idoubtit

Editor and owner of Doubtful News. Writer, specializing in science and society, science policy and education.

Jellyfish “sprite” sparks paranoia from “earth changes” websites

Photo of sprite captured by Frankie Lucida

A sprite (lightning) captured on camera from the Caribbean on September 18, 2016 has triggered posts on mystery-mongering fringe “news” sites that cater to end-of-the-world paranoia. Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur above thunderstorm clouds typically as flashes but they look far weirder than bolt lightning. They were documented clearly only in 1989 but…

The DN Deets for 19 September 2016

deets1

Back in the saddle, my friends. Here is the first installment of DN Deets*, an update on the activity associated with Doubtful News, your skeptic-at-large Editor, Sharon Hill (@idoubtit), and interesting things you may want to check out. I appeared on this week’s The Skeptic Zone – the Australian podcast for Science and Reason –…

Hope dashed for those who believed in demon fairies

alien-fairy-real

A creature promoted as being a “demon fairy” or “winged nightmare” by those who thought it matched a description in Revelation, has been revealed as a hoax. Synchronicity. Or something. Coincidences can seem very strange some times. Earlier today, I received an inquiry from Dr. Michael Heiser asking if I knew of anyone who had…

Hunting mountain monsters requires hat, beard, torch, TV ratings

How to hunt monsters - with torches. Are pitchforks next?

Destination America renews Mountain Monsters for season five. Why, when they have never found anything? Well see for yourself, it’s quite obviou$. The fourth season finale of MOUNTAIN MONSTERS on April 16, 2016 ranks as Destination America’s #1 telecast ever among HH, P2+, and M25-54 in L+3 delivery. HH is a rating/share based on the…

TIGHAR: The Ever-Optimistic

Amelia Earhart

My Washington Post newsfeed contained a familiar name with the same old story, rehashed once again in 2016 just like it was in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012, and probably before that but I wasn’t keeping track on this blog. The wonderful thing about TIGHAR is TIGHAR thinks it’s a wonderful thing. It’s actually amazing…

Latest purported photo of “Nessie” appears to be seals

img_7585

The Sun (UK) tabloid is well known for paying for exclusive photographs to publish with sensational stories about celebrities, ghosts and monsters. The latest is a new photo of Loch Ness which, if really taken in the Loch, shows three playful seals near shore. Normally, we don’t link to tabloids like the Sun but this pic…

I left my heart in Ohio…

ohio-heart

What a bizarre story! A heart, suspected to be human, unexpectedly appeared in an Ohio field, next to a parking lot. A plastic bag, containing the organ, was discovered by paramedics who initially threw it away, but, soon after, retrieved it for testing. Here is a quote from the Norwalk Reflector: About Aug. 25, a…

MUFON to rebrand

mufon-logo

I found this story… interesting funny, well, not sure. What do you think? MUFON – motivated by increasing interest in UFOs, company orders rebrand The Mutual UFO Network, the largest UFO investigation squad in the US and also the largest amateur anomalous research and investigation group possibly in the world with thousands of volunteers, is looking…

Russian river runs red repeatedly

image

Several large web outlets have shared the astounding pictures of the Daldykan river in the Russian Arctic city of Norilsk that has turned blood red. And it’s not the first time. Locals have posted the pictures on Instagram that has caused the international concern prompting an investigation by Russian officials. We wonder if it did…

Humber monster surfaces in the media to attract tourists

sigmund-sea-monster

This week’s media monster is the Humber monster, a Nessie-type creature (aren’t they all) that is being featured in the usual array of tabloids and on clickbait mystery sites. I’m not sure why it’s shown up now (silly summer season?) but I’d bet it’s deliberate. There is no new or good evidence that there ever…

Philly fish fall: Catfish from above slightly injures woman

eagle-catching-fish-top-10-facts-about-eagles

Lisa Lobree told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she was walking near the art museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the morning of September 5th when she heard a rustling in the trees above and 16 inch long catfish fell on her head cutting her face. The headline was “Woman says catfish fell from sky, striking her…

Clowning around in Carolina (Update)

scary_clown

By now it’s national news that creepy clowns are being reported in South Carolina. The latest clown flap started in late August when Greenville County, S.C. police said they received numerous reports of a clown trying to lure kids into the woods near Fleetwood Manor apartments. There was reason to be very skeptical of these…

Can’t discover a fossil ichthyosaur in Scotland without invoking a fictional monster?

Artistic rendering by Todd Marshall. Open-mouthed is a typical depiction that makes the subject look more menacing.

Another “spectacular” sea monster fossil discovery is ruined by some ridiculous journalists who can’t rid themselves of the stupid pop culture habit of comparing every ancient sea predator to a mythical creature. This is really getting old. The recent news is of a nearly intact ichthyosaur skeleton discovered on Scotland’s Isle of Skye and announced in…

No word on Wessie

snakeskinhandout.jpg

The mysterious giant snake of Westbrook Maine is still missing in action even after a snakeskin was found. Results from DNA testing of the shed skin showed that it was fresh and from a green anaconda, a species illegal to keep in Maine. The original sighting was obviously exaggerated. And the shed skin was not…

Big snake loose in Maine or is Wessie a hoax?

img_0044-2

Cross posted from DOUBTFUL. Back in June, locals of Westbrook, Maine said they saw a large snake slithering around. After no sign of the beast a week later, a Westbrook police officer witnessed it eating something near Riverbank Park on the Presumpscot River. A second officer called in also saw it. From their Facebook page: On…

Scottish poltergeist story is highly questionable, even if the police say they saw something

JS71610415

Cross posted from Doubtful by Sharon Hill A story about a family in Rutherglen, Scotland, who called in police to report paranormal phenomena, rode the media wave yesterday into today. The original source was the local Rutherglen Reformer paper that appears digitally on the Daily Record (UK) website. Here is the main story: Rutherglen family call in police…

Bigfoot skull fossil is a amateur mistake of wishful thinking (UPDATED)

It's a rock, not a bigfoot head. Sorry to disappoint but let's be serious here...

(Originally published on Jun 23, 2013) The assumptions in this story are astounding. Man believes he found fossilized Bigfoot head. “I found a fossilized Bigfoot skull.” A journalist can go his or her entire life waiting to hear those six magic words. And yet, on a recent weekday afternoon, that very thing happened. Todd May,…

DN was a great success!

DN is on indefinite hiatus. Thanks so much for your support! We still receive thousands of hits a day on archive stories, some of which are cited in publications and books, so we feel this project was a great success. The 7,745 existing posts are not only a record of several years of media weirdness that…

Baby tested last year for spontaneous human combustion has died

fire

A sad update to a very disturbing story that we reported on last year around this time and back in 2013. Two babies from the same family in India were treated for burns which the family alleged was the result of them spontaneously catching on fire multiple times. Media in India and around the world…

Concern bubbles up in Morocco

foam morocco

This video reportedly from Doukkala region of Morocco was worth putting up and discussing. You can imagine if you were the people experiencing this you MIGHT be a bit concerned and amazed. There may be a reason to be concerned but it’s not from chemicals from planes but from what you dump into the river. It’s…