Fact or Fiction?

A look at conspiracy theories, “official truths”, political spin, propaganda, tall tales, urban legends, magic, and illusion, all as they relate to the Art of the Prank. When truth intersects with a personal agenda, established facts are challenged, or human gullibility is preyed upon for ulterior motives, we hope that skepticism, logic, reason, and facts have a balancing effect.

Blog Posts

CEO Prankster Deceives Walmart Shoppers

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Filed under: Parody, Propaganda and Disinformation

CEO Pulls Bogus Stunt In Attempt To Discredit Walmart Workers
Huffington Post
December 17, 2013

o-SCHIFF-200Walmart usually speaks for itself just fine. But that hasn’t stopped a wealthy Wall Streeter from taking up its cause, protesting against higher wages for Walmart workers.

Peter Schiff, the wealthy, libertarian CEO of Euro Pacific Capital Inc., a Connecticut brokerage firm, recently passed some time berating shoppers outside an unnamed Walmart, as you can see in the video, which Schiff released on Monday.

Pretending to act on behalf of Walmart workers asking for higher wages, Schiff asked shoppers to fork over 15 percent of whatever they had just spent at Walmart in support of a $15 minimum wage for Walmart workers. He even created a fake name for the group he pretended to support, “15 for 15.”

Schiff’s real motive apparently was to convince these shoppers that paying higher wages to Walmart workers — an idea many of these shoppers supported — would drive up the prices at Walmart by 15 percent. Walmart workers on Black Friday staged protests around the country seeking higher wages, though not necessarily $15 an hour. One actual pro-worker group, OUR Walmart, is seeking a $13 minimum wage for Walmart workers.

In any event, Schiff’s claim that prices would have to rise 15 percent to cover a $15 wage still doesn’t exactly line up with, how do you say, economics.

Read the rest of the article here.

Fiddle File #8

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #8

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

Los Angeles: Poor dear, is an evil curse keeping you from finding true love? No problem, for something just short of a million bucks this psychic will fix you right up. Think so?

Your Computer: The email says your package is on its way. But you didn’t order any package. Well, better check. Nope, better not, unless you want to be phished for personal and banking info.

Atlanta: Whew, sure glad Home Depot has public restrooms. Whoa, sure hate that some jerk decorated the seats with glue.

Your Computer: You’re active in online communities like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and LinkedIn. Yum, scammers love you.

Everywhere: A good selection here, “The Twelve Scams of Christmas,” nefarious activities by scammers which you may encounter this season.

(more…)

‘Fake’ interpreter at Nelson Mandela Memorial?

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

An apparently fake deaf interpreter takes the stage (man to right of speaker) at Mandela’s memorial. No word on who he is or how he got there yet.

FakeDeafInterpreterMandela

Watch the video:

For the full story visit http://limpingchicken.com/2013/12/10/

The Fiddle File #7

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Filed under: Prank Busters, Urban Legends

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #7

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

Washington State: I read the news today, oh boy. Fake article posted about son’s alleged suicide.

China: Do these eggs taste kind of funny to you? I mean, not funny ha-ha, funny yuck.

Vancouver BC: The on-line date you haven’t met yet has hit you up for $500,000 in loans. Talk about screwed without a kiss.

Washington DC: Sorry to hear you slipped on a banana peel. By the way, that’s a felony.

Watch the video

Louisiana: You jokingly yell to your sleeping friend that the car is on fire and about to explode. His panic reaction leads to a near-death experience.

(more…)

Sobering Up on the Python Story

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Filed under: Prank Busters, Urban Legends

From Joe King: Apparently the python-swallows-drunk tale has appeared in various permutations here there and everywhere


‘Python Eats Drunk Man in India’ Most Likely a Hoax; Media Outlets Fooled
by Jack Phillips
Epoch Times
November 28, 2013

An article titled “Python Eats Drunk Man in India” is a hoax, according to a report.

python-india-425

David Emery with About.com wrote that the photo, which shows a python with a large object inside of it as people stand nearby, has been around for at least two years.

“Depending on which version of the story you read, the overstuffed python above swallowed a drunk guy in India, an unknown woman in South Africa, an unknown man in Qujing, China, a person of unknown gender in Indonesia, or a 4-year-old child in Malaysia,” he wrote. (more…)

Political Facades

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Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

Russia: Fake facades on unkempt homes ‘to impress Putin’
BBC News…as found by BBC Monitoring
26 November 2013

A Russian city has wrapped its dilapidated buildings in fake facades ahead of a planned visit by President Vladimir Putin, it’s emerged.

suzsalhouse_425

Local authorities in the historic city of Suzdal draped unkempt traditional wooden houses in banners camouflaged to look like well-tended facades, complete with carved window frames and flowerpots in the windows, according to a blog post by a local journalist. The sprucing-up operation earlier in November came ahead of a national conference of local government leaders that Putin was scheduled to attend.

