The Deliberate Skeptical Hoax

Hoaxes orchestrated to be revealed as a deliberate ruse are enlightening. Yet, those that were taken in by the stunt are none too pleased afterwards. Skeptical hoaxes are an effective means of drawing attention to an issue but may not turn out as intended.

By Sharon Hill

 

Doubtful News ran the story about student in Edmonton who made a hoaxed video [1] of sky noises to show how easy it is to do such a thing. The video [2] soundtrack she used was, itself, a hoax. And, the original for that [3] was probably a hoax.

In our piece, we praised Claudine Gladue for showing that “her critical faculties were in the right place”. Not everyone saw things that way. Some believers in the sky noise phenomena were angry with the article and Claudine’s hoaxing. They accused her of riding the wave of the popularity of sky noises and getting her own web hits on You Tube (she currently has over 100,000 views).

Astoundingly, commenters on the Strange Sounds in the Sky blog were more forgiving of the original hoaxers who NEVER admitted to hoaxing and garnered WAY more hits.

Claudine said she was prompted by concern that her friends believed the sky noises were real and were afraid. She did not attempt to make her hoax widespread for media attention and was not responsible for uploading the video to YouTube. It appears that its popularity grew on its own. The original videos, deliberately published to YouTube and spawning dozens of copy cats, propagated the idea far and wide (accompanied by ads) and made millions of people wonder and worry if end-of-the-world cataclysms were upon us.

 

Deliberate skeptic hoaxes

Jellyfish crop circle from Oxfordshire

Manipulating sounds, videos and pictures are easy these days. You can create your own UFO, even one that flies independently and looks realistic. Crop circles were hoaxed to make people believe aliens were sending us messages. Faking demon possession, illnesses or fantastic physical conditions (stigmata, crying tears of stone) convince many of their genuineness. Alien abduction scenarios, psychic powers, Bigfoot footprint casts have all been fabricated and the experts were fooled.

There are several reasons for undertaking a deliberate hoax. Hoaxes for personal gain are infamous but skeptical hoaxes are not about that. These are hoaxes to make a point about being skeptical about questionable claims.

Some people attempt to reproduce an effect, such as a paranormal event or a UFO, just to see if they can pass it off as real.

This is akin to hypothesis testing.

Hypothesis: X can be reproduced without unreasonable effort and will elicit a comparable effect from an observer. No appeals to paranormal or unknown variables are necessary in the explanation of X.

How else can you test the viability of X being engineered without attempting to engineer X yourself and observe the response?

A second goal of skeptical hoaxing is to make the public aware of a problem. Typically, the skeptical hoaxers will aim to show that the claim of a paranormal concept is flawed; it is not necessary to reach for a supernatural explanation when application of human ingenuity will suffice.

James Randi orchestrated many hoaxes in order to demonstrate how easy it is fool people, especially people who think they can’t be fooled.

With the “Carlos hoax”, Randi recruited a performance artist who played the part of a channeler communicating with a 2,000 year old spirit. The act was to show how uncritical the media were about such claims. Carlos continued the act that enthralled audiences. The press never questioned* the authenticity or verified his claims. This exploit demonstrated how easy it was to manufacture a story whole cloth, dupe the public, and manipulate the gullible media, who just ate it all up.

In 1979, funding to study psychic phenomena was awarded to scientists who decided to test young people who claimed to be able to bend metal spoons with mind power. Mr. Randi knew the trick of spoon bending and recruited two kids to infiltrate the experiments. Prior to the experiments, Randi advised the scientists that they should consider trickery at play in the study subjects and offered to help them spot it. He was refused. As part of the rules Randi and cohorts agreed upon for Project Alpha, they were to tell the truth if asked if they were faking. Regardless of the warnings, the kids were never asked. The scientists believed the two hoaxers were genuine.

Bigfoot suit from Penn & Teller’s hoax

Las Vegas magicians and entertainers Penn and Teller arranged hoaxes to be filmed for their TV show “Bullshit!”, continuing Randi’s tradition of showing people how easily they can be flim-flammed. In 2005, they spoofed a Bigfoot sighting caught on camera. Known as the Sonoma Video, the footage fooled the leading Bigfoot “research” organization who declared it authentic. Even after it was revealed to be a prank, the leader of the Bigfoot group accused them of lying to market their show. He stood by his statement that it was real [4]. Many deliberate hoaxes (some revealed, some remain unrevealed or suspected) exist in the realm of Bigfoot, which is associated in the public eye with the act of hoaxing.

