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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Hoax Debunkings

Hoax Central: Don't Pump Gas, Aircraft Carriers Swarming, Easter Myths

by Ken Newquist / April 2, 2013

Here's a look at recent hoaxes, scams and even (shock!) a real story circulating via email and Facebook. They include a golden oldie about not pumping gas on April 15, a rant about aircraft carriers gathering in Norfolk, Va., a run down of Easter's pagan traditions, and more.

Revenge of the Mars Hoax

by Ken Newquist / May 24, 2009

Mars is invading. Or so claims a resurrected hoax that claims that the Red Planet will soon appear as large as the Moon in the night sky. It's a tweaked version of an earlier hoax from 2003, when Mars really was at its closest approach to Earth in thousands of years ... but remained a fuzzy red dot in the night sky. Read Space.com's new debunking or check out Nuketown's original one.

Anti-Harry Potter Email Confuses Satire with Satan

by Ken Newquist / September 4, 2007

It was a big summer for Harry Potter. The seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, as was the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. After reading the first and seeing the second, I was reminded of a hoax I've had sitting on my hard drive for a few years, just waiting to be debunked.

It's entitled "Magic Vs Jesus" and it claims that not only is are the Harry Potter books inherently Satantic, they are also causing a mass conversion to Satanism among today's youth. And it's got the quotes to back them up.

Unfortunately for the e-mail's author, the quotes it so feverishly believes in were taken from a fictional article in the satirical webzine The Onion.

Here's the original e-mail:

Subject: Fw: Magic Vs Jesus

"Jesus died because He was weak and stupid"; this is a quote from
6-year-old Jessica Lehman of Easley, SC, after reading the HARRY POTTER BOOKS!
"Hermione is my favorite, because she's smart and has a kitty,"

The following is an email sent for the American Family Association:

Dear friend:

This is the most evil thing I have laid my eyes on in 10 years ... and no
one seems to understand its threat. The Harry Potter books are THE
NUMBER ONE selling children's books in the nation today. Just look at any Barnes

Mars to Earth: You Missed Your Big Close-up (Again)

by Ken Newquist / August 25, 2007

An e-mail claims that Mars will soon be looming so large in our skies that it will rival the moon. The truth is that while Mars did get very close to Earth a few years ago, that merely turned it into a slightly brighter red star in the sky. If it actually did get as close as the email claims, the Earth would be wracked by high tides and thrown out of its orbit.

Here's the email.

Captured 8/24/07

Two Moons on 27th, August 2007*

*27th August; the day the Whole World is waiting for .....

Morphed "A Card for You" Hoax Pulls Virtual Bait and Switch

by Ken Newquist / August 6, 2007

An old virus hoax stumbles back to virtual life with a debunking bait-and-switch that points to a real threat, then repeats the same tired warning.

Date Captured: 8/6/07

Subject: Serious Virus Threat per CNN Report Be cautious of this. Here is a link to the snopes page:  http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/postcard.asp

PLEASE  SEND THIS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST!!

The Case of Neil Armstrong's Missing "A"

by Ken Newquist / October 2, 2006

Neil Armstrong long maintained that when he uttered his famous phrase "One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind", there was an 'a' in there between 'for' and 'Man'. Austrialian programmer Peter Shann Ford analyzed NASA's recording of the phrase, and says Armstrong was right. It'd be nice to if other researchers confirmed the existance of the missing "a", which has dogged Armstrong for years (as this account on Snopes.com shows).

In related Neil Armstrong news, despite myriad rumors to the contrary, he has not converted to Islam. And no, Mr. Gorsky didn't get lucky when Armstrong touched down at Tranquility Base.

"Invitation" Virus Hoax Says Olympic Torch Will Burn Hard Drives

by Ken Newquist / September 1, 2006

The "Virtual Card for You" e-mail hoax has mutated yet again, promising hard drive devastation in a slightly different form: that of an Olypmic torch that "burns" your hard drive. While it earns bonus points for imagry, "Invitation" remains just as false as its predecessors.

Here's the text of the email:

Date Captured: 8/17/2006

Be considerate & send this warning to whomever you know. PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND ALL CONTACTS!:

E-mail Claims Osama Bin Laden Photos Lead to Hard Drive Destruction

by Ken Newquist / July 24, 2006

An e-mail claiming to showcase photos of a hanged/hanging and/or captured Osama din Laden is a hoax. The e-mail originated as an attempt to get people to download a trojan horse virus on to their computer, but it later morphed into a scare mail warning people about the alleged apocalyptic dangers of opening the e-mail. The virus itself has been neutralized, and the dangers were never as bad as what the hoax e-mail claims.

Full debunkings of this hoax/virus can be found on Snopes.com, About.com and Hoax Slayer.

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