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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

Hoaxes

AP: Doctor finds spiders in ear of boy with earache

by Ken Newquist / May 7, 2007

Given the history of spider urban legends, this is sure to mutate into its own horrifying story in about, oh, 20 minutes. According to this Associated Press story (which includes a photo of the kid holding up a jar with the drowned spiders in it and quotes from the doctor involved), 9-year-old Jesse Courtney of Albany, Oregon complained of hearing crackling and popping noises in his ear.

Snopes: Is Bill Clinton a Draft-Dodging Pardoned Felon?

by Ken Newquist / February 3, 2007

Ah, Bill Clinton. I'd almost forgotten about all the great hoaxes, urban legends and miscellaneous crap that was circulating the Internet back in the heady days of the Dot Boom. Now that his wife is looking to make a presidential run, it's all floating back to the surface, as is illustrated by the email alleging that Bill Clinton is the first pardoned felon ever to server as the president of the United States. It's alleged that he broke the law by dodging the draft, and then was pardoned as part of Jimmy Carter's blanket draft-dodging pardon in 1977.

Snopes.com has an excellent debunking of this e-mail, pointing out that while he may have used political favors and broken promises to avoid the draft, Bill Clinton never officially broke the law.

CNN: Holidays Bring Out Online Scammers

by Ken Newquist / November 21, 2006

Phishing season is about to begin in earnest as holiday shoppers flock to web sites to buy presents for their loved ones ... and fall victim to a variety of scams aimed at tricking folks into believing their at a trusted retailer's web site when it fact its a dummy site created by a bunch of scammers in [insert obscure country name here]. CNN looks at a bunch of possible scams, from phishing to fake auctions.

Open Thread: Hoax Debunking Requests

by Ken Newquist / October 24, 2006

I need more hoaxes to debunk. From Nuketown's search logs, I can tell that people are looking for information about hoaxes, including many hoaxes that I haven't debunked. What they're not doing, however, is telling me about those hoaxes. And there's not a lot I can do debunking-wise if I don't have the text of a hoax to investigate.

This is an open call for hoax submissions. If you have one you'd like to see debunked send the complete text of the suspect e-mail to me by emailing me at nuketown@gmail.com,

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!:

Wired: Baiters Teach Scammers a Lesson

by Ken Newquist / August 6, 2006

For years, third-world scammers have been getting first-world greedy fools to part with their money by promising them millions in exchange for their account information. Now international bands of vigilantes are turning the tables by replying the scammers and getting them to undertake all manner of bizarre tasks, from getting tattooes to taking photographs of themselves to sending money. Wired.com has the full story.

My sympathy for those who get scammed is limited -- if you honestly think that you can get 10% of the fortune left to the widow of a Nigeran army general by allowing your bank account to serve as a money laundry, then you'll probably get what you deserve.

Do Disposable Chopsticks Foretell a Toxic Doom?

by Ken Newquist / August 2, 2006

For the last few weeks I've seen people searching for "toxic chopsticks" on Nuketown, which I assumed was in regards to some sort of hoax, but since no one ever sent me the text, I couldn't debunk it.

This morning I tried searching Snopes.com and came up with the story "Chopsticks". According to Snopes, the original e-mail claims that disposable chopsticks can cause cancer via bleach left over from their creation. It's based on a post made to Chinese-language message boards, and it's definitely bogus.

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