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In his new article in the hoaxipedia, Elliot gives some background info on the Church of the SubGenius -- the church which may represent a genuine religious movement, or may be just an elaborate joke.

The Church of the SubGenius is affiliated with the Universal Life Church, "an organization that has been legally (in some states) offering tax-exempt ministerships to all who apply regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation." Years ago I sent away to become a Universal Life Church minister, but I no longer have any clue where I put the sheet of paper saying I'm a minister.

I've sometimes thought about starting my own church. It would be the Church of the Great Hoax. Its motto would be: "Whatever you believe, it's wrong."
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 05, 2007
Comments (16)
At least two or three faces seen in trees seem to get reported a month, and I faithfully note them here. Here are the latest:

imageLodi, California: Emily West was doing some meditating over the weekend in her sister's backyard in central Lodi when something caught her eye. "I looked up and saw the face of Christ in the fence and I said, "Whoa," West said. She called her sister Ana over to ask what she saw. She too agreed, it was the Son of God.

Cranky Media Guy forwarded me this story with the comment, "If this is the face of Jesus, then the Son of God is wearing one of those laser-equipped face masks like the Cylons on the original Battlestar Galactica." Yes, well that sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Jesus might be a big Battlestar Galactica fan.

And here's a a second face in a tree seen in Portland, Maine, though there are no details about exactly where it was seen, or by whom.


The thing about this image is that I can see two faces. There's the one on the left, outlined in blue lines below. But there's also the face outlined in green lines (on the right), which is actually the one I saw first.

Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sat Sep 01, 2007
Comments (16)
Due to personal circumstances, this week's Best of the Forum post is brought to you by guest writer and board moderator Madmouse.

Unauthorised Reincarnation Banned in Tibet (MadCarlotta)
China has banned Buddhists from reincarnating without permission, in an apparent attempt to have the next Dalai Lama chosen by the Chinese government.
From the news article:
"According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

This could lead to a situation where there are two Dalai Lamas, one recognised by millions of Buddhists around the world, and one by the Chinese government.
I don’t know how much of an effect this would have, but it would be a situation best avoided, if possible.

Skype Outage Caused By U.S. Government Spy Plan? (LaMa)
There’s been a lot of discussion in the forum about this conspiracy theory. says:
“Skype says the problem was triggered by a Microsoft patch, delivered by Windows Update, which caused an automatic reboot of many PCs. "The high number of restarts affected Skype's network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction," says Skype's Villu Arak. According to Arak, the system would normally have recovered quickly, but on this occasion "a previously unseen bug" caused the network to fail.”
However, this news item suggests that the outage was in fact caused by the introduction of eavesdropping technology, made permissible by a newly-introduced law.

Online Game Used As Epidemic Scenario (Hulitoons)
Scientists have been studying players’ reactions to a disease in online game ‘World of Warcraft’. The researchers say that the information gathered about people’s varying reactions to a crisis like this could prove useful in the event of a genuine epidemic.
From the BBC article:
Researcher Professor Nina Fefferman, from Tufts University School of Medicine, said: “Human behaviour has a big impact on disease spread. And virtual worlds offer an excellent platform for studying human behaviour.The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously, even though it was only a game.”
Even if people might act somewhat differently in a game, I think that this is a reasonable (and safe) way of gathering data.

Rampant Rabbit In Stick-Up (Dave and Madmouse)
A man was jailed for five years for a robbery at a bookmakers in which he used the sex toy instead of a gun. The vibrator was hidden in a carrier bag, and seemed realistic enough that the shop staff handed over £600.
I do wonder what on earth made him think of using that rather than, say, a toy gun…
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime, Religion, Sex/Romance, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Aug 24, 2007
Comments (11)
image A Texas woman thinks a pattern in the trunk of a tree in the parking lot of her local supermarket looks like a pair of angel wings. And, for good measure, she also thinks she might see Jesus there too. The woman, Gayle Griffin, says:

"I was drawn to this tree. Something compelled me to take pictures. Something kept telling me to go back." Maybe that something was her need to buy groceries.

So this is another tree to add to my growing list of images in trees. The wing pattern is quite easy to see, but does it count if the bark has been ripped off, as looks to be the case?

Interestingly, this Jesus/Angel Wing tree is located in the same area that the famous Screen Door Jesus appeared in, back in 1969. Screen Door Jesus recently became the title of a movie (though I don't think the movie is actually about the 1969 incident). There was also a recent movie called Tortilla Heaven inspired by the case of the face of Jesus supposedly visible on a corn tortilla.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 20, 2007
Comments (16)
image Here's yet another image of Jesus on a tree to add to my collection.

Irma Lopez, of Moorpark, CA, was watering her front yard when, she says, "I noticed an area on the tree that resembles Jesus. I threw down the hose and told my daughter Lisa to come outside." Lisa happens to be pregnant, and neighbors are suggesting that the image and her pregnancy might somehow be related... i.e. that the sudden appearance of the image is a "sign of God," "a true blessing for her and her family." More likely, it's just another case of pareidolia.

Sometimes these faces in trees are easy to see, but quite frankly, I'm not seeing anything on this tree.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 03, 2007
Comments (14)
An Italian scholar, Slavisa Pesci, claims to have uncovered new secret images hidden in Da Vinci's Last Supper by superimposing the painting on to its mirror image. When you do this you can supposedly see a woman holding a child, as well as a goblet in front of Jesus. Personally, I can't see anything at all. It all looks like a blurry mess. But Pesci seems to feel that Da Vinci intended for his painting to be viewed this way. He says, "from some of the details you can infer that we are not talking about chance but about a precise calculation."

