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Brits flunk honesty test
A credit-card protection firm, Affinion International, conducted an experiment in which they left items such as mobile phones, key, and wallets in city centres (Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, and Manchester). All the items were clearly marked with the owner's contact number, but most were never returned. Not surprising.

Obscene messages end graffiti experiment
Officials in Louisville tried to give graffiti artists a legal place to practice their craft, but abandoned the experiment after the concrete walls simply became filled with obscene messages. The walls will now be painted beige... and will doubtless soon be covered with illegal graffiti.

Man from Tooting becomes Hindu Goddess
Steve Cooper was just a run-of-the-mill unemployed guy in his hometown of Tooting, England. But when he moved to India he became known as the reincarnation of Bahucharaji, the patron of Indian eunuchs. I wonder how exactly he came into this new career. That's a story I'd like to know.

Mozart Effect debunked
A study commissioned by the German government has officially debunked the Mozart Effect -- which is the idea that listening to certain kinds of classical music will raise a person's intelligence.
Categories: Art, Psychology, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 17, 2007
Comments (5)
image102-year-old Saleh Talib Saleh says he had had dreams when he was younger of growing horns from his head.
At the age of 77, he started noticing a hard patch on his scalp. It wasn’t really bothering him and, since at the time there were no local medical facilities, he just ignored it.
Gradually, the hard patch grew into what looked like a horn. The growth reached 1.6 feet before the stress on it, due to everyday life, caused it to weaken and fall off.

Almost immediately, a second ‘horn’ began growing in the place of the first. Many people from around the Gulf countries have travelled to visit Saleh in order to view what he considers to be a ‘gift from Allah’.

So, is this story true?
Well, I haven’t been able to track down much coverage of it (these aren’t the easiest search terms to isolate). Saleh has said he had no local medical facilities when he first grew the horn, but there is no mention of his having been to see a doctor (or a doctor seeing him) in the following twenty-five years. The only photograph I’ve found is the one in the linked article.

(Thanks, Tah.)

Edit: The complete photograph (shown in the article) seems to have some sort of Arabic writing at the bottom. Can anyone translate?
Categories: Health/Medicine, Photos/Videos, Religion
Posted by Flora on Wed Feb 28, 2007
Comments (23)
image
Statue of Jesus Shoots Sparks
Visitors to the Liverpool Academy of Art have claimed that a sculpture of Jesus has shot sparks from its eyes. 'Cleansing of the Temple' by Brian Burgess is a steel and bronze statue. Some visitors have also apparently gone into a trance whilst kneeling at the base of the sculpture. The artist says: "I worked on the piece for about a year but I never saw any sparks apart from those coming from the welding torch."
Forum thread here.
(Thanks, Madmouse.)

Snorkeler Mistaken for Rodent
John William Cheesman was shot in the face whilst diving when a 60-year-old man mistook him for a nutria - a type of water-dwelling South American rodent. The shooter, William Roderick, has been charged with assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana.

Bald Hall of Fame
This website features a gallery of celebrities. Bald.
Categories: Art, Celebrities, Law/Police/Crime, Religion
Posted by Flora on Tue Feb 13, 2007
Comments (7)
image
Chicken Born With Duck Feet
A chicken in Columbia has surprised everyone by being born with webbed feet and legs like a duck. Vetinary experts say that the chicken is not a result of cross-species breeding, and is just a genetic mishap.
(Thanks, Adam.)

Divine Or Delusional?
wcbstv.com has a gallery of images showing items on which religious icons have allegedly been found. We've covered a few of them here, but some of the images were new to me. I found I could generally make out the figure or face or whatever was being claimed to be there, if I squinted or tilted my head, however some of them were really beyond my ability to make out, even though I was trying to. Personally, I accredit these phenomena to pareidolia.

Vatican Newspaper Denounces Fake Penitent
The Vatican Newspaper has attacked a reporter who, in the course of writing an article for a magazine, made false confessions to 24 different priests. The article the reporter was writing was researching whether priests followed the strict teachings of the church, and how they handled difficult situations in which to give advice.

Museum of Hoaxes is Site of the Week
Scifi.com has this week chosen the Museum of Hoaxes as its Site of the Week.
(Thanks, Hulitoons.)
Categories: Advertising, Animals, Journalism, Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Flora on Sun Feb 11, 2007
Comments (15)

Holy Spatula
A spatula used to flip a pancake that supposedly had the image of Jesus on it is now up for sale on ebay. The pancake itself was eaten. The seller says: ”Look closely at the middle photo, and you can see that it bears some mysterious symbols, possibly some kind of sacred message. I'm no religious scholar, but I'm sure this had some kind of spiritual significance.”

