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Preview: The Museum of Hoaxes

The Museum of Hoaxes

Examining dubious claims and mischief of all kinds.

Published: 2012-05-23T17:34:00+00:00


Artificially Dirty Eggs


In 1973, the Dutch egg industry noted a drop in sales. After studying the situation, its analysts decided that the problem was that grocery-store shoppers were put off by the antiseptic appearance of the factory-cleaned eggs on the shelves. To consumers, the sparkling clean eggs seemed to represent the "plastic and concrete style of modern living."

To remedy this, the Dutch Egg Board decided to stick mud, manure, and bits of feather onto the eggs (after they had been cleaned) in order to artificially give them that "straight from the farmyard look."

J.T. Mellema, head of the Egg Board, noted that a bit of carefully placed dirt would make the eggs "look real and give back that old farmhouse touch."

Source: New Scientist - Feb 1, 1973


The Ottawa Journal - Mar 3, 1973

The Muhammad Ali Underwater Training Hoax


Early in his career, Muhammad Ali convinced the media that he regularly trained underwater. The Sept 8, 1961 issue of Life magazine featured a photo essay about a young boxer, 19-year-old Cassius Clay, who had an unusual training technique. He trained underwater. Clay had recently won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics, and since going pro he had won his first eight matches. He was also making a name for himself outside the ring as a charismatic and outspoken character. In 1964 he would win the world heavyweight championship and change his name to Muhammad Ali, by which history remembers him better. But in 1961 Clay was busy training for his ninth match, against Alex Miteff who outweighed him by twenty pounds. However, Clay was confident that his underwater training would give him the edge in the ring. The text of the photo essay explained: "Not to be bragging or anything like that," says 19-year-old Cassius Marcellus Clay, "but they say I'm the fastest heavyweight in the ring today. That comes from punching under water." Taking a cue from the immortal Ty Cobb, who weighted his shoes in training so that he would feel feather-footed when the season started, Clay goes into a swimming pool and, as these underwater pictures show, does a stunt of submarine shadowboxing. "You try to box hard," he explains, "Then when you punch the same way out of water you got speed." Clay did proceed to beat Miteff, knocking him out in the sixth round. So evidently the underwater training worked. Except, no. Clay didn't train underwater. In reality, the photoshoot he did for Life was the one and only time he ever trained underwater. He had invented the story about underwater training as a stunt to get publicity. However, for years no one questioned the claim about training underwater. It was simply accepted as part of the lore of Muhammad Ali. Until finally, around 1997, the photographer who did the photoshoot, Flip Schulke, revealed that Ali had invented the story. Life — Sep 8, 1961 The Story of the PhotoshootIn 1961, Sports Illustrated had assigned Schulke to take pictures of Clay. So Schulke traveled to Overtown, Florida where Clay was training. When he first met Clay, Schulke tried to impress the young boxer by sharing examples of his work. For instance, Schulke revealed that he specialized in underwater photography and had recently had photos published in Life showing water-skiers from below the surface of the water. Seeing these photos, Clay immediately told Schulke that it so happened that he trained underwater in a swimming pool because, "An old trainer up in Louisville told me that if I practice in the pool, the water resistance acts just like a weight." Clay demonstrated by jumping into the pool at the hotel where he was staying (The Sir John Hotel) and started to throw punches in the water. Underwater training sounded plausible enough to Schulke, and he thought photos of it would make an interesting feature, so he pitched the idea to Sports Illustrated. But the editor there, as Schulke later said, "thought I was crazy for taking pictures of a boxer in a swimming pool." However, the editor also gave Schulke permission to pitch the idea to Life, saying, "Go ahead and ask Life if you want to. If they're dumb enough to, let them do it." So Schulke called Life, and they liked the idea. Schulke proceeded with the photoshoot. The pictures ran in Life. And they became among the most celebrated sports photos of all time. One of the pictures (below) from that shoot, showing Clay fully underwater with his fists raised, is one of the most famous pictures of Ali ever taken. But it didn't run in Life because the editors there thought it looked too posed. Schulke next met Clay three years later, after the boxer had won the world heavyweight championship. In his 2003 book Witness To Our Times Schulke described this meeting: We were looking through a scrapbook, and when he came across my underwater pictures he winked at me. I realized he had taken me. I learned later he and his trainer had come up wi[...]

