Truth that’s Stranger than Fiction

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When Life Imitates Satire: Israeli Newspaper Spooked by The Onion’s Prescient Report

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Filed under: Satire, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

‘Netanyahu cheered up by US missile offer’: how the Onion scooped Haaretz
by Jessica Elgot
The Guardian
July 21, 2015

Satirical site's joke about the US offering missiles to the Israeli prime minister to appease him over the Iran nuclear deal turned out to be uncannily accurate

Binyamin Netanyahu‘US Soothes Upset Netanyahu With Shipment of Ballistic Missiles' sounds like a headline from the Onion. And it is – except that this time it's true. International media organisations have regularly been caught out by the satirical news site, fooled into thinking that Kim Jong-un really was voted the world's sexiest man, or that Americans would prefer a beer with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than Barack Obama.

But this time editors of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz were spooked by a story in the Onion from the previous day that matched what they had heard as fact.

Last week, the paper reported a senior US official as saying that Obama had spoken to the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, offering to "begin immediate talks about upgrading the Israel Defence Forces' offensive and defensive capabilities" after US negotiators reached a deal on Iran's nuclear programme, which was condemned by Israel. But the day before, the Onion had published a tongue-in-cheek piece announcing that the Israeli government would receive "a nice, big shipment of ballistic missiles" to help them come to terms with the Iran deal.

The piece included jokey quotes from a "State Department spokesperson", which said: "Bibi always gets a little cranky when he sees us talking to Iran, but a few dozen short-range surface-to-surface missiles usually cheer him right up ... At least we'll have a couple months of peace and quiet around here."

Life does not entirely imitate satire: Haaretz reported that the Israeli leader has said he would not accept the offer, because to do so would imply that the Iran deal had been tacitly accepted, though Israeli army radio on Monday quoted unnamed defence ministry officials as saying they would discuss compensation from the US.

Read the rest of this article here.

Danish Parliament’s Message: Vote or Else! [English & Danish]

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Filed under: Publicity Stunts, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

This cartoon was intended to encourage young people to vote in the European elections and was published on the Danish Parliament’s YouTube channel.


In it, a superhero called Voteman finds himself in bed with a group of women before jetting off on a pair of dolphin waterskis to punch and kick non-voters all the way to the polling station. The video was withdrawn the day after its launch after a barrage of criticism…

Watch the video:

Fiddle File #10

Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

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 #10

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:

Kentucky & Etc: Take it off? You got a gig serving burgers and fries. Now the restaurant manager is ordering you to submit to a strip-search. Here's the history of a very bizarre hoax, pulled time and again.

FaceBook: What makes you click? Here are some hoax headlines that have steered the curious into a marketing scam: Huge plane crashes into bridge? – Terrible roller coaster accident! – 99% Can’t Watch More Than 15 Seconds – Half Girl Half Snake! – Terrible accident with pencil! – HUGE pimple explodes – Shark eats living man! – Spider lives under skin!


FaceBook, email: Here's another example of the "What makes you click?" hoax. (more…)

Protestors Accused of Terrorism Hoax

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Glitter-Covered Banner Got These Protesters Arrested for Staging a Bioterror Hoax
by Molly Redden
Mother Jones
December 17, 2013

Energy giants have lobbied police to treat environmental activists like potential terrorists. Looks like it’s working.


It’s not uncommon for environmental protesters to face arrest, but here’s an apparent first: On Friday, Oklahoma City police charged a pair of environmental activists with staging a “terrorism hoax” after they unfurled a pair of banners covered in glitter-a substance local cops considered evidence of a faux biochemical assault.

Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson, members of the environmental group Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, were part of a group of about a dozen activists demonstrating at Devon Tower, the headquarters of fossil fuel giant Devon Energy. They activists were protesting the company’s use of fracking, its role in mining of Canada’s tar sands, and its ties to TransCanada, the energy company planning to construct the Keystone XL pipeline. As other activists blocked the building’s revolving door, Warner and Stephenson hung two banners-one a cranberry-colored sheet emblazoned with The Hunger Games “mockingjay” symbol and the words “The odds are never in our favor” in gold letters-from the second floor of the Devon Tower’s atrium.


‘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.


Watch the video:

For the full story visit

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.


  • Cockroaches, A Race Above, Joey Skaggs, 1981
  • Cockroaches could help combat MRSA and E.coli, The Telegraph, 2010
  • Fiddle File #2

    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    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 #2

    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-197Los Angeles: Quality medical care ... The surgeon pranks your face while you are under anesthesia.

