Category Archive 'Hoaxes'
19 Feb 2018

What’s Happened to Pryam Farll?

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He used to call himself “Arcangelo Corelli,” but Facebook started hassling him for using a pseudonym, so he changed over to “Pryam Farll.” Facebook evidently was satisfied at the time. Maybe he had ID.

Pryam claimed to be an Old Etonian, an American related to a variety of European royal houses (Britain, Norway, the Netherlands), to have graduated from the University of Colorado, to being a Lieutenant-General in the Marine Corps working in Intelligence, to being very rich, to reading Vladimir Putin’s mail regularly in his professional capacity, to having purchased recently a 17th Century townhouse in Talinn, Estonia and furnishing it with expensive antiques, to have stocked a wine cellar and hired a personal chef. He also claims to be 6′ 5″ tall, irresistible to the ladies, and 67 years old.

Pryam’s more sophisticated FB friends assumed his persona was an elaborate spoof, but found him amusing and entertaining. Pryam used to post profusely and daily on Facebook, taking colorful and reactionary positions, defending Christianity, and predicting WWIII imminently. He disappeared without explanation in late January and has been missing since.

Facebook jail? Assassination by Putin? Health problems or a personal crisis? No one knows.

But people are beginning to ask, on FB here, and in a major posting here by “Ragnar Musashi.”

In my travels through social media, I may have—by complete accident—stumbled upon one of the greatest cases of Stolen Valor I’ve ever seen. I found this guy in the comment threads of a fairly prominent history professor and author, making some rather outlandish claims about not just himself but the geopolitical landscape as a whole.

“Pryam Farll,” the name he uses (he used to go by “Arcangelo”), claims to have the highest of high security clearances and, get this, is a Lieutenant General (who is getting his third star just before retirement) in the United States Marine Corps. His Facebook posts are usually from “NATO HQ” in Brussels and filled with talks of simulated wargames with Russia because, true story, World War III is just around the corner.

Sounds obviously fake, right? So why even bother to write this up?

Two reasons:

One, the guy isn’t stupid. I have seen enough of his writings to realize he’s a sharp dude who has fairly extensive knowledge of the military. This leads me to question whether or not he’s actually in uniform and maybe an assistant to a real General Officer—something that could cause some major issues (more on this at the end, as it goes back to the title of the article).

Two, making this information public allows the magic of crowd-sourcing to happen. Someone in the military community may realize who this is and uncover a bigger problem (also more on this at the end).

So let’s go through his most repeated claims and what my research has shown, then I’ll offer a conclusion as to why this is important.

Claims:

-to be a 2 star general officer in the Marine Corps who personally knows GEN James Mattis “like a brother” (and served with Mattis in Vietnam—despite my inability to find record of GEN Mattis serving in Vietnam).

-to speak and read several languages at a high level of fluency (to include Russian).

-to read the emails of high-level Russian officials (including Putin).

-to regularly hang out with the King of Belgium, Pope Emeritus Benedict (Cardinal Ratzinger), and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

-to have multiple PhDs (plus is a graduate of seminary).

-to be 6’ 5” tall, an undergraduate of University of Colorado, and is currently 65 years old (as of 30 December 2016).

All of these are “facts” (among others) that he has dropped during numerous conversations on social media while continuing his largest claims that World War III is just around the corner—something he says he knows because he regularly reads the emails of Russian officials—and that it will involve collusion between Russians and Chinese forces. In a comment thread he mentioned that China was one of the top issues facing the United States. When asked why, he responded, “Because they’ve decided with Russia on WW3…. which is why Mattis got this job [of SECDEF]. I read their mail. Every day.”

When asked why he was saying this on Facebook and whether or not it was classified, he responded by saying that “it isn’t classified to say it’s classified.”

RTWT

20 May 2017

Another Successful Social Science Paper Spoof

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Twenty-one years ago, Alan Sokal’s “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity“ proved that you could get a paper employing total gibberish to contend that gravity is a social construct published in a prominent social science journal.

A couple of philosophers using non-de-plumes just performed the same experiment successfully again, demonstrating that you need only cloak the most ridiculous nonsense with a bunch of post-structuralist jargon and your paper will be accepted by a prominent British social sciences journal.

Here are some sample passages from this peer-reviewed paper:

Still, even as a social construct, the conceptual penis is hopelessly dominated by recalcitrant social constructions that favor hypermasculine interpretations of the penis as a notion unjustly associated with high male value (Schwalbe & Wolkomir, 2001). Many cisgendered hypermasculine males, for instance, seem to identify those aspects of their masculinity upon which they most obviously depend with the notion that they carry their penis as a symbol of male power, domination, control, capability, desirability, and aggression (The National Coalition for Men “compile[d] a list of synonyms for the word penis [sic],” these include the terms “beaver basher,” “cranny axe,” “custard launcher,” “dagger,” “heat-seeking moisture missile,” “mayo shooting hotdog gun,” “pork sword,” and “yogurt shotgun” [2011]). Based upon an appreciable corpus of feminist literature on the penis, this troubling identification results in an effective isomorphism linking the conceptual penis with toxic hypermasculinity. …

