The “Knockout Game” has repeatedly made headlines on CNN, but it has all the makings of an urban legend to rival gang members killing people for flashing their high beams or hiding underneath cars to slash their victim’s ankles.
In this edition of Hoax Central we review hoaxes spawned by the Boston Marathon bombing, evaluate Joel Osteen’s religious identify crisis, debunk a sexually transmitted disease, and learn the true story beyond Mr. Roger’s advice to “look for the helpers” during a crisis.
An email making its way around the internet is claiming that President Barrak Obama turned down the traditional presidential role of leader of the Boy Scouts of America and refuses to sign Eagle Scout congratulatory letters. Snopes.com explains that the email is bunk.
The thing I love most about urban legends is how they mutate over time. Snopes.com has an excellent debunking of one such debunking: “The Lost Day.” It recounts a tale in which NASA scientists doing orbital calculations are startled to discover a day of missing time … which a Christian follower is able to quickly … Read more
Is the red supergiant Betelgeuse about to go supernova, giving Earth a second sun and half of its inhabitants a nasty burn? The short answer according to astronomer Phil Plait, is that yes, Betelgeuse could go tomorrow, but if it did it’s greatest impact on the Earth would be to give us a new celestial … Read more
Snopes.com debunks the claim that a “dark ring around the moon” presages a cancer-causing acid rain storm. The myth starts off claiming that this is an event that happens once every 750 years but mutates to say that the volcanic eruptions in Iceland are to blame.
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 … Read more
It’s like a scene out of a horror movie: an unsuspecting woman pumps gas into her car, only to be summoned inside by a gas attendant who informs her that — horrors! — a knife wielding lunatic is lurking in the backseat. In truth, it is a scene from a horror movie — the horror … Read more
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 … Read more
Can a prescooler get drunk and even die from drinking hand sanitizer? The short answer is … yes, they can. The following e-mail describes swallowing a squirt of hand sanitizer was enough to make a four-year-old loopy and while it gets some of the specifics wrong — namely that the child couldn’t have had an … Read more