Art as Prank
A ‘Your Ad Here’ illuminated sign on the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles proved to be the work of L.A. graphic artist James Cui.

Man Fakes Robbery to Get Back to Prison
Danny Robert Villegas enjoyed prison so much that he staged a robbery in order to get sent back.
Categories: Art, Law/Police/Crime, Pranks, Religion
Posted by Flora on Tue Jan 16, 2007
Comments (13)
Last year a plastic baby Jesus was stolen from the nativity scene outside the home of the Leising family in Buffalo, New York. The Leisings were devestated, feeling that Jesus should have been off-limit from pranks. But recently Baby Jesus reappeared on their doorstep, along with a book titled "Baby Jesus Chronicles" that showed all the adventures he had been on during the past year. He had been camping, made brownies, went on a bike ride, had a few drinks, etc. Mrs. Leising commented, "They didn't go anywhere real expensive and spend a lot of money on Jesus, but they showed him a really good time." So now all is forgiven. This year Jesus is back in their nativity scene.

image image
Categories: Gnomes, Pranks, Religion
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 21, 2006
Comments (6)

The Apostles of O'Neill
A group of college kids living in a Washington DC house were informed that they were violating zoning laws that allowed only six people to live in one house. But they did some homework and discovered that 15 people are allowed per house, if it's a residence for a "religious community." Therefore, they've filed paperwork incorporating themselves as a nonprofit religious organization. They call themselves the Apostles of O'Neill.

Nessie could not have been a plesiosaur
Leslie Noe of the Sedgwick Museum has figured out that Nessie cannot be a plesiosaur. Why? Because plesiosaurs couldn't hold their necks above water: "Calculating the articulation of the neck bones, he concluded the neck was flexible and could move easily when pointing down. He explained how the neck was like a feeding tube, to collect soft-bodied prey: The small skulls of plesiosaurs couldn't cope with hard-shelled prey. However, the osteology of the neck makes it absolutely certain that the plesiosaur could not lift its head out of the water - as most alleged pictures of Nessie show."

Fake John Paul II Cloth Relics
The relic trade is alive and well. Souvenir shops near the Vatican are selling "medallions enclosing a tiny shred of cloth and labelled 'relics of John Paul II.'" No word on if they cure any ailments.

"There's a tick on you" as pick-up line
Here's the latest desperate pick-up strategy some guy has dreamed up. He tells women there's a tick on them and then starts pulling their clothes off. The strategy doesn't seem to be working.

Another Message in a Bottle found
Thirty years ago Marie Myatt threw a message in a bottle into the ocean. Recently it was found, just a few kilometres away from where she threw it. Sounds plausible enough. I'm inclined to think this isn't a hoax. (Thanks, Robert)
Categories: Cryptozoology, Exploration/Travel, Religion, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 13, 2006
Comments (17)

Gnome Liberation Front Strikes Again
On Nov. 1 79 garden gnomes were liberated by the Garden Gnome Liberation Front in France. The gnomes were later found along the bank of a stream "in some underbrush with a banner that read, 'gnome mistreated, gnome liberated.'"

Fake Priests in Japan
The BBC has an article about the growing popularity of using fake priests at Japanese weddings: "The fake Western priests are employed at Western-style weddings to give a performance and add to the atmosphere. These are not legal ceremonies - the couples also have to make a trip to the local registrar." Apparently it's becoming quite a big business. I also wrote about this in Hippo Eats Dwarf, so it's not exactly new news.

New Kidney Turning Man into his Wife
Ian Gammons received a kidney transplant from his wife. Now he claims that the kidney is slowly causing him to adopt her personality traits: "Now the 51-year-old Briton is never happier than when baking scones or "wandering round the shops and looking for bargains", he says. He has even begun to share his wife's love of dogs, an animal he despised before receiving the kidney a year ago."

Uri Geller Claims Remote Viewing Helped US Find Hussein
Of course, we all know how credible Uri Geller is, so when he says something like this it immediately commands our respect. Remember his appearance on the Tonight Show?