    Tennessee: Children At Play… Torching neighborhood sewers.

    San Francisco Bay Area: Clear the house, we're from the government, inspecting for poisonous snakes (and stealing anything of value).

    Disney World: Pardon us, we're heading for the front of the line with our hire-the-handicapped helper.

    Nationwide: You’re due a bundle in unclaimed cash, just give us all your personal info. Story is from Vegas but the scam is running around the country.

    Colorado: It's the old jump screaming from the closet prank. Bang! You're d-e-a-d.

    St. Louis: Here's a tip ... You'll never see the whopping big tip the insanely generous customer scribbled on the bill.

    Nationwide: Wrap your car with ads while we empty your bank account. This report is from California but it's happening wherever the hustlers find a willing victim.

    Florida: Flush with cash? Don't invest in toilet fans.

    Spotted a hoax or scam deserving mention in our next roundup? We'd be happy to hear from you Art of the Prank. You might save some reader a heap of hurting (or give them wild ideas for their next fiddle).

    “Almighty God” Arrested Preparing for the End

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    Filed under: The Big One, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Almost 1,000 doomsday cult members arrested in China
    BBC News China
    December 20, 2012

    The BBC’s Damian Grammaticas says police are likely to detain suspected cult members for several days

    Police in China have carried out further arrests of members of a doomsday cult for spreading rumours about the imminent end of the world, state media say.

    Almost 1,000 members of Christian group Almighty God have now been detained.

    Read more here

    image: Huffington Post

    Egyptian Candid Camera Take 2: “You’ve Been Kidnapped”

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Submitted by Mike I: Another Egyptian magic moment… maybe a side effect of the Arab Spring?

    ‘You've been kidnapped': Egyptian TV show ‘terror pranks' celebrities
    By Dina Al-Shibeeb
    Al Arabiya
    29 July 2012

    An Egyptian show is taking entertainment to another level by duping celebrities into believing they have been abducted by terrorists.

    The show, "Ramz, the desert's fox" aired on Al-Hayat TV channel at the start of Ramadan, begins at Cairo's Terminal 2 airport where a tourist bus arrives to take the celebrity who is the target of the prank.

    Video from Jewish News One

    The unsuspecting celebrity believes that he or she is being transported on bus to participate in a program to be filmed at the tourist center, the Red Sea city of Ghardaka, to boost the country's dwindling tourism sector. (more…)

    Florida Family Association Brands April Fools’ Day Parade “Progressive Liberals”

    Filed under: Satire, The Big One, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    From Joey Skaggs: Based on the hate-mail I received, apparently because the Florida Family Association featured the April Fools’ Day Parade on their website, I expect to see the FFA protesting at the parade. If so, I’m sure the crowd will elect them hands-down winner as this year’s collective King of Fools. They seem to confuse satire with Satan.

    From the Florida Family Association:

    Liberal New York April Fools day parade to mock Florida Family Association for public opposition to TLC's All-American Muslim.

    The progressive liberals in New York have added Florida Family Association leader David Caton to a list of people to mock in their April Fools day parade because of the organization's public opposition to TLC's All-American Muslim.

    The PRNewswire reports in part:

    The 27th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade will begin at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street at 12 noon, Sunday, April 1, 2012. Rain or shine, the parade will march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park for the climactic selection of the King or Queen of Fools from the costumed marching look-alikes.

    The marching celebrity look-alikes will include M.I.A. and Adele flipping the bird; Rush Limbaugh yelling “You slut!”; Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wagging her finger; Sara Palin citing Paul Revere revisionist history; Florida Family Association leader David Caton protesting anything Muslim; Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour bound to his pardoned prisoners as he sings Sam Cook’s “Chain Gang.” Following the parade down to Washington Square Park will be a brigade of New York City’s Finest led by Officer Anthony Bologna, pepper spraying the crowd.

    Here’s a sampling of the hate mail:


    World’s Weirdest Restaurants

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    Filed under: Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Submitted by Peter Markus:

    The World’s Weirdest Restaurants
    by Justine Sterling
    Food & Wine
    January 28, 2012

    A380 In-Flight Kitchen; Taipei, Taiwan

    This Taipei spot replicates the in-flight experience with an interior designed to look like an airplane cabin with servers dressed like flight attendants who wheel around food and beverage carts.

    Fortezza Medicea Restaurant; Volterra, Italy

    In Italy, one of the toughest restaurants to get into is this oddly situated one, set inside a prison and staffed almost entirely by inmates (don’t worry, the cutlery is plastic). One reason for the waits of up to two months is that it’s hugely popular; the other is that every diner needs to be screened by Rome’s Ministry of Justice.