Edgar Allan Poe’s Apocryphal April Fool Hoax


Did Edgar Allan Poe play an April Fool's day joke on the residents of Baltimore? Edgar Allan Poe enjoyed hoaxes. He authored six of them himself, and he also spent time trying to debunk the hoaxes of others (such as the hoax of Maelzel's Chess Player). But was Poe responsible for only six hoaxes? For over a century a story has circulated claiming that Poe, as a young man, perpetrated a seventh, lesser-known hoax. It's said to have been an April Fool's Day hoax that he pulled off while living in Baltimore in his early twenties. Several biographies of Poe describe this hoax, and the story of the incident has circulated in Baltimore for decades. If true, it would be of interest because it would have been Poe's first hoax, and it would foreshadow some of his later works. But did Poe really author this seventh hoax? Below I examine the details of the story, but the answer (for those who want to cut right to the chase) is that, no, there's not enough evidence to link this hoax to Poe. In fact, we can't even say whether the hoax happened at all. The Story of the HoaxThe story goes that in late March, around about 1831 (or perhaps 1829), Poe placed a notice in a local Baltimore paper (possibly William Gwynn's Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser) announcing that on the morning of April 1st a man would leap off the top of the recently built Phoenix Shot Tower and, by means of his newly invented flying machine, fly to the Lazaretto Point Lighthouse, a distance of two-and-a-half miles. At the time, the Shot Tower was the tallest structure in the United States, standing 234-feet high. It was used to manufacture gunshot by dropping molten lead from the top. The lead fell through perforated pans into water at the bottom, forming into perfect spheres as it fell. Naturally the idea of a man flying from the top of the tower generated enormous excitement, so a large crowd gathered to see the spectacle. However, no aeronaut ever appeared, causing the crowd to grow upset and unruly, until they realized what day it was and dispersed. Poe reportedly published a card of regret in that afternoon's paper, explaining that the aeronaut had been unable to keep his engagement because one of his wings had gotten wet. The Phoenix Shot Tower Where Does This Story Come From?The earliest printed report of this story that I've been able to find is in Rev. William J. Scott's Lectures and Essays, published in 1889. The details of the story, as Scott told it, are close to those I give above, except that Scott didn't mention flying to the lighthouse. clipping from Lectures and Essays, 1889 The story next shows up in American Authors: a hand-book of American Literature (1902) by Mildred Rutherford, who quotes directly from Scott. Finally, Poe biographer Mary E. Phillips described the hoax in her 1926 book Edgar Allan Poe: The Man. In Phillips we find the detail about the man flying from the Shot Tower to the Lighthouse. Meanwhile, the story was evidently circulating as legend in Baltimore itself. In 1995, an exhibit at the Shot Tower featured a mannequin of Poe which spoke to visitors, telling them about the April Fool hoax. Is the Story True?There's one piece of evidence that might connect Poe to the hoax. On May 6, 1831 he wrote to William Gwynn, owner of the Baltimore Gazette, asking for a job. His letter read: DEAR SIR — I am almost ashamed to ask any favour at your hands after my foolish conduct upon a former occasion — but I trust to your good nature. I am very anxious to remain and settle in Baltimore, as Mr. Allan has married again and I no longer look upon Richmond as my place of residence. This wish of mine has also met with his approbation. I wish to request your influence in obtaining some situation or employment in this city. Salary would be a minor consideration, but I do not wish to be idle. Perhaps (since I understand Neilson has left you) you might be so kind as to employ me in your office in some capacity. If so I will use every exertion to deserve your confidence. [...]

