Deepfakes has democratized the creation of extremely realistic video faceswapping, especially in porn

Late last year, a redditor called Deepfakes gained notoriety for the extremely convincing face-swap porn videos he was making, in which the faces of mainstream Hollywood actors and rockstars were convincingly overlaid on the bodies of performers in pornography. Read the rest

In California, an underground network of anti-vax doctors will write your kid a medical exemption letter to get them out of their vaccinations

After an outbreak of measles at Disneyland, California lawmakers had enough and passed SB277, banning kids from attending the state's schools unless they were fully vaccinated, and eliminating the waiver that let parents put their kids and others' in danger by signing a form stating that "immunization is contrary to my beliefs." Read the rest

Ghostwatch, the greatest TV Halloween hoax of all time

When I was a kid, home alone in 1993, I turned on the TV to find one of those live call-in shows. "Ghostwatch" was presented as light-hearted Halloween fun from the BBC, jumping between phone calls from the public, panel discussion and an on-location "real life" paranormal investigation.

In the studio was the trusted greybeard and sceptic Michael Parkinson, talking to an expert on the paranormal. In the house, engaging with a mother and two young girls, was the Children’s BBC darling Sarah Greene. Greene’s husband, Mike Smith, manned a bank of phones in a Crimewatch-style set up, with a number flashing at the bottom of the screen. If you called the number, as thousands of people did, you got through to a bank of real parapsychologists. ... Craig Charles, then at the height of his fame with Red Dwarf, was the reporter on the ground, mocking the entire enterprise...

But it was really a movie, a novel and realistic hoax. Ghostwatch (available now on DVD) headed an inch at a time from its convincing, deliberately boring reality show framing into a demonic nightmare. This was stunningly original work in 1993 and the nation was savaged by it. The over-the-top ending, intended to make it all look like hokey fun, seemed to have the opposite effect: they killed the key presenter of Children's BBC on "live" television, at the hands of a dead child molester's spirit, while knowing that the children would be watching! Or, worse, sent to bed by their parents as they realized where the show was going. Read the rest

Step right up for the incredible real-life story of the marvelous Cardiff Giant

In 1869, two men were digging a well on the farm of William Newell in Cardiff, New York when they discovered the body of a ten-foot-tall man buried in the earth. Unfortunately, the famed Cardiff Giant was actually just a statue that Newell's cousin had buried in a hoax meant to provoke discussions around religion while bringing in a ton of cash from people who desperately wanted to believe that biblical stories of giant humans were true, or were simply jonesing for a dose of wonder. From Smithsonian:

Hull was an atheist, a controversial stance for that time in American history, and “though he lacked any formal education, greatly admired science.” He wasn’t wealthy, either, and his plan for the Cardiff giant included both striking it rich and proving a point about the relationship between science and faith.

The giant was sold to a group of businessmen and went on tour. Eventually, its popularity attracted the attention of the age’s greatest huckster, P.T. Barnum. After the businessmen wouldn’t sell him their stony cash cow, Barnum created a replica and began showing it as the real thing. The owners of the authentic “giant” tried to sue Barnum, but according to Rose, the judge hearing the case just said “Bring your giant here, and if he swears to his own genuineness as a bona fide petrification, you shall have the injunction you ask for.” In other words: You can’t really have a fake of a fake.

"The Cardiff Giant Was Just a Big Hoax"

Read the rest

Alien Autopsy: the one-man theater show from one of the hoaxers!

Remember the 1995 TV program Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction that we all wanted to believe was real? Of course, the ET autopsy turned out to be a hoax, or rather, according to producer Ray Santilli, a "reconstruction" of film shot in 1947 that he had seen. Now, one of the hoaxers, Spyros Melaris, has staged a one-man show in London's East End to tell the real (?) story behind the story of the autopsy that you can watch below. From Paul Seaburn's article at Mysterious Universe:

(Melaris) claims he was the director of the film and the one responsible for creating the fake aliens and other special effects. Melaris says he met Ray Santilli, the producer and name most associated with the autopsy film, in 1995 at a music event in Cannes. Santilli later confided that he had the actual footage of an alien autopsy and wanted Melaris to make a documentary about it.

However, when Santilli showed him a copy of the alleged ‘real’ film, Melaris determined it was a fake shot on video. He says he instead agreed to make a fake version of the autopsy on film, release it as the real thing and them make another documentary on how they pulled off the fake. He hired John Humphreys, a special effects expert who has worked on Dr. Who, to make the alien’s body using his 10-year-old son as a model. Melaris bought 1940s surgical outfits, used cow, sheep, pig and lamb organs (the local butcher must have loved them) for the alien’s internal parts and spliced in footage from a 1947 newsreel.

Read the rest

Oregon police try to calm distressed citizens over alleged missing baby giraffe

Police from Beaverton, Oregon are striking down what they say are bogus claims on social media about a missing baby giraffe, according to their twitter account.

Concerns grew after a Craigslist post emerged Saturday claiming a giraffe calf named Raffi disappeared during what was likely a quest for some grapes from a nearby vineyard, according to the Oregonian.

Beaverton PD says it never received any calls from the alleged owner and is not searching for a missing giraffe, but would, should such an incident arise.  

The posting has since been flagged for removal.