Media websites – such as Moskovsky Komsomolets – were quick to liken the result to fake villages said to have been erected by Catherine the Great’s favourite, Grigory Potemkin, in war-ravaged regions of southern Ukraine in the 18th Century. This was allegedly done in an effort to impress the visiting empress and foreign ambassadors. The window-dressing habit apparently continued in Soviet Russia. Stories abound of regional authorities giving blocks of flats quick licks of paint and stacking fresh goods in usually barren shops ahead of visits by party bigwigs.

In Suzdal’s case, the effort seems to have been in vain. Putin never got around to putting in an appearance after all.

More photos from lgatta-felice.livejournal

fakefacades1

(more…)

The Fiddle File #6

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Filed under: Prank Busters

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #6

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

Worldwide: Looking for love in Thailand? Hopefully you don’t use the same password elsewhere.

U.S./U.K.: If your Windows system has been hit by CryptoLocker you probably aren’t reading this. Otherwise, extreme caution is vital, this ransomware is very effective (Via Graham Cluly’s Security Newsletter).

Vancouver: The attack-passerby-with-a-fake-axe trick gets you a nice pair of police-issue bracelets to wear all the way to jail.

Colorado: Stick a toy pistol in a cop’s face. Luckily he doesn’t react as some might, you’re under arrest rather than under six feet of dirt.

England: “Night climbing” on the roof of an 11th century world heritage site cathedral may not improve your class standing.

(more…)

The Fiddle File #5

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Filed under: Prank Busters

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #5

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

scream-197

New Jersey: Superstorm Sandy brought us many tales of heroics but there is a dark side as well, unscrupulous predators using phony charities, inflated pricing and phony promises to scam victims.

Nationwide: Have you been tempted to help billionaire Warren Buffett in his crusade to reform Congress? Sorry, but the popular email solicitation is a hoax.

Everywhere: Do you search your business name regularly? It may have been hijacked for placement of phony supply orders or other nefarious purposes.

Australia: Congratulations, you just won a vacation sweepstakes. Scratch that. You just won a chance to spend 25 years in jail.

Ohio: Sorry about your loss, here’s a fake bill for funeral flowers to add to it.

California: Spending the rest of your life in a cage hardly seems sufficient payback for ripping off folks who lost homes due to wildfires.

Everywhere: Many of us use PayPal to make electronic payments. Things can go awry.

Australia: But it could happen anywhere. Fake phishing pages planted within genuine web sites. (Similar to Better Business Bureau warning on business names being hijacked).

Global: Swell Internet deals on cars, motorcycles, boats and more, just wire the money to this gang of Roumanian crooks who set up fake sites that look legit.

England: We could fill pages with items on stupid prank 911 calls but here’s one worth mention. Cops bust the door down in response to a call placed by your cat.


Size Matters When it Comes to Squid

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Filed under: Hype, Urban Legends

How Big Is A Colossal Squid Really?
by Dr. M
October 22, 2013

1391786_525109187575495_623450377_n

Recently, Quarks to Quasar’s on Facebook published an illustration of how massive a Colossal Squid can reach. The Facebook post was liked by 3,300 people and shared 1,150 times (they have 351k followers). I am excited that the Colossal Squid is loved by this many people. One problem. The illustration is wrong. Really wrong. Although the Colossal Squid can reach, well, colossal proportions, the length of this big squid is grossly exaggerated in the above illustration. (more…)

Mike Merrill, Human IPO

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?

An interesting metaphor for the merging of life and work…


Meet the Man Who Sold His Fate to Investors at $1 a Share
by Joshua Davis
Wired
March 28, 2013

mikemerrill-425

On January 26, 2008, a 30-year-old part-time entrepreneur named Mike Merrill decided to sell himself on the open market. He divided himself into 100,000 shares and set an initial public offering price of $1 a share. Each share would earn a potential return on profits he made outside of his day job as a customer service rep at a small Portland, Oregon, software company. Over the next 10 days, 12 of his friends and acquaintances bought 929 shares, and Merrill ended up with a handful of extra cash. He kept the remaining 99.1 percent of himself but promised that his shares would be nonvoting: He’d let his new stockholders decide what he should do with his life.

Read the full article here.

Make-up Art To Die For

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Parody

Join Me In Death, by Ignacio Espejo on DeviantArt:


joinmeindeath-425

via BoingBoing

Cockroach Cure-all, Deja Vu

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

From Larry W.: Perhaps the legend of Dr. Gregor and his Metamorphosis cockroach cure, a hoax propagated by Joey Skaggs in 1981, finally made it to China and kick-started an industry.


Cockroaches: the new miracle cure for China’s ailments
by Malcolm Moore
The Telegraph
October 24, 2013

Cockroach farming is booming in China as the country looks for new, cheaper medicines for its rapidly ageing population

a-fistful-of-roach_200The correct way to eat a cockroach, at least in this corner of northern China, is to fry it not once but twice in a wok of smoking hot oil.