The Case of the Umbrella-Handle Parmesan Cheese


Is it true that in 1969 an Italian man was charged with selling fake Parmesan cheese made out of grated umbrella handles? The tale of the umbrella-handle parmesan cheese has been doing the rounds for quite some time. It keeps popping up, kind of like mold on cheese. The tale, as told, is never long. Rarely more than a single sentence. And it's always scant on details. The cheese forger is never named. He's just an "Italian man." Most recently a reference to the story appeared in New Scientist ("Feedback" — March 26, 2016). The magazine's editors had the sense to ask, "Can this be true?" But most of those who pass along the tale aren't as skeptical. For instance, the writers of BBC TV's QI game show have offered it up as a strange fact on their Twitter feed, and it's appeared as a "Today I Learned" factoid on Reddit. In 1969, an Italian man was caught selling ‘grated Parmesan cheese’ which turned out to be grated umbrella handles.— The QI Elves (@qikipedia) July 9, 2014 The company later claimed that not only had its hoax drawn attention to the problem of people treating dogs as mere fashion accessories, but it had also fooled many people. Lyst said that it had been "inundated with requests to purchase a pup. More than 100 people e-mailed to preorder a French Bulldog." Corporate ActivismThe hoax represented a decision by Lyst to embrace corporate activism (defined as the purposeful decision by a company to take a stand on a political or social issue). The company's head of global communications promised that in the future the company would be launching more "provocative" campaigns. Slightly more unusual was its choice to pursue its activism by means of a hoax. The use of hoaxes to raise social awareness is an old phenomenon, but traditionally this has been done by individuals or political groups. For instance, one of the earliest examples of a social-activism hoax dates back to the early 18th Century, when author Jonathan Swift published a pamphlet arguing for what he called a "Modest Proposal" — which was that the problem of Irish poverty could be solved by feeding the unwanted babies of the poor to the rich. His satirical purpose was to raise awareness both of the problem of poverty and the exploitation of the poor by the rich. During the early 21st Century, the social activist duo known as the Yes Men have frequently used hoaxes to draw attention to issues. Perhaps their most famous hoax was in 2004 when one of them, pretending to be a representative of Dow Chemical, told the BBC that the company was going to accept full responsibility for the chemical disaster in Bhopal and pay $12 billion in compensation to the victims. The faux news caused Dow's stock value to immediately drop. It's only been in the 21st Century that corporate-sponsored hoaxes have become common. In 2016 alone there have been several of them. Lyst's Canine Collection hoax was one, and earlier in the year the supermarket chain Lidl participated in a hoax purporting to promote pink soccer balls for women — the eventually revealed goal of that spoof was to satirize how women's sports often are trivialized. Why have some companies embraced hoaxing?Companies traditionally try to build a relationship of trust with consumers. So why has it become fashionable for companies to deliberately perpetrate hoaxes? There are two reasons. First is because of April Fool's Day. During the late 20th Century some companies (BMW and Taco Bell most famously) had great success running lighthearted spoof campaigns on April Fool's Day. This demonstrated that, under certain circumstances, the public was willing to accept and even celebrate a corporate-sponsored hoax. It could show that the company had a sense of humor. As a result, other companies rushed to imitate the strategy, and every April 1st now sees a flood of spoof ads. This removed the stigma from the idea of corporate-sponsored hoaxes. The second reason is the rise of social media. This has encouraged c[...]

The Dissolving Bathing Suit Hoax of 1930


A 1930 news story about women pranked by a dissolving bathing suit turned out to be a hoax — but it had a long subsequent career. Webb Miller (1891-1940) was an American journalist best known for his war reporting. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1922 and 1927. However, he also made a small contribution to the study of hoaxes, because in his 1936 memoir, I Found No Peace, he included an account of a hoax story that the media fell for — a hoax that might otherwise have faded away into obscurity, without ever having been publicly flagged as false. It was the Dissolving Bathing Suit Hoax, which involved a scandalous trick bathing suit that supposedly melted away upon contact with water. Miller didn't provide an exact date, but wrote that the hoax came to his attention while he was chief of the Paris bureau of United Press. So that would have been in the early 1920s. Here's his account of it (I Found No Peace, 1936, 144-145): In Paris I encountered an unusual illustration of the necessity of checking carefully even insignificant stories. My friend Bartley Grierson (this name is fictitious) obtained from a source he thought to be reliable a story about remarkable house parties given by a British millionaire on the French Riviera. According to information Grierson received, a new synthetic fabric had been discovered which instantly dissolved upon contact with salt water. The millionaire had a number of women's bathing suits made from the fabric. When he gave a party, he always suggested a swim in the Mediterranean and provided the suits for his women guests. The moment they entered the water, according to the story, their suits disappeared. A few days after Grierson cabled the story, he received a cablegram from his managing editor asking that several of the suits be shipped to him. He said a prominent official of a bathing-suit manufacturing company, which advertised in his newspaper, wanted the suits. When Grierson checked the story, to his chagrin he found that no such fabric existed and that the story was a hoax. He hated to admit to his editor that he had been lax in checking the story. Therefore, he hit upon the expedient of cabling to his editor: "Cannot ship suits because would dissolve in salt sea air." The editor immediately cabled back: "Put them in tin box have it hermetically sealed." Grierson was on the spot. He obtained a tin box and put into it a couple of handfuls of finely pulverized breakfast food. He then had it hermetically sealed and shipped it to his editor, who was thereupon convinced that the suits could not be shipped across the Atlantic. The News ReportThe hoaxologist Curtis MacDougall summarized Miller's story in his 1940 book Hoaxes, which is how I first came across it, almost 20 years ago. Over the years, out of curiosity, I would occasionally search through newspaper archives trying to find the correspondent's report about the dissolving suit, as it appeared in American papers. However, I could never find anything, and I eventually began to wonder if Miller's story was itself a hoax — one of those tall tales that circulate within the news industry. But just recently I happened to search for it again and struck upon the correct pattern of keywords that pulled it up. It turns out the story ran in December 1930, by which time Miller was European Bureau Chief. So he evidently got his times a bit mixed up in his memory. But otherwise the news report was pretty much as he described it, although it didn't mention any British millionaire. Ogden Standard-Examiner - Dec 4, 1930Daily Republican - Dec 4, 1930 QuestionsDid the reporter ("Grierson") who fell for the hoax really send his boss a tin box full of pulverized breakfast food? That part may well be an embellishment. Also, did the reporter fall for a deliberate hoax, or did he report an urban legend as news? It's impossible to know, but I suspect it's the latter because the story has no identifiable author (a hall[...]

