhile, skeptics are pointing out, once again, that the original vision of the Virgin Mary in Knock in 1879 was probably a hoax:

Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Independent newspaper says his grandfather, a farmer from near the area, believed like many at the time that it was two local policemen with a magic lantern, a device that was widespread in the 19th century which allowed a small lightbox to project an image on a wall, who did it.
Others have suggested that a returning Irish American brought the magic lantern back, though magic lantern tours of rural Ireland and Britain were common at the time.

The Knock Shrine article on Wikipedia has more background info.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 02, 2009
Comments (0)
Even though the famous atheist’s body [Madalyn Murray O’Hair] was discovered in 1998 and positively identified in Texas -- and even though she apparently has been dead since she disappeared in 1995 -- patently false rumors about her alleged anti-Christian campaigns continue to spread. Credulous Christians who once forwarded these kinds of rumors in mimeographed chain letters or spread them on talk radio now can broadcast them around the world with the mere click of a mouse.

Link: apbnews.com
(Thanks, Big Gary!)
Categories: Religion, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 21, 2009
Comments (7)
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