“The second time makes the shell crispy and the inside succulent,” said 43-year-old Wang Fuming, as he tipped a bowl of freshly harvested bugs, one or two of their legs still twitching, into the sizzling pan.

Mr Wang is the leading cockroach farmer in Shandong province, with more than 22 million of the insects living in a series of nondescript, concrete bunkers in the suburbs of Jinan.

After cooking, Mr Wang gently ladled them onto a plate, their bodies plumped with the oil and their wings slightly spread, before sprinkling a packet of instant noodle powder – pickled cabbage flavour – over the dish.

“It would be better if we had some chilli,” he apologised.

The cockroach, whose innards resemble cottage cheese, has an earthy taste, with a slight twinge of ammonia. But they have become popular in China not for their taste, but for their medicinal benefits.

“They really are a miracle drug,” said Liu Yusheng, a professor at the Shandong Agricultural university and the head of Shandong province’s Insect Association. “They can cure a number of ailments and they work much faster than other medicine.”

Read the rest of the article and watch the video here.

Related:

  • Cockroaches, A Race Above, Joey Skaggs, 1981
  • Cockroaches could help combat MRSA and E.coli, The Telegraph, 2010
  • Ask The Fiddler #12: Everybody Discovered America!

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    Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends, You Decide

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    Dear Fiddler:

    Much as I appreciate a holiday in honor of Columbus, I’ve seen reports that he may be getting undeserved credit. So, who discovered America?

    Annie in Montpelier

    Dear Annie:

    This is a subject steeped in considerable controversy.

    beach-425

    There are those who contend that the real problem is, the whole thing is taught back-asswards. The truth of the matter is, as these contrarians see it, Native Americans discovered Europe. We’ll delve deeper into that matter in a bit, but first let’s have a look at some other contenders for the exploit attributed to Columbus.

    It might be worth noting that boats without motors can be unpredictable vehicles. Over the vast expanse of human time, wouldn’t you suspect that a great many drifiting boats from afar inadvertently “discovered” America?

    Further, there is the factor that might be called the macho double-dare. “Buddy, I’ll bet you ten conch shells and a bucket of whale blubber the world ain’t flat.” How many reckless young sailors set off to see what lay beyond the horizon?

    And we can’t discount greed, the search for riches.

    Lastly there is the incentive provided by barbaric hordes coming over the hill. How often in the violent history of mankind was it time to pack your shit and git, possibly sailing off for parts unknown?

    The thing is, dang near everybody discovered America. A bit of research will reveal that, whatever your heritage, you can probably make a claim of relatedness to a discoverer of America. (more…)

    Fox News’ Spin Doctors – Keeping the Critics at Bay

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    Filed under: Media Literacy, Spin

    Fox News Reportedly Used Fake Commenter Accounts To Rebut Critical Blog Posts
    by Ben Dimiero
    Media Matters
    October 20, 2013

    New Book Details An Extensive Campaign By The Networks’ PR Staffers

    fox-sockpuppet-425

    NPR media reporter David Folkenflik writes in his forthcoming book Murdoch’s World that Fox News’ public relations staffers used an elaborate series of dummy accounts to fill the comments sections of critical blog posts with pro-Fox arguments.

    In a chapter focusing on how Fox utilized its notoriously ruthless public relations department in the mid-to-late 00′s, Folkenflik reports that Fox’s PR staffers would “post pro-Fox rants” in the comments sections of “negative and even neutral” blog posts written about the network. According to Folkenflik, the staffers used various tactics to cover their tracks, including setting up wireless broadband connections that “could not be traced back” to the network.

    A former staffer told Folkenflik that they had personally used “one hundred” fake accounts to plant Fox-friendly commentary: Read the whole article here.

    via Huffington Post

    How (Not) to Fake Your Own Death

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, How to Pull Off a Prank, Instructionals

    Bogus death for big bucks: 7 dumbest mistakes
    by Celia Seupel
    CNBC
    17 October 2013

    fakedeath-200For years, faking your own death has been an escape scheme of the desperate and a get-rich scam of the foolish. Some scammers hope to get rich quick on life insurance fraud; others try to escape the law when their other schemes go wrong. CNBC Prime’s “American Greed: The Fugitives” reports on one of the latter: Aubry Lee Price, a preacher turned day-trader, defrauded investors out of millions, then allegedly faked his own death by disappearing off a Key West ferry. Although Florida issued a death certificate, the FBI suspects that Price is still alive.

    But insurance companies have wised up, according to Dennis Jay, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. Not only do they investigate suspicious life insurance claims vigorously; they also find that it’s hard for people to stay off the grid year after year. Here are some of the dumbest ways that the bogus “dead” have resurfaced and gotten caught.

    1. Don’t use a corpse of the opposite sex

    Molly and Clayton Daniels faked Clayton’s death to keep him out of jail and to collect on his $110,000 life insurance policy. They dug up a corpse, dressed it in Clayton’s clothes, then burned it in a car crash. However, DNA testing revealed that the corpse was female.

    (more…)