Poodle Clipping As An Olympic Sport


Was poodle clipping included as an official competition in the 1900 Summer Olympics? In the months preceding the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Christopher Lyles wrote a daily "Beijing Countdown" column for The Daily Telegraph in which he would note how many days remained until the Games, and then offer an interesting Olympic fact related to that number. For instance, on March 29, 2008, with 131 days to go until the games, Lyles observed that 131 was also "the number of number of competitors who took part in last November's 'first-past-the-post' US Olympic marathon trial for this year's Games." On March 31, with 129 days remaining, he reported that the LZ 129 Hindenburg was remembered for its "brooding presence at the opening ceremony of the 1936 'Nazi' Games in Berlin," as well as for being destroyed by fire in 1937. And on April 1, with 128 days remaining, Lyles delved into the curious history of Olympic poodle clipping. Here's his full column from that day: 128: The number of competitors who participated in the poodle-clipping event at the 1900 Olympics in Paris. The event was held in the leafy environs of the Bois de Boulogne and it was the only occasion that it featured as an Olympic discipline. This, no doubt, came as a relief to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the French founding father of the modern Olympic movement, who had opposed its inclusion, but was outvoted by his International Olympic Committee colleagues. The gold medal was won by Avril Lafoule, a 37-year-old farmer's wife from the Auvergne region of France, who successfully clipped 17 poodles in the allotted two-hour time frame. The poodle-clipping competition, held on April 1, was watched by 6,000 spectators, one of the larger audiences at the most chaotic Olympic Games of all. The 1900 Olympic GamesIt's true that a number of unusual events were included in the 1900 Summer Olympics, which were the second summer games since the modern Olympics began in 1896. In these early years of the modern Olympics, there was a lot of uncertainty about which sports should be Olympic events, so some odd stuff got thrown into the mix. For instance, the 1904 summer games included competitions such as greased-pole climbing and mud fighting. (They were events set aside for "primitive" tribes from Africa and South America.) And the 1900 games, as Wikipedia notes, included ballooning, croquet, Basque pelota, and underwater swimming. But did the 1900 games include poodle clipping, as Lyles reported? No. His column for that day was an April Fool's Day joke. In hindsight, this seems like it should have been obvious. In fact, I can't find any evidence that there's ever been a poodle-clipping competition anywhere. Though perhaps some dog show once held such an event. I don't know! A Slow-Burning HoaxAmong the crop of April Fool hoaxes that came out in 2008, Lyles' effort initially didn't receive much attention. Most accolades that year went to the BBC and its remarkable pseudo-documentary about flying penguins, as well as to YouTube, which "rickrolled" all of its visitors. But Olympic poodle clipping turned out to be a slow-burning hoax with a payoff that occurred months, and even years, later. This is because Lyles' poodle article began circulating online where it was soon stripped of the context that it had been published on April 1. As a result, it quickly ascended to the status of a certifiable fact, despite the clue about gold-medal winner "Avril Lafoule." And when the summer games began on August 8 of that year, such an odd fact proved to be irresistible to reporters. I'm not sure which paper first fell into the Olympic poodle clipping trap, but once one did, many others quickly followed, like a row of dominoes being knocked down, one after another. Among the media outlets that reported Olympic poodle clipping as a true fact in August 2008 were: The Sunday Times, The Sun, the Ottawa Citizen, China Daily, the BBC's live Beijing blo[...]

