idoubtit

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

Ghost girl hype in New York town

In Cambridge, New York, a trail cam photo caused a buzz around town. It wasn’t a mystery animal, it was a young girl marching defiantly. The camera was set up by new landowners who wished to use the area for hunting but, wisely, wanted to know if there were regular visitors across the tract. So,…

15 Credibility Street #15: Bombs

Welcome to a satisfyingly synchronous episode of our podcast. One of us had cake. Then we got into the news of the week. Professor Sasquatch of Centralia Community College just gets weirder. The PR hazards of forcibly re-accommodating a passenger were not good but the rumor chaos that followed was bad for the poor passenger involved. Scorpions on…

Continuing miseducation on Bigfoot

Community and small local colleges typically provide non-credit continuing education courses for the locals at low cost. As I’ve written about previously, it’s often art or history classes, computer training, those sorts of things. But also frequently offered are “classes” on paranormal nonsense like “How to develop your psychic powers,” “Ghost Hunting 101,” and “Tarot Reading”.…

15 Credibility Street #14: An imperfect world

The theme running through the topics and discussion in this episode is that nothing in the world is perfect and there are lots of gray areas, and flaws, and “just not good enough” that we spend significant time and effort trying to figure out and fix. Here are the topics we discuss in this edition of…

Small, naked, human-like-creature-running-away video goes viral

A viral video claims to show evidence of a legendary and ancient tribe of people on the Indonesian island of Aceh, the suku mante (or Orang Mante). The video has been viewed nearly 7 million times. It’s really awful, as these things almost always are. But people really believe this stuff. Here it is, in…

“The Watcher” not found but lawsuit number two has been filed

In June 2015, we brought you the story of the Broadduses, a family in New Jersey who were plagued by a creepy-letter writer who was called The Watcher. Just three days after the family with small children closed on a million-dollar-plus house in a lovely town of Westfield, NJ, their move-in plans were curtailed when…

15 Credibility St #13: Some particular place to go

WooHoo, lucky number 13! Topics for this episode include: T’s travelogue of Liverpool for a Beatles tour. Just how small were the houses they grew up in and how did Ringo fit a drum kit into his room? Would you want to live in a famous house? No. Howard presents the “Chocolate Minute” on the…

Gone fishing and caught a ghost in a selfie? Yep, fishy.

The latest viral “ghost” photo is, again, making the rounds and roping in many who think you can prove an extraordinary claim with just a photo. You can’t. For expert paranormal photo debunking, we go to Kenny Biddle who reveals the more plausible explanations for this photo and why it looks very fishy. [Comments in brackets…

15 Credibility St #11: It’s One Louder

This edition of the podcast features an overview of the doubtful news stories you don’t want to miss and a discussion between Sharon and Kenneth Biddle on the requests for assistance they receive at the Anomalies Research Society. Check out the featured stories from DN: New Mexico Senator has put his big foot down on funding…

Charlestown beach carcass in Cornwall is a whale

A UK paper reports that a Mysterious sea creature washes up on Charlestown beach near St Austell and no one knows what it is  Chris Crane was walking on the beach in Charlestown on Monday when he came across the washed-up animal. He said he believed the creature had already been there for a few days…

Philippine globster is mass of collagen, remains from marine animal

Lots of hits for “globster” today relating to the new remains found at Dinagat Islands in the Philippines. As is typical with mystery carcass remains, people wildly speculate what it might be. It has, however, a good explanation. The remains of a large animal believed to be a sea cow washed up on the shore in…

15 Credibility St #10: Minding the Gap

In this episode, we talk about the loss of the founder of GapMinder, the efforts of CNN to ignore that they ought to be doing journalism, and what happens when fantasy erodes the grip on reality for some pre-teen girls. We really need to mind the gap. In June of 2014, we brought you the story…

Suspiciously frozen fishes and Trumpagator

Two weird “what’s going on here?” animal stories are making the rounds this week. Several readers have sent me the bass-eating pikecicle – what appears to be a pike eating a bass that was flash frozen. Real or fake? It’s hard to say – there are some reasons to say either yes or no to…

Group uses ploy: “I don’t know, therefore, Thylacine”

Another terrible example of evidence of the existence of the Tasmanian Tiger is in the news. The The Thylacine Awareness Group sets up cameras where people report strange animals. The results they get are less than convincing but they promote these to the media as possible thylacines because they so very much wish it was true. The…

Maine ghost group claims to have Eva Gray ghost pic (UPDATED: Eva real, ghost is not)

Update: The ghost group appears to have additional information that they have not yet released that indicates that this “image” is not paranormal, and we have confirmation on some details of Eva Gray’s death. See below. Originally published 17-Jan-2017 An amateur research and investigation group (ARIG) in Maine is getting local attention for their claim…

15 Credibility St #8: We only see what we wish to see

This episode contains example after example of motivated reasoning. See if you can count them all! Doubtful News stories discussed: Holiday week news – Giant snake, black bobcat, shark attack, O Tannerite!, Mother Nature Clickbait Chilean UFO Alien Claw Demon Tree Or was it just a tree with a bad trim? The Washington Post on Nibiru:…

Tabloid pseudoscience alert: Alien claw

The usual tabloid suspects are hyping a non-story about the finding of an “alien claw” in Peru. ALIEN investigators claim this giant hand is REAL and could have come from a dead extra terrestrial being. Source: Researcher Brien Foerster claims ‘giant hand from Peru cave’ could be of alien origin | Daily Express and Institute…

Chilean object: A U.F.O. does not mean it’s a ‘UFO’ (Update: Likely explanation obtained)

UPDATE (8-Jan-2016): The most likely explanation for this “UFO” is that it was a plane. This detailed analysis of focal length and speed of object concludes “medium-haul aircraft”. The heat signature and shape of the object does suggest conventional dual-engine aircraft. A post on Metabunk has additional details and visuals to show why this case is almost certainly…

Demon tree very silly, and the clickbait is so sweet

There is this crazy viral photo going around of what some people gullibly think is a demon strolling down the street in Arizona. I doubt it. We have no verification, no other photos, no daytime photos of the same location, not even DETAILS of the location (which seems to be somewhere around Phoenix, AZ). AND……

Wessie most certainly dead: The top monster-related stories of 2016

The Portland Herald revisits the Wessie story now that we are deep into the Maine winter. They fail to mention that it could have been a hoax. The evidence – eyewitness testimony and a snakeskin of dubious origin – is highly questionable. “We have had no further sightings,” said Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts. Interested residents…

15 Credibility Street #7 – Big old problem: they might be giants

In this episode, I talk with Jason Colavito about giants, angels and monsters. Or, giant monster angels, who may be anti-diluvians or Atlantians, and who watch, though I’m not sure what and why the hell they are watching. They may be Bigfoot ancestors, or space aliens, or demons, or sons of God, or just “men…

Boom reported on New Years Eve on NY-PA border

Several search hits on “explosion” “New York” and “Pennsylvania” encouraged me to check to see if any new mystery booms were reported. And, sure enough, as frequently happens on the last day of the year or New Year’s Eve, we have a big boom reported: People from Owego to Broome County reported feeling an explosion…

Mother Nature Network twists the science to be scary

Here is another site you might wish to mark off your list of clicks: Mother Nature Network (MNN). This is a site that takes science stories and rewrites them, [possibly] getting them wrong in the process. Yesterday, they posted this story: Massive river of molten iron found flowing between Russia and Canada A river as…