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Category: Science
Transgenic, hair-growing plants
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 04, 2004
New Scientist has published an interview with Laura Cinti, an artist who claims that she has collaborated with an unnamed genetics lab in order to create a transgenic cactus that grows human hair. Christopher Chauvin brought this to my attention, and, like him, I'm a bit skeptical of Cinti's claims. First of all, it seems like quite a scientific achievement to get a cactus to grow human hair. Second, it seems suspicious that the lab that did the work can't be named. Third, it doesn't appear that any independent scientists have actually examined these hirsute cactuses to see if all is as she claims it is. Cinti has a website,
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The Almost Great Dragon Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 28, 2004
A tiny dragon, pickled in formaldehyde, has been found in a garage in Oxfordshire. Its origins trace back to the 1890s when it was given to the British Natural History Museum by German scientists. Evidently the Germans were trying to play a joke on their British counterparts by getting them to believe that this tiny dragon was real. But the British didn't fall for it and threw the dragon away. Luckily someone saved it, and somehow, years later, it ended up in the Oxfordshire garage. Someone must have put a lot of work into creating the dragon, because it looks incredibly lifelike.
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Piltdown Man
Posted by The Curator on Sat Nov 22, 2003
Dr. Miles Russell argues that Charles Dawson had to be the sole perpetrator of the Piltdown Hoax, since Dawson had a long history of creating archaeological frauds.
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Science Hoaxes
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 14, 2003
Tim Radford has a piece in today's Guardian on his Top 10 favorite Science Hoaxes of All Time. The Piltdown Man comes in at number one. Strangely, he seemed to omit a number of very famous cases, such as the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, the Cardiff Giant, the Paul Kammerer 'Case of the Midwife Toad', William Summerlin and his painted mice, Shinichi Fujimura's Stone Age discoveries, and the recent Piltdown Chicken (of National Geographic fame). But then, it is his list, and I guess everyone would pick something different.
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Were there 2 Piltdown Hoaxers?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 14, 2003
Here's even more stuff about the Piltdown Man (there's a lot of stuff about this because of the anniversary of the exposure of the fraud). The Independent reports that two academics are going to give a lecture in which they'll argue that two independent hoaxers were responsible for the piltdown frauds. But as far as I know, this theory has actually been floating around for a while.
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Piltdown Man on TV
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 13, 2003
Andrew Nixon sends word of a tv program that British hoax enthusiasts might want to watch. It's BBC2's special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the exposure of the Piltdown Man. It'll be titled "Britain's Greatest Hoax," airing Friday 21st November at 9pm.
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Happy 50th Birthday, Piltdown Man!
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 04, 2003
The Piltdown Man skull is being taken out of storage this month and put on display at Britain's Natural History Museum, as part of the Pfizer Annual Science Forum. They're putting it on display in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the fraud (I guess it's better to celebrate when they discovered the fraud, rather than when the fraud was first perpetrated). The Washington Post has a good, informative article about the history of Piltdown Man.
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First Genetics
Posted by The Curator on Sat Sep 20, 2003
First Genetics: The website of the first laboratory to have successfully genetically engineered an ape to be able to communicate with humans via typing on a keyboard
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The Hoaxing of Margaret Mead
Posted by The Curator on Sun Sep 14, 2003
Thanks to Derek Freeman's work, a lot of people know that the anthropologist Margaret Mead was hoaxed into believing that young Samoan girls were far more sexually active than they actually were. But Mead made influential claims about other cultures as well, about which she apparently was just as wrong, according to this article in Front Page Magazine. For instance, she claimed that the Mountain Arapesh, a tribe of New Guinea yam gardeners, had no knowledge of the concept of war. Not quite. Other researchers later found that about half the adult male Arapesh had killed people in battle.
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Is Peter Lynds a Hoax?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Aug 16, 2003
Recently a 27-year-old New Zealander named Peter Lynds has been getting a lot of attention. He's been hailed as the next Einstein because he's come up with an entirely new theory of time. And he's done this without having any formal qualifications as a physicist. But suggestions that Peter Lynds may be nothing more than a hoax have been cropping up. Some have even doubted the guy's existence. The Guardian investigated and found that Lynds was real enough, but that his work hasn't exactly wowed everyone in the Physics community. And that thing about him being the next Einstein... that may trace back to an offhand remark by Lynds himself. Update 8/17/03: A visitor has…
Tasaday Revisited
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 30, 2003
There's a very good review of the Tasaday controversy by James Hamilton-Paterson in the Guardian. Like many, Hamilton-Paterson concludes that the Tasaday were not quite the hoax that everyone has assumed for the past two decades.
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Lie Detectors
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jun 07, 2003
New, more accurate lie detectors being developed based on brain analysis.
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Stone Age Tasaday
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 01, 2003
Newsday has a review of a new book by Robin Hemley titled Invented Eden analyzing the controversy about the Tasaday tribe. Were they really a 'hoax' tribe, directed to act and dress like a primitive tribe? Or were they in some sense authentic? Hemley's answer is that both versions are partially correct.
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More on the Reverse Sokal Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 28, 2002
Regarding the Reverse Sokal Hoax described below: apparently the two brothers supposedly involved in it have denied that it was a hoax (see their statement pasted below). So the mystery continues. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN It was with the greatest astonishment that we have discovered that 2 members of the Ecole Polytechnique and 2 members of the University of Tours were the sources of an incredible rumor meant to validate the idea>that our papers were purposly written in serious journals as a hoax. Such an assertion is so outrageous that it discredits its authors. The published papers are the result of 6 years of intense and original work induced by our 2 PHD thesis in mathematics…
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Reverse Sokal Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 28, 2002
There is an e-mail going around detailing a so-called 'reverse Sokal hoax.' I'm not sure if the circumstances it describes are real or not. But here's the text of the e-mail verbatim: Sometime ago Alan Sokol et al wrote a completely meaningless article on quantum gravity which was accepted by a leading, refereed "deconstructionist journal". Physicists laughed because the hoax was at the deconstructionists' expense. But now there is is an inverse Sokol hoax in which, apparently, two reporters interviewed a lot of string theorists, wrote meaningless but "right sounding" papers and even got a Ph.D. Details below. What is particularly sad is that a key paper appeared in CQG: Class. Quantum Grav. 18 (7 November 2001) 4341-4372 Topological field…
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