The Medical Value of Maternal Kisses


Did medical researchers really conduct a study to determine whether mother's kisses of children's boo-boos had any therapeutic value? Image source: Jonathan Fenton, Flickr When a mother sees her child injured and crying, it's common for her to offer kisses to "make it better." But do these kisses work? Do they actually benefit the child? That was the question posed in a curious article that appeared in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. The Maternal Kissing StudyThe authors of the article declared their intention was to examine "the efficacy, if any, of maternal kissing of boo-boos in toddlers." To do this, they conducted a "ramdomized, controlled and double-blinded study of children with experimentally induced minor injuries." The authors wrote that they recruited 943 mother-child pairs to participate in the study. The children were then put in a situation where they would experience either a head or a hand "boo-boo." To induce head boo-boos, a piece of chocolate was placed under a low table edge and the child would be allowed to crawl to the candy. Invariably, the child would then stand to eat the chocolate and would strike his or her head on the table edge... Hand boo-boos were induced by placing a favourite object (lovey) of the child just out of reach on a counter behind a heated coil. Attempts to obtain the lovey would result in a noxious thermal stimulus to the fingertips. The coil was heated to 50 degrees Celsius (120 F) in order to produce a significant but non-damaging stimulus. After experiencing the boo-boo, the children were directed to place the injured body part "into an appropriately sized aperture in an opaque screen." One of three things then happened: 1) The injured part was kissed by the mother, 2) it was kissed by a trained researcher "free of oral ulcers," or 3) the child received no kiss at all. If the child received a kiss, he/she didn't know the identity of the kisser because of the opaque screen. The researchers then carefully documented the results, which revealed that there was "no value to maternal kisses compared to sham kisses in alleviating the distress of toddlers with boo-boos." The authors concluded, "maternal kissing of boo-boos is a common practice that appears to have no ability to reduce the distress of toddlers and may have significant untoward effects. On the basis of this study, we recommend a moratorium on the practice." Is this for real?The article is very odd. Banging toddlers on the head and burning their hands sounds more like child abuse than legitimate science. Surely the authors aren't serious about having done this? And yet, the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice is a serious publication, not a humor magazine. Launched in 1995, the journal describes itself as "a high quality international scholarly journal which is concerned with the evaluation and development of clinical practice across medicine, nursing and the allied health professions." Nor is the article labeled in any way as satire. It appears alongside obviously serious articles, such as one about "Elderly patients hospitalized in the ICU in France." All of this might lead a reader to conclude that the maternal-kissing article describes a real study. However, it doesn't. The article contains a number of clues indicating that it's satire (in addition to the absurdity of the topic itself). For instance, the authors claim their study was funded by Proctor and Johnson, the manufacturer of Bac-Be-Gone ointment and Steri-Aids self-adhesive bandages. Neither this company nor its products exist. The authors describe themselves as members of the "Study of Maternal and Child Kissing (SMACK) Working Group." Again, there is no such group. Finally, all of the cited sources in the article are completely fictitious. These sources include titles such as: Kuentz, S. (2008) So what the hell is going on [...]

Painted Ponies


(image) In 1965, a Copenhagen newspaper ran an April Fool hoax claiming that the Danish parliament was going to require all black dogs to be painted white, in order to increase road safety by making the dogs more visible at night.

Fast forward to 2015. The Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society has launched a scheme to paint ponies with reflective blue stripes in order to allow motorists to see them more easily at night. The idea is that "motorists would not see the animal, but an 'alien glow' which should slow them down." [BBC News, 10/2/2015]

Goes to show that, given enough time, all April Fool hoaxes eventually come true.

Park Rules (and other fake signs)


Jeff Wysaski's hobby is putting up fake signs at various locations such as stores, museums, or in the street. He posts examples of his creations on his blog Obvious Plant. The very first fake sign he put up was in a park, listing the Park Rules, which included that "Dogs must be clothed." Perhaps an allusion to Alan Abel's Society for the Indecency to Naked Animals?


Other examples of his work include a "7-Ft. Kid Jail" sign that he placed at Toys R Us, and various in-store reviews he placed throughout Ikea.



Wisconsin Concrete Deer Hoax


If you live in Wisconsin, you DO NOT need to remove the deer statues from your front lawn. They can stay where they are, no matter how tacky your neighbors might think they are.