Two years ago I posted about another Last Supper theory: The idea that an image of the holy grail is hidden in the painting, located on the wall above the head of St. Bartholomew, the disciple at the extreme left.

The hidden holy grail theory seems a lot more plausible to me than this mirror-image theory. (Thanks, Big Gary)
Categories: Art, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 01, 2007
Comments (9)
In a Buddhist temple in Singapore, stored inside a solid gold stupa, lies a tooth. The monks who run the temple claim that it's the Buddha's tooth. But others are not so sure. Apparently, "some experts have reportedly questioned whether the tooth is from the Buddha himself." Wow! It's hard to imagine something like this would be fake.

The problem seems to be that the tooth looks suspiciously like the tooth of a herbivore, such as a horse or a buffalo. Apparently vendors in places such as Myanmar often try to sell similar-looking teeth to tourists. Vets have confirmed that the teeth the vendors sell come from herbivores.

However, the monks in the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple are not about to let scientists do any tests on their Buddha's tooth. They argue that DNA testing is an invasive procedure and is a practical challenge to conduct. Plus, once it's confirmed as a fake, they'd be out of a job.

My favorite line from the Channel NewsAsia article: Renowned artist Tan Swie Hian says, "I don't mind praying to a buffalo's tooth provided I'm told it is one. Let me get it right before my prayer."
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 23, 2007
Comments (5)
A young Indian boy is claiming to be the reincarnation of an American scientist. According to the article linked below, he speaks mostly gibberish with a few "scientific" words mixed in. Proof enough for me! I especially like the next-to-last paragraph of the article. [Thanks to the reader who submitted this story]

Indian boy claims to be reincarnation of American scientist
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Identity/Imposters, Mass Delusion, Religion
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 17, 2007
Comments (18)
Like with the iPhone (story below), I sincerely doubt I have to tell you who Paris Hilton is. I'm not sure, however, any of us could say what exactly it is she does for a living. Well, I've read that she charges Big Bucks to appear at people's parties, but what do you write on your tax forms in the box that says "Occupation" if that's what you do?

The "hoax" I'm referring to here, though, is her alleged conversion to--what? Christianity? Zoroastrianism? Scientology? Whatever sect she's aligning herself with now, she's turned over a new leaf after her stint in Oz. Sure, in the Olden Days, a person might have to rot on Devil's Island for years before deciding that there is a Controlling Entity in the Universe that one should respect, but in our accelerated age, apparently 23 days of wearing an unflattering orange jumpsuit can have the same effect on a person.

I note with interest that the New Improved Paris is wearing either no makeup or less obvious makeup since her brush with Fashion Hell. Sorry for being cynical, P.H., but I think the New You is more attributable to New P.R. than an epiphany.


According to this story, took bets on whether or not Paris would talk about God during her Larry King interview Wednesday night.
Categories: Celebrities, Religion
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Thu Jun 28, 2007
Comments (16)
image Memphis church-goers claim that the face of God has appeared in the ceiling of their church. The story of the image's first appearance is quite dramatic:
Pastor Reginald Lowery of Miracle Crusade Bible Church Holiness said it all started one Friday night at his church, located near 6th and Looney. "I was preaching on 'God Knows Where We Are,' and all of a sudden a big bang hit the church," he said. With that, Lowery said, alarms all over the neighborhood started going off, including those at the church. Then, according to the pastor, something else happened. "The lights on the inside went to solid gold," he said. It was then that Lowery's daughter first saw it: The face of God on the church's ceiling.
The catch is that you can only see the image while looking through a camera -- apparently a cellphone camera works best. (God works in mysterious ways.) The bottom thumbnail shows the face through a cellphone camera, and it is actually easier to see what they're talking about that way. The higher contrast accentuates the pattern.

The wmctv article notes that "skeptics may claim the face is simply a reflection from a light hanging from the church's ceiling." I actually think it looks like the face of a giant cat. (via Fortean News)

Update: The same news channel also has a story about the face of Jesus in a tree outside a Memphis church (a two-for-one pareidolia feature). I added this to my list of faces in trees in the hoaxipedia.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 21, 2007
Comments (13)
I was inspired by the news story about the mayor's face in a tree to search out other examples of faces in trees. I knew that stories about faces in trees pop up regularly in the news, but to my knowledge no one had ever collected these stories together in one place. So it seemed like an appropriate thing to waste a couple of hours doing. I posted the results in the hoaxipedia. It's more faces in trees than you can shake a stick at.
Categories: Mass Delusion, Pareidolia, Psychology, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 08, 2007
Comments (0)
Jesus on Google Maps
Brian Martin claims that he saw the shape of Jesus in the clouds above Mount Sinai.
(Thanks, Madmouse.)

Cat Gives Birth to 'Puppy'
Following on from the Japanese poodle scam hoax, this made me laugh.
A cat in Zhengzhou, China has supposedly given birth to a litter of four, one of which looks like a poodle. There are no pictures to accompany the article, however.
(Thanks, Robert.)

Sexism in Tetris
It seems a lot of people didn't realise the April 1st post on this computer site was a joke.
(Thanks, ponygirl.)
Categories: Animals, Literature/Language, Places, Religion, Websites
Posted by Flora on Wed May 02, 2007
Comments (6)
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