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

Mirage Men: Smoke, Mirrors & Government Disinformation

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Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Urban Legends

AOTP contributor John Lundberg’s movie Mirage Men, co-produced with Mark Pilkington, Roland Denning & Kypros Kyprianou, is now available for rent and on DVD. The book, Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs: The Weird Truth Behind UFOs, written by Mark Pilkington and published in 2010 by Constable, documents the making of the film.

Watch the trailer:

The Guardian in the UK covered the movie:

The real Men in Black, Hollywood and the great UFO cover-up

In a new documentary, US government agents claim they spent decades giving fake evidence of extraterrestrials to gullible ufologists. But why? And how can we trust them now?

Read the whole article here.


Purging The Purge

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Filed under: High School Pranks, Satire, Urban Legends

In the last two weeks, the Purge hoax has gone viral, causing alarm in numerous cities… again.

In July, 2014, after the premiere of The Purge 2 Anarchy (the sequel to The Purge, a sleeper hit movie in which for 12 hours all crime is legal without consequence), a humor website CreamBMP.com reported that “a group of teenagers re-enacting the plot of the film The Purge 2 in Chicago murdered over 112 people”. Read Chicago ‘Purge’ Murders on Snopes.com.

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Then last week, a Louisville high school student tweeted what he thought was a joke: “Whos (sic) trying to get a Louisville Purge Started With Me?” and all hell broke loose. See this article posted by the Crimson Student Press detailing the story: Teen responsible for “Purge” hoax speaks up.

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From there, both panic and humor have hit cities all over the country. See Additional Purge Warnings on Snopes.com.

(more…)

Swatting Ringleader Meets His Demise

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Phone Pranks, Pranksters

People do a lot of things with phones. Some are harmless and potentially amusing. Others can get you tossed in the slammer.

Photo by Eric Richardson

Swatting falls into the latter category. It involves providing an emergency service like 911 with a false tip that provokes an armed police raid on the home of an innocent (and likely terrified) person, be it a personal enemy, a celebrity, or just some guy. These hoaxes are a particular menace for the LAPD, since they happen so often to Hollywood stars.

On Tuesday, Jason Allen Neff pled guilty to running a ring of swatters in various locations. Neff, as it happens, has a long and storied career of hacking activities dating back to the ’90s. He awaits sentencing and faces five years in federal prison. The hostage faker seems poised to become a hostage of his own making.

photo: Eric Richardson, Creative Commons

World’s Fastest Sex Change

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic

Criss Angel BeLIEve: Criss Rips Bodies Apart (On Spike)

Criss Angel BeLIEve

Watch the video:

Bigfoot — Escape Artist

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Filed under: Urban Legends

While performing with the Tiny Top Circus during the Perform Chinatown: Chaos Reigns festival in LA on July 26, 2014, BIGFOOT once again escaped. The $10 million dollar reward, which had been rescinded when he returned from his sojourn in New York, has been reinstated. Everyone is warned to approach with caution, as BIGFOOT can be extremely flatulent.

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Watch the video:

Who Put the White Flags on the Brooklyn Bridge?

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Filed under: Urban Legends

Who raised white flags on Brooklyn Bridge — and why?
by Michael Winter
USA TODAY
July 22, 2014

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The New York Police Department had a big whodunit on its hands Tuesday, in addition to egg on its face.

Who swapped out two big American flags flying over the Brooklyn Bridge towers with Old Glories that had been bleached white? And, more important, why?

But a more pressing concern was how did the overnight caper happen right under the noses of the NYPD on one of the city’s most heavily guarded and constantly watched landmarks?

“We’re lucky they just put a flag up there — and not a bomb,” a law enforcement source told the New York Post. “It’s an embarrassment.”

Read more here.

Tiny Top Circus & BIGFOOT to Appear in LA

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Filed under: Urban Legends

From Joey Skaggs and the Tiny Top Circus, the world’s only pataphysical circus:


Two weeks ago, BIGFOOT mysteriously returned to the circus compound after escaping from the Tiny Top Circus while performing in New York City. The $10 million dollar reward has now been rescinded. Tiny Top Circus thanks New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Police for their outstanding assistance.

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Tiny Top Circus will now resume its touring schedule with an appearance at Perform Chinatown in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Admission is free.