Many other hoaxes can be found on the Museum of Hoaxes website including the famous Sokal hoax where Alan Sokal sent in a paper full of gobbledegook words to a certain humanities journal to see if it would be accepted. It was. He succeeded in demonstrating the decline in standards of humanities journals and embarrassing some into reaction. [Paragraph edited: 31-Jan-2012 see comment below]

 

Drawbacks of hoaxing

It’s difficult for a minority opinion to be heard. Hoaxing and revealing can generate media attention for the unpopular opinion. While it doesn’t feel good to make someone look like a fool to their colleagues and the public, it can be useful to use such theatrical tactics to get your message across when other less dramatic methods are ignored.

Nevertheless, hoaxing to prove a point can have serious drawbacks including loss of credibility, creation of a public hazard and the threat that things can go seriously awry.

Life Magazine photo of a farmer defending his land against the Martians (War of the Worlds hoax)

Whereas a fake UFO can potentially violate airspace laws and a crop circle causes loss of revenue for a farmer, one can’t predict if a hoaxee will react violently to the revelation that he has been duped. Attempts to exact revenge or other unanticipated consequences can result.

The critical thinking community adheres to scientific standards for evidence, and is careful about providing all facts to be weighed. Deliberate hoaxing will involve some degree of withholding or misrepresenting critical information.

Ben Radford, skeptical paranormal investigator and co-author of two books about hoaxes [5] says he has never attempted a hoax because it might tarnish his credibility as an investigator. “If I’m on an investigation, I don’t want anyone accusing me of faking anything in order to debunk it. There’s a fine line, however, when you’re duplicating an effect (for example asking a “sciencey” ghost hunter to evaluate a ghost photo that you purposely made to see if they can spot a fake).”

Radford also remarks, “I think that hoaxing to make a point might be useful in some cases, but people don’t like to be made fools of.”

Author and skeptical investigator Karen Stollznow has written about and been involved in skeptical hoaxes before. In her piece, Hoaxes: For Better or Worse, Karen gives several examples of deliberate hoaxes – including the Project Alpha, Carlos and Sokal hoaxes – describing them as “social experiments” which “reveal human behavior under natural conditions.” She also reminds us that these orchestrated hoaxes were not intended for personal gain but ultimately for the public good, to prompt critical thinking.

Karen took part in an elaborate orchestrated hoax with Bryan and Baxter of Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society [6].

The group concocted a story about seemingly paranormal events taking place in a home and invited a pro-paranormal investigator to evaluate the situation. As with Project Alpha, the group agreed to admit to all if confronted by the hoaxee. In addition, they left many clues as to their identity and purpose, which were never discovered. In their final analysis the group was emphatic that no one should enter such an elaborate hoax lightly – in fact, they suggested you don’t do it at all – because of the potential dangers in exposing someone and having the situation turn bad.

When the Rocky Mountain Paranormal group presented their story at a skeptical meeting [7], Karen says it was generally well received but there were concerns about the ethical breaches involved or the perception that they were “mean” to the hoaxee. She stressed that the underlying purpose of what they did was intended to expose the problems that this individual was causing by offering paranormal conclusions. Their group was highly experienced with the subject matter. Therefore, even though it may have seemed mean, a hoax was an effective way to observe the person in action and to gather evidence that the paranormal hoaxee was actually the unethical one – causing great harm by convincing clients of serious paranormal activity in their homes.

Still, there are those, including many advocates of critical thinking, who feel hoaxing of ANY sort is not acceptable, that it is irresponsible and against the ideals of truth-seeking or presenting honest criticism. Demonstrating that one can be fooled is a tricky area. On the one end, magicians fool us deliberately. Yet, that kind of buy-in is expected. We fully understand they are tricking us and we gladly participate. With the deliberate skeptical hoax, there is a time lag which allows observers to develop a greater connection to the events, to accept it as real, even publicly endorse it as genuine.

 

The sad truth about hoaxes

Credit: Matt Crowley

With the potential pitfalls that can occur as part of a deliberate hoax to expose shoddy thinking, people will still attempt it. It can make for a surprising and mesmerizing story that gains media attention to the issue that needs exposure. Lecturing, letter writing campaigns or offering your opinion to everyone around you is not going to garner the same attention as a dramatic tale of deception and reveal. So, as in all of life, a variety of different methods must be used to reach the varied audience.

A curious thing about hoaxes is they don’t often seem to impact the hoaxee in the intended way. In order to save face, the target of the hoax will make excuses and will insist that while THIS instance was a spoof, the phenomenon, in general, does exists [8]. A display is particularly powerful if it reinforces part of one’s worldview (as with a perceived supernatural religious event, a UFO sighting, or that spirits of the dead can communicate). The will to believe is difficult to overcome. The greatest value gained in a publicly-exposed hoax is that the onlookers, the nonparticipants, are jolted into seeing so-called experts bamboozled. In the examples given, the field of parapsychology and the belief in channeling were revealed as having weak or no objective standards so one cannot readily distinguish real from fraud. Therefore, it is now potentially ALL a fraud.

Is hoaxing intellectual dishonesty? Temporarily. Dishonesty is required to some degree (on a spectrum from silence to elaborate lying) to perform a hoax. In the cases described, acting and deception was short-lived and done without the intent to cause harm or for personal gain. Skeptical hoaxers have repeatedly remarked how sad or disappointed they were that the hoaxee did not discover the ruse! Had the hoaxers been caught, it would have been some vindication that the hoaxed party was not nearly as naïve and credulous as was assumed. Ultimately, the skeptical hoax culminates in the act of exposing the game. That is a key to concluding that these skeptic hoaxes are appreciably different than other kinds of hoaxes.

The issues surrounding hoaxing are multiple and complicated. Truly unethical hoaxes stem from those malicious or greedy conspirators who attempt to gain from their stunt and never reveal their duplicity. In that category are those original sky noise hoaxers whose thoughtless and irresponsible constructions caused widespread fear that an epic catastrophe is about to befall us. It is one thing to personally believe that 2012 will be the year of the apocalypse but quite another to deliberately encourage that belief by manufacturing false events. Those acts are reprehensible.

Skeptical hoaxers, such as Claudine, Mr. Randi, Penn & Teller, and the Rocky Mountain Paranormal crew managed to deliver a very useful message – whether you liked their method or not: we can all be fooled. We ought to heed that warning with some humility and learn a lesson from it.

———–

1. Edmonton video

2. Conklin video

3. Kiev video

4. The leader of this group (Bigfoot Field Research Organization), Matt Moneymaker currently heads a team on a popular TV show called Finding Bigfoot. So, the embarrassing event was quickly wiped from the web pages and from people’s memories. Bigfoot, even though popular as a hoax, is still popular in general.

5. Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking. By Robert Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford. Prometheus Books: 2003, 229 pages. And, The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes. Co-author with Robert Bartholomew. 2011, McFarland and Co. Jefferson, North Carolina.

6. You can listen to an interview with all involved available on the Token Skeptic podcast #70 – On Hoaxing The Hoaxers

7. The Amazing Meeting in 2011

8. An example of cognitive dissonance.

Addendum 5-Feb-2012: Not everyone agrees the press was completely credulous or that this was a resounding success. As typical, the truth may be far more complicated than that.

NOTICE: This article is copyrighted. You may not reproduce it on another site, except in summary or in part with attribution, without permission from Sharon Hill (see “Contact Us” page)

 

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  36 comments for “The Deliberate Skeptical Hoax

  1. January 30, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    Here’s my hoax that I did a couple years back. Got me mentioned by PZ Myers, and a personal phone call from Tom Biscardi (have his akward e-mail to prove it).

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aohxyqKKHEo&w=420&h=315

    • January 30, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      you’ll also notice that, unlike some other hoax vids, I have not disabled the comments or ratings… yeah, the people fuckin’ hate it! :)

    • idoubtit
      January 30, 2012 at 9:04 PM

      You are the official Skeptical Pwner!

      • WhoDatMan
        February 11, 2012 at 4:52 AM

        The article says that the video AND the soundtrack are hoaxes. Isn’t that really just one hoax? Saying it’s two is like measuring the underside of your penis instead of the top.

  2. Mark
    January 30, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Great read!

    I do tend to agree with your statement that those who are the targets of a hoax are the least likely to benefit from the intended message. Some people have beliefs that are unshakable by counter evidence.

    It’s not clear to me how to assess the effectiveness of hoaxing versus a more measured explanation of the illusion of a phenomenon. But perhaps this could be studied in some way to determine a best practice in reaching people who are those typical hoaxees.

  3. January 30, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Thanks for this useful introductory discussion of some of the ethical issues surrounding deliberate skeptical hoaxes. I’m not a hardliner against these—skeptical undercover work and hoaxing clearly can serve the public interest, though always at some cost and with some risks—but I strongly agree that exercises of this nature should not be undertaken lightly.

    • idoubtit
      January 30, 2012 at 9:58 PM

      I agree that the serious pwnage should be left to the Randi’s and P&Ts of the world due to the liability and fallout. But some up and comers are doing a fine job. It’s a dirty business… but someone WILL do it.

  4. Massachusetts
    January 30, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    I recall that on cryptomundo.com people have written about the Penn & Teller Bigfoot hoax. They claim that, though Matt Moneymaker was apparently fooled, many in the cryptozoological community were not, and the prevailing opinion was that the PT video was a hoax. They point out that Moneymaker is a controversial figure, and his current TV show doesn’t properly represent the entire Bigfooting community.

    I need to do more research into what the buzz was when the video first came out to verify or disprove these claims. However, I do find that there is a strong tendency to accept poor evidence among Bigfoot aficionados. So I don’t know if this is rewriting history after the fact or an accurate portrayal of the state of opinion when this hoax was perpetrated years ago. If accurate, it would suggest that skeptics are cherry picking data that’s favorable to their cause and ignoring other data that isn’t.

    • idoubtit
      January 30, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      There is ALWAYS controversy over Bigfoot evidence with extremes on both sides. It is clear that BFRO fell for it and regretted that. That was my point. But, no one SHOULD have fallen for that, it was deliberately terrible, which made the point even more!

      Many of these skeptical hoaxes are EASY to spot if the hoaxee just looks. They don’t. They are too enmeshed in their worldview. Therefore, the value, like I pointed out, is to the uninvolved spectating audience.

  5. Massachusetts
    January 30, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    According to your research, was Jeff Meldrum fooled by the fake bigfoot prints you mention in the article? One of his big claims is that he can distinguish fakes like the ones you show, because they don’t demonstrate the variability and flexibility of a living, moving foot. I think it would be possible, via several artificial casts, to fake a range of variability, though I think it would take a lot of anatomical knowledge, and some model making skill and a lot of effort.

    • idoubtit
      January 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      I was referring to Krantz that was hoaxed by prints although I think there are others. I will ask for someone to come in to comment on that.

  6. January 30, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Since we have no specimen of Sasquatch foot to examine, all inferences to foot morphology are derived from tracks, and allegedly from certain stills of the Patterson film. One track from the Patterson film trackway was photographed and is known as the “Laverty photo.” This track exhibits a mid-foot pressure ridge which Dr. Meldrum suggests is a result of a mid-tarsal break in the Sasquatch foot.

    A mid-track pressure ridge can also be produced by a fake foot as I demonstrate here:

    http://orgoneresearch.com/2009/10/19/bigfoots-mid-tarsal-break/

    Also, the fake track seen in this Doubtful essay is one I produced as a test of track morphology, and was not in any way a hoax, either deliberate or unintentional. The essay on this track’s morphology is found here:

    http://orgoneresearch.com/2009/10/19/fake-feet-and-monolithic-margins-2/

    • idoubtit
      January 30, 2012 at 10:20 PM

      OK. Weird. I did not even know that was yours! I got it from Forgetomori. Shall I change the caption?

      • January 30, 2012 at 10:23 PM

        Yes please, that’s my photograph of my own test.

        • idoubtit
          January 30, 2012 at 10:26 PM

          Done! Nice work.

    • Massachusetts
      January 30, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Interesting. Thanks! Definitely food for thought.

  7. Massachusetts
    January 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    It does seem that the BFRO has been suffering in reputation for a long time now. Here is the post I read on cryptomundo which I referred to above, in which the BFRO, Moneymaker, and the Sonomo video were all treated with great…skepticism:

    http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/so-no-no-ma/

    They called it the “so no no ” video, because they were very skeptical of it and thought Moneymaker jumped the gun big time, and some background investigations apparently revealed troubling inconsistencies which they cited as evidence of a possible fraud or issue with the video. It does appear that this was published before Penn & Teller revealed the video to be a hoax.

    I do agree that the video was deliberately terrible. I also agree that bigfoot videos in general are usually pretty terrible, whether deliberate or otherwise. I agree that It is shocking that the BFRO would fall for it, though from reading this old post I’d say that wasn’t typical of many cryptozoologists. I do think, to be fair, which is important, that this is worthy of note.

    • idoubtit
      January 30, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Not so terrible that Matt couldn’t get his own show. Sorry, I have little sympathy. He seems to be doing just fine. And, even on the show, every stinking thing is a “SQUATCH!”

  8. Massachusetts
    January 30, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Yes I agree regarding Moneymaker and his current show: this area is squatchy, there’s a squatch, that’s a squatch, it could only be a squatch (even when they make there own test video with a person and reproduce the alleged Sasquatch video EXACTLY!) He hasn’t learned too much from the sonoma video, or the actual literal money’s too good to worry about facts and logic, I guess.

  9. Massachusetts
    January 31, 2012 at 6:25 AM

    The jelly fish crop circle is very cool, by the way. I hope they paid the farmer for the loss in revenue, if any.

  10. Massachusetts
    January 31, 2012 at 6:27 AM

    Regarding hoaxes in science, Piltdown is frequently used by creationists to point out the failings of evolution. However, I think it actually shows that science is very resilient and self-correcting: the truth comes out even if we take a temporary detour for any reason (in this case, fraud.)

  11. idoubtit
    January 31, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    Bob commented on the Sokal hoax paragraph here.
    http://skepticalhumanities.com/2012/01/31/a-brief-note-on-the-sokal-hoax/

    Quote:
    Well, not exactly. Sokal was a physicist, who was attempting to make a point about certain critics’ misuse of scientific terminology and a sort of absurd posturing that one often sees in the postmodern camps of literary theory.

    Point taken. Slight edit made. Thanks Bob.

    • January 31, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Thanks for the update, Sharon. All love! :)

      Bob

  12. Arinn Dembo
    January 31, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Deliberately faking data and sabotaging experiments are the cultivated habits of the modern Skeptical community which mark them most clearly as an Inquisition, rather than a movement with any legitimate relationship to science.

    Get this through your heads, you idiots: LYING and FAKING DATA are NOT. EVER. OK.

    Period. End of story. Done talking. It is just, plain, ALWAYS and FOREVER, the wrong thing to do.

    The fact that a dishonest and immoral act serves your ideological agenda does not make it acceptable and paint a halo on your actions. People like James Randi are absolutely disgusting and deplorable role models; the man is not only a lifelong confidence trickster who is presently guilty of being an accessory to identity theft, but he has graduated to a lucrative career as a revival tent preacher who is, for all practical purposes, an open and declared enemy to real science.

    Randi is on record for having sabotaged a number of efforts to prove (AND DISPROVE!) “supernatural” phenomena via experiment. The fact that he is actually lionized and applauded for having deliberately interfered with and destroyed real scientific experiments is an indelible stain on your entire movement. It proves beyond doubt that what really interests you is neither the truth NOR the scientific method. What you are, at the end of the day, is fanatic defenders of your ideology. People who will do anything, no matter how vile, to seize ideological ground.

    The fact that Randi and his ilk have taught you all that it is acceptable to fake data and sabotage real science and inquiry in your “noble” cause is ridiculous and dangerous hypocrisy. If you can’t stop doing this sort of thing, at least stop patting yourselves on the back so hard that your arms break. You couldn’t possibly look worse, in the eyes of any person with a passing acquaintance with the scientific method.

    • idoubtit
      February 1, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      Very poor comment etiquette, Arinn. Why would anyone take this seriously?

      (As is our policy, we allow one transgression of poor etiquette as an example, then you are moderated for comments. If they are constructive and not name calling, they are let through. If they are more of the same, they will not appear.)

  13. Massachusetts
    January 31, 2012 at 8:27 PM

    @Arinn Dembo: do you really think you will win people over to your argument by calling the “idiots”?

