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Fake Family Software
Status: Hoax-facilitating software
Genealogists are in an uproar about new software that allows people to create fake (but real looking) online family trees. The program is called Fake Family. (Because of the controversy, the website of the software maker is now given over to an Open Letter to Genealogists.)

Genealogists argue that the fake information created by this program could easily find its way into real family history databases. They also charge that the only purpose of the software is to create webpages that will lure people with false information, and then profit from advertising links.

The maker of the software, Don Harrold, defends his creation by insisting it's very unlikely that a serious researcher would be taken in by the information Fake Family produces. For instance, the software will often list people as being born in cities before those cities existed. He also makes a curious point:

The people most upset about Fake Family seem to be folks who have a RELIGIOUS reason for being upset. (However, if I was going to be baptizing people who had passed on, I would do more research than just "grabbing names" from a website.)

Does this mean there are people who do genealogical research in order to retroactively baptize their ancestors? Can a dead person be baptized? I had never heard of such a thing.

Anyway, Harrold's basic argument is valid enough. The internet is so full of misinformation that anyone who uncritically uses historical information they find online is asking to be misled. But having said that, it sounds like the purpose of his program is to create spam (spam that clutters search engine results rather than email inboxes). And spam in any form should be condemned.
HistoryIdentity/Imposters
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 13, 2005 Comments (56)
The baptizing of the dead is a Mormon/LDS practice, I believe. Being neither Mormon nor religious, I couldn't comment on the details, but I think they refer to it by a less gruesome sounding phrase.

Incidentally, I seem to remember a story on Snopes that referenced this practice.
Posted by hippievet  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  12:04 AM
The story is at http://www.snopes.com/glurge/birdies.asp

Goodness, I've got a lot of time on my hands tonight!
Posted by hippievet  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  12:13 AM
I should have known that about Mormonism. I think I did know it once, but forgot it.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  01:03 AM
hippievet beat me to it. Yes, retroactive baptism is a Mormon thing. A fun little cult, aren't they?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:47 AM
My brother-in-law's parents are Mormons and they told my sister that if she dies before them, they'll get her baptised. She told then to f*#k off.
Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  02:53 AM
In my freshmen year, two students did an "independant project" wherein they outlined how the two of them were actually related by some strange coincidence involving WWII. One of them was asian and one of them was white. As far as I can tell, the teacher bought it, and the two students didn't really have to do any work.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  04:34 AM
Anyways, are they no longer doing fake family trees? I'd like to see one. I think it's stupid that they'd devote their entire webpage to defending a service which they've discontinued.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  04:35 AM
Nettie said:

"My brother-in-law's parents are Mormons and they told my sister that if she dies before them, they'll get her baptised. She told then to f*#k off."

Since they're Mormons, chances are they'll do it anyway, against her wishes. Perhaps your sister should have it put into her will that she does NOT want to be posthumously baptized, so that there can be no question about her intentions.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  04:55 AM
The LDS has caused an uproar in recent years because they have been baptizing victims of the Nazi holocaust in WWII.

http://archives.cnn.com/2002/US/West/12/10/baptizing.the.dead.ap/

From the article:

"Mormons believe proxy baptisms give those in the afterlife the option of joining the religion. It's primarily intended to offer salvation to the ancestors of Mormons, but many others are included."

I'm not sure I want to be a Mormon. Even after I die.
Posted by BugbearSloth  in  earth, 3rd planet, sol system  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  09:59 AM
1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 29: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?


It's in Corinthians. It was a biblical practice. And yeah, Mormons continue (revived?) the practice.
Posted by Laura Gjovaag  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  12:47 PM
I'm glad noone in my famliy is mormon. Just to be safe I'll put that I don't want to be baptized after I die.
Posted by Dany  in  Waco, Texas  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  12:53 PM
Come on let's go a little easy on trowing the word cult around. Some people that enjyo this sight might even be Mormon. (Yes, we do use the internet.)
Posted by Matt  in  Utah  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  03:50 PM
Matt said:

"Come on let's go a little easy on trowing the word cult around. Some people that enjyo this sight might even be Mormon. (Yes, we do use the internet.)"

Please explain to me why LDS is NOT a cult. No, the size of your church's membership doesn't exclude it from culthood.

Oh, by the way, do you wear your magic underwear when you're surfing the Internet?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  04:29 PM
Don't worry about being unwittingly turned into a Mormon, Nettie. I remember that the International Jewish Conspiracy had an ad on their website offering a de-baptising kit. I can't remember their web address, though; perhaps Winona could be of assistance?
Posted by Accipiter  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  04:32 PM
Matt and Cranky MG: great bumper sticker I recently saw speaks to your discussion:
RELIGIONS ARE CULTS WITH MORE MEMBERS
Posted by tidewater tootsie  in  deep south  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  05:54 PM
Having once been a Mormon, I know that:

You can tell everyone you know that you don't want to be baptised by proxy after you die,you can put it in your will, you can tatoo it across your forhead, you can have it sung by Celine Dion and played by ice cream trucks, you can hire a team of mimes to spell it out in bodies in the street at your funeral...you can do all of that and more and they'll still baptise you.