New Political Dirty Trick: Robocalls
The GOP is being accused of making robocalls: tape-recorded phone messages that appear to be made by their Democratic rivals. The strategy is to make voters so disgusted by getting all these automated calls, often receiving them late at night, that they'll decide to switch their vote to the candidate not making those calls, i.e. the GOP.
Categories: Gnomes, Military, Paranormal, Politics, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 07, 2006
Comments (13)
If you feel deprived because you've never had a vision of Jesus, here's your chance to see him float before your eyes. Just look at the image below and follow these instructions (via somareview).

1. Relax and concentrate on the four small dots in the middle of the image for roughly 30 or 40 seconds.
2. Then, stare at a blank wall near you (any smooth, single-colored surface will do).
3. You will see a circle of light developing—the onset of a holy vision.
4. Blink your eyes a few times as the figure begins to emerge.
5. What do you see? Or rather, who do you see?... Congratulations. You just had a religious sighting!

image

Once you've had your fun with that, consider this link (getbehindjesus.net) sent in by Phred who writes: "I suspect this was done with Photoshop and that its perpetrators firmly have their tongue in cheek but, see for yourself." I also think "get behind Jesus" was more than slightly enhanced by Photoshop (the superimposed image of Jesus helps to clarify the miracle). The link may not be safe for work (if a picture of a dog's posterior would offend your boss) or for people whose religious sensibilities would be easily offended.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 18, 2006
Comments (15)
imageI'm posting a lot of these lately. I guess it's Religious Icon season or something.

Shirley McVane believes her two-year-old turtle is developing an image of the Virgin Mary on its belly.

"I told some of my friends, you know, 'I got a turtle,' and I said it has the image of the Virgin Mary on it, and I said it's getting plainer and plainer, and they said 'Yeah, Shirley, you're 81 years old. You think we believe that?' I said it's the truth, so now they all believe it," said McVane.
She has since renamed the turtle and its mate (you guessed it!) Mary and Joseph.

Is it just me, or are these getting weaker and weaker?
Cute turtle, though.
Categories: Animals, Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Flora on Mon Aug 28, 2006
Comments (24)

Do you want to be a gigolo?
Malaysian men promised that, for a fee, they can become well-paid gigolos. It's the old dream job scam. One sucker "was told to meet a client at a city hotel. He waited for hours until he spotted a Western women who seemed to be searching for someone. 'I thought she was my client so I approached her and introduced myself. To my surprise, instead of receiving words of welcome, I got cursed and insulted,' he told the daily."

Dumb Robber #1
Forgets to bring bag for money as he robs bank. Consequently ends up dropping most of the money during the getaway.

Dumb Robber #2
Man attempts to hold up bank. Finds out the building he's in is not a bank. He thought it was because of the presence of an ATM machine.

Lost Candy Bars
If you're a fan of Lost, you might want to try some Apollo Candy Bars, being distributed at events across the country. The Apollo Candy Company is a subsidiary of The Hanso Group, which should be familiar to Lost fans. I should add Apollo Candy to my list of Lost-related hoax websites.

Church ponders possible balloon hoax
On July 23 the Gibbsville Reformed Church in Wisconsin released 600 balloons into the air. Attached to the balloons were tags saying, "When you find me, please send a note to my church." The Church soon received word from Indiana and Kentucky of found balloons. Then a tag was returned to them from China. The pastor is suspicious: "We're thinking it may be just somebody's idea of a joke, which puts us in a little bit of a bad spot. Just the fact that it wasn't signed was somewhat suspicious. There's probably some good sermon (material) in here somehow."
Categories: Con Artists, Entertainment, Law/Police/Crime, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 28, 2006
Comments (11)
imageFollowing hot on the heels of the chocolate Virgin Mary (which, as many people pointed out, looked more like the Maltese Falcon) comes: Jesus as seen on an ultrasound picture.

Seven months through her pregnancy, Laura Turner went for a routine ultrasound. She already knew that her son had a cleft lip, and she and her partner had been told there was a possibility of the child having Down's Syndrome. She says that she didn't notice anything particularly odd about the scan until a friend pointed it out once they got home.

'The pregnancy has been fairly difficult so to see a likeness of Jesus in the picture gives me a lot of comfort.

'It's as if someone is watching over Joshua. It's helped make us feel more at ease and although I'm not very religious, seeing the picture does reassure me that things are going to turn out okay and that Joshua will be our little miracle.'

I suppose that, what with the difficult pregnancy, it's a very heartening sign for her.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Health/Medicine, Pareidolia, Photos/Videos, Psychology, Religion
Posted by Flora on Thu Aug 24, 2006
Comments (12)
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