Perform Chinatown 2014 – Chaos Reigns!
July 26, 2014, between 12 Noon and 10 pm
Next to the historic Wishing Well in Gin Ling Way
Chinatown, Los Angeles, CA

For more details, press release and posters, visit http://tinytopcircus.com

Bigfoot Sighted at World Cup Celebration

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Filed under: Urban Legends

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photo: AP/ibnlive.in.com

Another Bigfoot Sighting!

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Filed under: Urban Legends

Bigfoot was spotted but not captured at a 4th of July celebration yesterday:

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Bigfoot Sighting!

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Filed under: Urban Legends

Bigfoot spotted at New York’s annual Gay Pride Parade, June 29, 2014:

Bigfoot spotted at NYC Gay Pride Parade

Thanks Nick Gaetano
photo: hulubei.net

The Bigfoot Movie

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Filed under: Urban Legends

Watch the movie:

Tiny Top Circus Cast & Crew: Proprietor & Ringmaster: Joey Skaggs; Barker: Sarah Farrell; Performers: BIGFOOT, Justin Blaser, a.k.a. Stitch the Geek, Ian Harvey, a.k.a. Trick, the Bastard; Army Special Forces: Tom Tenney, Felipe Ribeiro; Clowns: Rev Jen Miller; Joe Heaps Nelson; Marc Slanger; Miranda Torn; Strongman: Andrew Carr; Sign Carriers: Matt Lucas, Bobby Savage, Norman Savage; Himalayas Band: Welf Dorr, Matthew Fass, Nina Geiger, Jennifer Harris, Sandra Koponen, Jocelyn Selene Perry, Robyn Siwula, Kenny Wollesen

Production: Producer & Still Photographer: Judy Drosd; Cinematography & Editing: Kate McCamy; Additional Camera: Tony Torn; Music & Sound Effects: Colby Johnson; Cage & Costume construction: Ivy Drechney, Troy Suite; Graphics & Signage: Paula Sharpe

Special Thanks: Tony Barsha, Katryn Beckwith, Doris Deither, Iliya Fridman, Akim Fridman, Francis “Faceboy” Hall, Dr. Larry Herbert , Albert Kahn, Valentina Kvasova, Jim Monroe, Naomi Pitcairn, Libby Reed, Erin Rogers, Dorothy Skaggs, Jon Truskey, Nancy Weber, Henry Zemel

Bigfoot has Escaped and is Loose Somewhere in NYC. Search Continues.

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

While on an international tour as the principal attraction of the Tiny Top Circus, Bigfoot escaped from his cage in New York City.

bigfoot-sightings

Watch the video:

Authorities are searching and citizens are on alert.
WARNING: BIGFOOT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS
Mayor Bill de Blasio says an ongoing investigation is underway.

Bigfoot sightings

Tiny Top Circus has posted a $10 million dollar reward for the safe return of Bigfoot. With sightings, or for more information, contact Ringmaster, Peppe Scaggolini at info @ tinytopcircus.com


Bigfoot Captured!

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, You Decide

Bigfoot, the 8th Wonder of the World

The most elusive and terrifying creature to roam the planet, captured alive!

On display for a limited time only. Brought to you by Tiny Top Circus, the world’s greatest and smallest traveling show on Earth. The only pataphysical circus in existence.

Saturday, June 7, 2014
12:00 Noon
Washington Square Park
New York, New York

FREE

Tiny Top Circus Banner
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For more info, contact: Ringmaster, Peppe Scaggolini, info @ tinytopcircus.com.

Political Hacktivism, Iran Style

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges

Iran Is Using a Neocon to Hack Its Foes
Daily Beast
by Eli Lake
May 29, 2014

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.

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In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.”

No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names.

Read more here.

The Royal Prank: Unintended Consequences

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Filed under: Legal Issues, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, You Decide

The Royal Prank: The Story Behind The Worst Radio Stunt In History
by Andrew McMillen
Buzzfeed
Aug. 1, 2013

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When a pair of Australian DJs went viral by prank calling the London hospital treating Kate Middleton last December, they were lionized at home and vilified in the U.K. Then the nurse who answered the phone committed suicide amid the outrage, raising questions about mental health, privacy, and the very definition of a joke. What responsibility do pranksters have to their victims?