They DO call it "Baptisms for the Dead".
Posted by Gee...  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  05:59 PM
That bumper stickers funny. I guess it all just depends on your definitions of religion and cults. To me a cult is a society that use methods to force people in and keep them in. I don't see my chosen faith as being that.
Posted by Matt  in  Utah  on  Mon Nov 14, 2005  at  06:00 PM
Tidewater Tootsie said:

"Matt and Cranky MG: great bumper sticker I recently saw speaks to your discussion:
RELIGIONS ARE CULTS WITH MORE MEMBERS"

That's how I see it, for sure.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  03:22 AM
matt said:

"To me a cult is a society that use methods to force people in and keep them in. I don't see my chosen faith as being that."

No one EVER thinks of THEIR faith as a cult. Have you ever heard anyone say, "Hey, let me tell you about my cult?"

Question: Is LDS really your "chosen" faith or were you born into it?

Oh, and ARE you wearing your magic underwear?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  03:24 AM
No use for it in Alabama. Or..?
Posted by The Legend  in  Las Vegas, Nevada - U.S.A.  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  03:58 AM
The Mormons can be a pain. Many of my ancestors were miners in Staffordshire (England) and they didn't consider it worth marrying a girl until she was pregnant. Result wass that a high proportion were illegitimate. The Mormon side of the family, about 100 years ago started inventing fake marriages and changing surnames to sanitise the family history and it has taken years to get rid of their mess. If you ever need to use their family history site, I suggest that, when it says the record is from parish records, it is believable. If it is submited by a Mormon, forget it.
Posted by John  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  10:02 AM
Oh, and Mormons also posthumously baptist Native Americans. I know of some pretty pissed off indigenoue folks. The whole apres death baptism is the reason they keep meticulous geneology records. And I want some magic udies!
Posted by BethCA66  in  Philadelphia  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  04:20 PM
Hell, they can Baptise me if they want. It won't offend me anymore than if a witchdoctor danced a jig around my dead corpse before they bury me. I'll be dead and beyond caring.

In fact, that witchdoctor thing sounds cool. I wonder how I go about hiring one for my service. My religious family members would just freak. Yup, gonna hafta look into this. Now, how to convince my parents to comply?
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  04:25 PM
"The Mormons can be a pain"
-John

You're right, they ARE a pain; what with their magic undies. Plus I think Red Indians with their silly feather hats and druggie peace pipes are pretty dumb too. Don't get me started on Jews and their stupid prayer shalls and girley braids. Don't foreget Catholics and their gross "wafer is body of Christ" mumbo jumbo. They're all weird, if you ask me, we should put them all in camps...
Posted by In Agreement  in  worldwide  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  04:35 PM
Um...those "silly feather hats" are actually war bonnets and not part of a religous ceremony. Oh, and those "peace pipes" are not filled with wacky tobaccy. But that's not the point.

The issue isn't whether or not Catholics, Jews, Native Americans, etc. have odd religious beliefs. The issue is whether or not it's okay for someone to baptize you after you're dead without you converting to Mormonism of your own free will. Some people feel pretty strongly about it.

And as Charybdis in Hell said, we're not going to care much after we're gone. Well, unless you're chillin' in Christian heaven, someone baptizes you, and WHOOSH, you're transported to Mormon heaven. That might suck if all your buddies are in Christian heaven. But, if you're in hell, maybe Mormon heaven would be a nice change of scenery.
Posted by BethCA66  in  Philadelphia  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  05:12 PM
I think I'm with Charybdis on this one. I'm just not going to care by the time I'm dead. If anything it's rather funny.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Tue Nov 15, 2005  at  08:41 PM
bethca66 said:

"I want some magic udies [sic]!"

Somewhere on the Internets, there is a Mormon Store, although I doubt it's actually named that. It should have what you're looking for; technically, they're called a "garment," if I remember correctly.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  03:17 AM
In Agreement said:

"You're right, they ARE a pain; what with their magic undies. Plus I think Red Indians with their silly feather hats and druggie peace pipes are pretty dumb too. Don't get me started on Jews and their stupid prayer shalls and girley braids. Don't foreget Catholics and their gross "wafer is body of Christ" mumbo jumbo. They're all weird, if you ask me, we should put them all in camps..."

Well, except for the putting them in camps part, I agree. It's all superstitious nonsense. Hey, I was forced to EAT Jesus on many occasions when I was a child. For those who don't know Catholic doctrine, the Holy Roman Church considers the communion wafers to actually BE the body of Christ after a certain point in the Mass; it isn't supposed to be merely symbolic.

According to Catholic dogma, an actual no-shit MIRACLE occurs at each and every Catholic mass right in front of your eyes when the priest turns a piece of unleavened bread into the actual body of Christ. It's called "transubstantiation". That's a hell of a thing, huh?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  03:22 AM
argh, i hate it when someone tries to force their religous beliefs on you, and doing it posthumously just seems like bad taste (especially when connected to the holocaust where many (not all) of the victims were jewish and its seen as a great jewish tradgedy) but as someone once said "what do the dead care? they're dead"

someone also said "those who want to share their beliefs with you rarely want you to share your beliefs with them"
Posted by joeodd  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  03:31 AM
If a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wishes to baptize by proxy someone that has been dead for less than 90 years, that member must get permission from the closest living relative of the dead person. So all of you that are worried about being baptized after you die, as long as you make your wishes known to your family members, you won't have to worry about that for about 100 years.

For those of you that are concerned about being baptized by a Mormon: If the Mormon church and its doctrine are false, then what's the worry about being baptized after you're dead? It really won't make a difference. On the other hand if you get to the after-life and find out that the doctrine is true, wouldn't you regret telling all of your family to make sure that you're never baptized by proxy?
Posted by elscotty  on  Wed Nov 16, 2005  at  05:41 PM
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