Read the rest

Predatory "scientific journals" tricked into publishing Star Wars-themed hoax

Robbo writes, "A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. We know this because Neuroskeptic wrote it and posted about it on the Discover Magazine site. The paper was about Midi-chlorians and attributed to Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin. Neuroskeptic takes us through the process used to create the bogus paper and the varied repsonses from the half-assed 'peer review' journals who accepted the work." Read the rest

Newspaper hoax about the gruesome results of a mass breakout at the Central Park Zoo

A new episode of Nate DiMeo's Memory Palace podcast is out and it's a good one. It's about a newspaper hoax about the gruesome results of a mass breakout at the Central Park Zoo, which Nate "turns into a comment on Fake News/Pizza Gate/etc by way of an Edward Gorey story." Nate is a terrific storyteller, and I highly recommend every episode of the Memory Palace. Read the rest

Advanced de-faking: using public sources to trace the true age of a suspected propaganda video

Henk van Ess teaches workshops in online investigative techniques; he worked with colleagues and a team of students from Axel Springer Academie to analyze a viral news video that purported to show a discarded missile launcher that had been discovered near Cairo's international airport in 2011, but only published last month. Read the rest

It's awesome to see all these "rogue" government agency Twitter accounts, but what about hoaxes?

In the immediate aftermath of the Trump administration's gag orders on government employees disclosing taxpayer-funded research results, a series of high-profile "rogue" government agency accounts popped up on Twitter, purporting to be managed by civil servants who are unwilling to abide by the gag order. Read the rest

Obviously fake "paid protester" site sets right wing media aflutter

Demand Protest, a service that bills itself as providing "deliver[ing the appearance of rage] at scale while keeping your reputation intact" purportedly pays protesters $2500/month plus $50/hour for left-wing protesters to take to the streets, and claims to have run 48 campaigns, despite having only registered its domain last month (it also displays a copyright notice that spans 2015-2017). Read the rest

Hugely successful Facebook fake news author considers himself a "satirist"

Paul Horner says he made more than $10,000 month writing fake news on Facebook that was widely shared by Trump supporters and picked up by the real press -- for example, hoax stories about protesters being paid to turn out against Trump -- and that he targeted Trump supporters as an act of "satire" to show that they would credulously share anything, providing that it confirmed their conspiracy theories about the left and the Democratic party. Read the rest

Oppps.ru: patient zero in Russia's fake news epidemic

Donald Trump did not slam the International Paralympic Committee's decision to bar Russian athletes from the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and the BBC never quoted him as saying, "The decision to bar Russian Paralympics athletes was made by complete retards. These people are the real cripples." But virtually every news outlet in Russia ran a story saying both things were true, after Oppps.ru (The Optimist) ran a completely false story to that effect. Read the rest

Fake Buddha Quotes collected

I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha flags and explains the many misquotes attributed to the sage. It's collected and maintained by Bodhipaksa, a Buddhist author since 1982 and a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order.

They’re everywhere you look: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, quotes sites — even in books by well-known Buddhists. Fake Buddha Quotes abound.

To those who are familiar with the Buddhist scriptures, these Hallmark-style quotes attributed to the Buddha ring false, but it seems many people are preferentially attracted to the fake variety.

It’s hard sometimes to pinpoint why they sound fake. Usually it’s the language, which may be too flowery and poetic. Sometimes it’s the subject matter, which sounds too contemporary. The thing is, that although the Buddhist scriptures are vast (way larger than the Bible) they’re often not very quotable, or at least they tend not to have the immediate appeal that some of the fake variety has.

Bonus: Real Buddha Quotes that sound fake, such as “People with opinions just go around bothering each other.” Read the rest

Burger King workers keep smashing the windows because hoax callers tell them to

A string of hoax calls to Burger King restaurants had employees smash windows to prevent the premises from "exploding," and the fast-food chain is having to buy a lot of glass as a result.

To the frantic manager of a Coon Rapids Burger King Friday night, the choice was to act fast or face disaster.

A caller who said he was a fire department official said there was a gas leak in the building and that unless the windows were smashed, a gas buildup in the building would cause an explosion. So the manager and Burger King employees evacuated the restaurant and started smashing ground floor windows. Every single one.

Problem was, it was a hoax. The caller was no firefighter. There was no gas. ...

YouTube has at least a couple videos posted showing employees of other Burger Kings doing the same thing. Sites in Oklahoma City and Morro Bay, Calif., have also been hit by the hoax, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Read the rest

Covert scan of museum's Nefertiti bust appears to be hoax

Last month I blogged about Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, a pair of artists who released a high-resolution scan of a looted Egyptian bust of Nefertiti in the collection of Berlin's Neues Museum, which has a reputation for refusing to make data from its collection (including 3D scans) public. Read the rest

All those 2015 Halloween scare stories exposed

The "pot-laced" candy that a man from Ohio complained about was tested by police and had no traces of drugs. The razor blade in a Hershey bar had been placed there by the kid who found it. The needle in the candy bar was the handiwork of a kid looking for attention. The 16-year-old girl who said she needed 23 stitches to sew her cheek back together after chewing bubble gum with a razor blade hidden in it admitted the wound was self-inflicted.

Jesse Walker of Reason says his favorite 2015 Halloween scare hoax involves "a man named Robert Ledrew [who] told first his Facebook friends and then the police that he'd found four sewing needles in his children's goodies. This time the parent turned out to be the hoaxer: Ledrew eventually confessed to the cops that he had inserted the objects himself, claiming he'd been trying to teach his kids a safety lesson. He certainly taught them some sort of lesson: He's being charged with filing a false police report.

Read the rest

More posts