Recently, some Wisconsin residents reported receiving a letter, apparently from the state's Department of Natural Resources, informing them to "please remove any concrete deer ornaments from your lawn by November 1, 2015."

The letter went on to explain that the Department would be conducting a state-wide deer count "and some yard ornaments may have been counted over the past two years by mistake."


On Monday (Sep 29, 2015), the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources posted an official denial of this letter on its Facebook page:

Several of you have contacted us regarding a document that appears to be a letter from DNR asking people to remove concrete deer ornaments from their yards. This letter is a fake. It was not crafted, nor distributed by DNR. DNR is not asking the public to remove concrete deer ornaments or any other lawn ornaments from their yard.

So there you have it. The concrete deer can stay.


The $12 Million Message In A Bottle


In 1949, did a California restaurant worker really find a will sealed inside a bottle that bequeathed millions of dollars to him, as the finder of the bottle? The story goes that on March 16, 1949, Jack J. Wurm was walking along a beach near San Francisco when he noticed a liquor bottle washed up on the sand. Jack was a man of modest means. He worked in the kitchen of a restaurant and lived in a small, rented house with his wife. However, his luck was about to change. Jack noticed there was something inside the bottle. So he opened it up and removed a piece of brown wrapping paper on which the following message was written: To avoid all confusion I leave my entire estate to the lucky person who finds this bottle and to my attorney, Barry Cohen, share and share alike. Daisy Alexander - June 20, 1937 Jack hadn't heard of Daisy Alexander, so he thought the message was probably "a prank of some college kid." Nevertheless, he saved the bottle and message, and three months later told some friends at a party about his discovery. One of his friends, a GI who had just returned from serving in England, immediately recognized the name. Daisy Alexander, he informed Jack, was the daughter of the sewing-machine magnate Isaac Singer. From what he had heard, she had died in 1940 at the age of 80, injured by the blast of a German bomb that hit her London home. But more importantly for Jack, she had died childless, worth about $12 million, and without a will. Her lawyer believed she had written a will shortly before her death, but despite a highly publicized search for the document, he had been unable to find it. So the courts were unsure of how to dispose of her estate. Jack's friend urged him to get in touch with Alexander's lawyer, Barry Cohen, and Jack promptly did this. He was unsure of the lawyer's address, so he sent a letter to the London postmaster asking him to forward his correspondence to Cohen, which the postmaster did. Soon Jack and the lawyer were in touch. Jack sent a copy of the message-in-a-bottle will to the lawyer, who concluded that it appeared to be genuine. So Jack stood to inherit $6 million, his half of Alexander's fortune. He would get the money just as soon as a British court made everything official. Though this, of course, could take some time. And that's how the story goes. Good story, but is it true?The tale of Jack Wurm's fortuitous discovery is a popular one. It's been told numerous times in newspapers, magazines, and on radio shows. It's the titular story in a book — The twelve million dollar note: Strange but true tales of messages found in seagoing bottles, by Robert Kraske (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1977). And it's also often been used frequently in sermons (such as here and here). The lesson that the sermonizers derive from it is that if Jack Wurm had thrown away the seemingly ridiculous message, he would never have inherited anything. Likewise, they argue, people should not toss aside the Christian message of the Bible, no matter how ridiculous they think it sounds, lest they miss the great reward it offers. However, the story has been questioned by skeptics. For instance, the Kirkus Review of Kraske's book took the author to task for uncritically accepting the veracity of the tale, and questioned whether there even was such a person as Daisy Alexander: Kraske appears to have collected clippings—many, of the column-filler sort—without necessarily checking them out. The titular story, for instance, tells of a San Francisco dishwasher whose lucky bottle bore a will naming the finder heir to the signatory's estate. And she, one "Daisy Alexander," was—his friend tells him—"the only child of Isaac Singer, the American sewing-machine millionaire." Now it happens that Singer had a notorious score of children[...]

Boyfriend was really a girlfriend


Almost too weird to believe: Gayle Newland says that for two years she thought she was meeting and having sex with her boyfriend, Kye Fortune... a boyfriend whom she never set eyes on because she wore a blindfold the entire time they were together. Kye insisted on this, saying he was ashamed of scars from a car accident and "anxious about the way he looked."

But according to a criminal complaint Newland has filed, she eventually discovered that this "boyfriend" was actually one of her female friends wearing a prosthetic penis. She's now suing that friend for sexual assault.

More info: