The Best of Doubtful News 2013: This is not a hoax

We delivered to you the weird, wacky and woo-woo all year long. Thousands of stories that you won’t see given the skeptical eyeball hardly any place else.


We, your editors, are happy to bring you our picks for the most awesomely strange news stories from 2013. And, the top 10 stories YOU picked via our poll.

Personal Best of DN 2013: Editors Choices for strange news of the year

Sharon’s picks

Some of the biggest coverage of the year was the Melba Ketchum stuff on Bigfoot DNA but I can’t say it was my favorite news to cover. It was frustrating, ugly, and disappointing, a giant mess. So, I picked some stories I thought were more unique and interesting.

5. Pickled snake bites woman? I call shenanigans!
A snake preserved in wine lashes out at a woman? No way. This story is bogus. Not only was she drinking snake wine as a medical treatment but claims the snake was still alive and bite her? More than a little doubtful.

4. The Incidents at Loch Ness
Loch Ness news was rather dreadful in their 80th year. There is still no monster, still hoaxes and misidentifications, and people who think selling people a myth as “truth” is fine as long as it makes money. Nessie is a dead duck. Credibility is gone.

3. Here I come to save the day: Mouse attacks snake
This scenario had not been observed before. One brave mouse made an attempt to save it’s “friend” from attack by a lab snake. He was unsuccessful but gave the snake a whooping and was saved from being eaten himself. A mighty mouse.

2. Something gnawed on this BMW, but it’s not so mysterious
The default explanation that I hear when cars get mauled is (I’m not kidding), lizard man. With a new lizard man book that came out this year, I thought it was interesting this wasn’t pursued. But glad it wasn’t because this had an OBVIOUS explanation. Dogs. Really strong dogs.

1. Spiders in Aisle One
Spiders that were NOT supposed to be in the bananas or the grapes made for unexpected protein in the fruit. This was not good. There were several cases of Brazilian Wandering Spiders and of Black Widows, both types are highly venomous. Also a scorpion hitchhiker. Wash and WATCH all produce carefully.

default_skeptical goat

Torkel’s picks

5. That’s forked up!
An Australian man tries to sexually pleasure himself by sticking a fork up his urethra. He “succeeds” but it gets stuck resulting in what I imagine was a most awkward and embarrassing emergency room visit.

4. I shot Bigfoot?
It was just a matter of time before this happened. Two men out hunting the elusive Sasquatch were a bit trigger happy as one of them ended up shooting the other one in the back.

3. AVN loses
The Australian Vaccination Network lost in court and is forced to change its name to reflect what the group is REALLY about – anti-vaccination. At least now they have an opportunity to not be confused with the “Adult Video News” media network, aka ‘AVN’.

2. Snail of Olay
This seemed like a joke, letting snails crawl all over your face as a beauty treatment. In fact, it WAS once a joke, done by Penn & Teller as a prank for their Bullshit TV show a few years ago. Yet, there were people buying it, slime and all.

1. An ignobel study
A physics student uses magnets to disprove homosexuality. (I know that sentence makes no sense.) He is waiting for a Nobel prize for his “groundbreaking” “study” and “conclusive results”. It sounded like a story from The Onion but it’s not. We checked.


The Top Ten Reader’s Choices

10. TED under fire for pseudoscience AGAIN Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock battle the skeptical forces against pseudoscience.

9. If “Anthropologist Held Hostage By Elves” sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is It was eye-catching, it mentioned elves and it was a hoax. Oh, yeah… and she was naked. A top hit-getter this year.

8. Rose Marks psychic trial and conviction The Marks family trial and conviction was GREAT news but also prompted a troll to attack us and take down our site for a bogus DMCA claim. But still glad this turned out all good in the end.

7. Goblins in Zimbabwe blow up houses and steal women’s underwear Who knew goblins were such a bother in Zimbabwe! Cheeky little monkeys they are, and worse. If you followed us all year, you knew how nasty they are.

6. Sylvia Browne’s “annus horribilis” What a horrible year for so-called psychic Sylvia Browne. Her career hit the skids and then, she died. The end.

5. Kevin Trudeau’s legal woes What a slippery weasel he was – hiding his money but still managing to spend lavishly and have supporters rally around him? He went to jail. I suspect the unsinkable rubber duck will pop back up somewhere.

4. Fake bomb detector makers go to trial and to jail Make no mistake – this was a HUGE story of corruption, greed and ignorance. I hope military officials around the world learned a lesson on buying completely junk for top dollar. People died. Two men are in jail. That’s probably not good enough. The devices are still being used.

3. Burzynski gets busted for quackery The plans of Stan went in the can – the FDA finally caught up with the “Houston Cancer Quack”. Dr. B. also had a giant bummer of a year, I’m glad to say. I hope this is the end for the empty promises of the antineoplastons “miracle cure”.

2. Animal Planet gets criticism for fake Mermaids and Megalodon documentaries Animal Planet’s transformation into a fiction channel was complete this year as they were called out for fakery and silliness on many of their top shows. Their two main ratings getters – these faked documentaries about Mermaids and Megaladon prompted outrage from scientists and viewers who had even a limited working knowledge of science. Shame on AP for flushing their reputation down the sewer.

1. Melba Ketchum’s Bigfoot DNA flying circus. By a good margin (now I know that lots of crypto folks visit the site), I grudgingly award the Readers’ Choice pick to Melba. Her news this year was certainly deserving of the label “Doubtful” Melba’s whirlwind year:

She published the paper
The paper had joke references
It failed peer review
She said something about lemurs or lemurians
She gave her Bigfoot a new name
She teamed up with Erickson to show us really lame video footage
She got into a bitter battle
She remains blinded by belief
She is writing novels now. That actually makes sense… It’s a fantasy novel. Indeed.

A toast to Melba. It’s not quite a Nobel prize, I know. In all fairness, I probably spend the most time this year following this tale so I am glad to know the coverage was appreciated.

Skeptical lemur says, "STAAP, you are embarrassing yourselves."

Skeptical lemur says, “STAAP, that’s enough already.”

Have a SKEPTICAL 2014!


  10 comments for “The Best of Doubtful News 2013: This is not a hoax

  1. Angela
    January 1, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    The Melba coverage WAS appreciated, especially as a great source to use for counteracting the ones saying she had achieved some kind of ‘breakthrough’. I have become a strong fan of DN and only wish I could support in all ways. You can definitely count on me to share the site and looking forward to another year of ‘can you really believe this stuff?’

  2. Chris Howard
    January 1, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    I voted for the naked, elf abducted, anthropologist.

    I thought about Dr. Ketchum, but she wasn’t naked, and I’m a male, chauvanist-pig.


    Happy New Year, everyone!

  3. Angela
    January 1, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Chris wins the internets with that comment…and yes, that elf story was a good one. Almost chose that one, but the sound information about Ketchum’s…research was too good to pass up. (oh and I finally grew a brain and subscribed rather than waiting for FB updates. *nods head*)

  4. January 1, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    It’s a trip down repressed memory lane. Well done, guys!

  5. January 1, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    You people know that you could vote for up to 3 options in our poll, right?

  6. spookyparadigm
    January 1, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    The Ketchum one was obvious because DN became a go-to source for information on it. Whether it was the #1 important of those stories, it was the #1 important DN offering of the year.

  7. Chris Howard
    January 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Wait. What? I could have voted three more times?!?


  8. F-89
    January 1, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    Nice #1-that is one of the things hat got me to this sight-the ever more improbable claims about BF.
    (am I the only person that heard what the lemur “said” in King Julians voice?. Which is wrong, because Julian is full blown Woo believer!)

  9. Kitty Lapin Agile
    January 1, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    so please let us know when Ketchum completes her first novel. Dare I hope it has a Bigfoot theme?

  10. January 1, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Oh indeed, all about habituation. (But I won’t be reading it unless someone pays me to.)

Comments are closed.