  14. January 31, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Honest witnesses to genuine anomalies are gold.

    Hoaxers are fool’s gold.

  15. January 31, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    I’m torn on this. I think hoaxing is just a bad idea, in general. It does taint the hoaxer as someone it is difficult to trust, when they are often trying to gain credibility specifically on issues of factuality and accuracy.

    At the same time, such tactics (either hoaxing or trickery) seem to have had some effect. I’d point to some of the cases mentioned above. I’d point more to Houdini’s crusade against the Spiritualists, where he didn’t hoax but he did do undercover work.

    And then, I think some more about it, and I wonder how important such efforts have been. Do they really have any effect in ending say psychic con artists? The entire point is to expose the methods of such people. But if we’ve learned anything, it is that “people” seem to have about a 15-second (or perhaps realistically a few years) memory for such things, before the exact same tricks and lies will work again. Maybe slightly modified, but when even the most discredited individual can lie low for a little bit and then get right back to what they were doing, getting into the mud pit with hoaxing really doesn’t seem worth it.

  16. January 31, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    I want to be just like Arinn. Only with friends.

  17. John Maxim
    January 31, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    Hoaxing for educational reasons is on par with those who hoax for the main reason; publicity. The purpose is website hits or television ratings.
    Just because an anomaly can be duplicated, doesn’t make it any less of an anomaly.
    I too, am a skeptic. But as the stage magician James Randi has made clear, if you can beat them with science, then join them in hoaxing.

    • John Maxim
      January 31, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      I beg your pardon. It should’ve read, “..if you can’t beat them…”

  18. Bruce Duensing
    February 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    What is needed for analysis is context and the context is where this behavior is found in a larger perspective. Hoaxes by definition are rife throughout society which is the intentional fabrication of falsehoods. Then there are hoaxes that are unconscious by simply taking appearances at their face value. Simply put,hoaxes are now considered an creative form,taking it’s cue from the hoaxes long established in art collection circles. Whether it is photoshop,computer internet memes, etc. Then we are inundated by computer generated effects in commercials, movies, etc that are not meant to deceive but yet blur certain distinctions as to what is acceptable versus what is not. There is no moral valuation attached to this behavior, but it is if the cat has been let out of the bag.
    Another context is opinion overriding analysis in popular culture, the lack of context in news coverage by little or no fact checking even background information.
    Another is intellectual laziness, a lack of self skepticism, being unable to deal with uncertainty as to say “I don’t know.’ This was a great and necessary post, just don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  19. julianpenrod
    February 1, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    They claim to be trying to “make a point” with the deliberate skeptical hoaxes, but it has to be asked, when did any of those scams ever do any good? They cause a stir, then they are admitted and the mood of many for any anomalous topics is soured for awhile. Indeed, that happens so much, that that seems to be the purpose of the skeptical hoaxes. Not to make people ask questions more, but simply to satisfy the malignant whims of angry, resentful impotents. They want to mock those who make genuine paranormal claims. Theywant to trick paranormal researchers into saying they seem authentic, then declare them fake, to ruin confidence in all paranormal research. Indeed, there are likely no small number of cases where they actually took credit for something that was paranormal, justto take the sheen off it, and prevent further research. There is not reason to think there is anything other than the foul and depraved about the deliberate skeptical hoaxers.

  20. February 1, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    As requested, a link to some thoughts on the ‘Carlos Hoax’, pointing out some apparent misconceptions about its effectiveness:

    http://dailygrail.com/Skepticism/2012/2/The-Carlos-HoaxHoax

    Kind regards,
    Greg

  21. John Maxim
    February 1, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    I would point to the work of Dr. Greg Little. He has investigated all sorts of anomalies. One of his most pointed pieces of research was when he tracked down the story of the “missing” steamship, Iron Mountain.
    The story had been repeated in numerous anthology books on the unexplained. A steamship simply vanishes. After diligent research, Dr. Little discovered that this ship was working on the Mississippi long after it was supposed to have vanished. Tedious, yeoman research will ultimately solve many of these mysteries. No hoax was needed. Of course, this story is not nearly as interesting as the truth.

  22. Massachusetts
    February 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    When I hear that a ship vanishes, my first reaction is that it probably sank. But this is an even more mundane answer: it didn’t even sink at all! Talk about fact checking issues!

Comments are closed.