    Ya Can’t Shine Shit…

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    Filed under: Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Man who tried to turn his faeces into gold is jailed
    The Belfast Telegraph
    20 October 2011

    Judge said it was an interesting experiment but doomed to failure

    A Northern Ireland man who tried to turn his own faeces into gold by putting it on an electric heater has been jailed for three months.

    The bizarre experiment, carried out by Paul Moran, 30, caused around £3,000 worth of damage to his Housing Executive home in a block of flats at Derrin Park in Enniskillen in July.

    Upon his release he will spend a further 12 months on licence.

    Moran admitted arson and endangering the lives of others.

    His Honour Judge McFarland told him: "Rather bizarrely you were attempting to make gold from human faeces and waste products.

    "It was an interesting experiment to fulfil the alchemist's dream, but wasn't going to succeed."

    While outlining the circumstances of the case at Enniskillen Magistrates Court, prosecuting counsel Robin Steer, told those present that at 7.12pm on July 24 last year the Fire Brigade was called to Moran's flat at Derrin Park in Cornagrade, Enniskillen.

    A police officer who was at the scene overheard Moran tell someone he had put "fertiliser" on a heater. (more…)

    Hasidic Women in Brooklyn: Walk Right!

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    Filed under: Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Submitted by Peter Markus:

    Walk this way! Yiddish sign orders women to move over
    by Aaron Short
    The Brooklyn Paper
    October 7, 2011

    Why did the Orthodox Jewish woman cross the road? Because a Yiddish sign ordered her.

    A bold new religious decree was bolted to street trees this week that orders women to move to the side when a man is walking towards her on the sidewalk.

    The red, yellow and white plastic sign, first noted in the Jewish watchdog blog Failed Messiah, is roughly translated, "Precious Jewish daughters, please move over to the side when you see a man come across."

    Orthodox activists said the signs should not be taken seriously.

    "There are some hard-core Hasidim in Williamsburg who think they still live in 19th-century Ukraine and they consider interaction between the sexes, in even the most casual, accidental manner to be licentious," said bike shop owner Baruch Herzfeld. "They are enormous pains in the tuchis, and most people try to avoid conflict, so they often get their way."

    But Hasidic residents say that the sign is being misinterpreted. (more…)

    Walmart Music Critic Faces Misdemeanor Charges

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    Filed under: Creative Activism, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Local Man Arrested for Merchandise Tampering at Area Walmart
    by Trailer
    August 4, 2011

    Local country fan Reginald Spears was arrested over the weekend for merchandise tampering at the new Super Walmart out on the bypass. The details of his infractions are unique, to say the least.

    Third-shift electronics cashier Lena Johnston first noticed Spears rifling through the country CD section and filling a grocery cart with at least 100 discs before leaving the department. She thought he was just a rabid music fan until he returned 15 minutes later with the same cart and began slipping CDs back onto the shelves while looking around suspiciously.

    Johnston walked over to Spears and asked if he'd decided not to make the massive music purchase. Spears responded "Yeah, yeah uh, yes ma'am" and began sweating profusely. He became spooked shortly afterwards and haphazardly threw the remainder of his CDs on the shelf before walking away.

    Johnston investigated the country section and noticed that it was full of unwrapped, well-worn CDs that Spears had apparently brought from his home. Spears was apprehended by security, mostly without incident, before leaving the store.

    "I looked on the shelf and where Rascal Flatts was supposed to be, that scruffy looking man had put Flatt & Smugs or something like that... and where Taylor Swift had been, he'd replaced it with Tanya Tucker. I guess he'd stole all them new CDs and tried to replace ‘em with his old junk," said a perplexed Johnston. (more…)

    Beauty Tips for the Well Dressed Mujahid

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    Filed under: Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    Al-Qa’ida glossy advises women to cover up and marry a martyr
    By Julius Cavendish in Kabul
    The Independent
    14 March 2011

    Not content with launching an English-language magazine that debuted with a feature called “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom”, al Qa’ida’s media wing has followed up with a magazine for women, mixing beauty tips with lessons in jihad.

    The 31-page glossy, Al-Shamikha, which translates loosely as “The Majestic Woman”, features a niqab-clad woman posing with a sub-machine gun on its cover.

    Much like Elle or Cosmopolitan, it includes advice on finding the right man (“marrying a mujahideen”), how to achieve a perfect complexion (stay inside with your face covered), and provides tips on first aid and etiquette. (more…)