Nowhere more does this problematic construction compare than with the “hegemonic masculinity and cultural construction” presented in the “essence of the hard-on” (Potts, 2000). Potts (2000) illustrates that the functioning (or lack thereof) of the [conceptual] penis “demonstrates the inscription on individual male bodies of a coital imperative: the surface of the male body interfuses with culture to produce the ‘fiction’ of a dysfunctional nonpenetrative male (hetero)sexuality.” This is clear power-dynamical repositioning to alleviate the internal psychological struggle of weakness via hypermasculinity and an essential fear of weakness that characterizes hypermasculinity itself. We therefore further agree with Potts that “by relinquishing the penis’s executive position in sex, male bodies might become differently inscribed, and coded for diverse pleasures beyond the phallus/penis,” and we insist that understanding the objective isomorphic mapping between phallus and (conceptual) penis is a necessary discursive element to changing the prevailing penile social paradigm. The constructed intersection of the anatomical penis and the performative conceptual penis defines the problematic relationship masculinity presents for male bodies and their impacts upon women in our pre-post-patriarchal societies. …

2.2. Climate change and the conceptual penis

Nowhere are the consequences of hypermasculine machismo braggadocio isomorphic identification with the conceptual penis more problematic than concerning the issue of climate change. Climate change is driven by nothing more than it is by certain damaging themes in hypermasculinity that can be best understood via the dominant rapacious approach to climate ecology identifiable with the conceptual penis. Our planet is rapidly approaching the much-warned-about 2°C climate change threshold, and due to patriarchal power dynamics that maintain present capitalist structures, especially with regard to the fossil fuel industry, the connection between hypermasculine dominance of scientific, political, and economic discourses and the irreparable damage to our ecosystem is made clear.

Destructive, unsustainable hegemonically male approaches to pressing environmental policy and action are the predictable results of a raping of nature by a male-dominated mindset. This mindset is best captured by recognizing the role of the conceptual penis holds over masculine psychology. When it is applied to our natural environment, especially virgin environments that can be cheaply despoiled for their material resources and left dilapidated and diminished when our patriarchal approaches to economic gain have stolen their inherent worth, the extrapolation of the rape culture inherent in the conceptual penis becomes clear. At best, climate change is genuinely an example of hyper-patriarchal society metaphorically manspreading into the global ecosystem.

RTWT

27 Sep 2014

‘Invisible Art’ Story Only Satire

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NewstromBosh
“Art enthusiasts admire Newstrom’s paintings and sculptures at the Schulberg Gallery in New York.”

The wags at CBC.Canada photoshopped a stock image and wrote up an amusing news story satirizing modern art.

27-year-old artist Lana Newstrom says she is the first artist in the world to create invisible “art.” In this documentary we traveled to her empty studio to learn more about Lana and her unusual artistic process.

“Art is about imagination and that is what my work demands of the people interacting with it. You have to imagine a painting or sculpture is in front of you,” says Newstrom.

Paul Rooney, Lana’s agent, believes she might be the greatest artist alive working today: “When she describes what you can’t see, you begin to realize why one of her invisible works can fetch upwards of a million dollars.” said Rooney.

Listen to learn more about Lana Newstrom and her invisible art.

6:53 audio

The story was just a little too good to be true, and I made a point of searching for the “Schulberg Gallery” and other confirmatory material before swallowing this one whole.

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They did fool a number of bloggers though.

Moonbattery: “Lana Newstrom’s Invisible Art”

Tea Party News Network: “The Sheer Stupidity of Useful Idiots on Full Display; Looks Like the ‘Intellectuals’ Aren’t So Smart”

Barstool Sports: “NYC Artist Selling ‘Invisible Art’ For Millions”

Even Richard Fernandez (who is a very smart guy) bit: “The Unseen”

Unfortunately, the spoof story was only too plausible in today’s cultural climate.

29 Nov 2013

“Python Eats Drunk Man” Photo Hoax

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Intriguing picture, currently on Push the Movement, but it has apparently been circulating on the Internet for a couple of years with a variety of attributed locations, so the “drunk man” part and the “India” part are almost certainly not true.

Urban Legends:

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.

All of the above can’t be simultaneously true, obviously. The photo, which I’ve not yet been able to trace to a definitive source, has been circulating online for at least two years and more likely than not documents a python digesting a goat or a deer.

09 Feb 2012

Living Mammoth Filmed in Siberia?

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Two centuries and a bit ago, Thomas Jefferson entertained hopes that explorers might yet encounter Woolly Mammoths trumpeting in the remote Western wilderness.

Frozen Mammoth remains found in Siberia have been fresh enough to be served up as a delicacy at Explorers’ Club banquets.

Now, a British tabloid, The Sun, offers a video, allegedly made last summer somewhere in Siberia, purportedly showing a living Woolly Mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius, crossing a river.

(the embed script is not editable for size, but it doesn’t seem to matter crucially)


Cryptomundo
had the same thought I did. The tusks look more like a large salmon hanging from the mouth of a very large bear.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

08 May 2011

Petite Lap Giraffes

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Petite Lap Giraffe

I missed the best April Fool’s Day prank of 2011. It was the appearance of the Sokoblovsky Petite Lap Giraffe web-site, complete with Giraffe Cam.

The alleged Petite Lap Giraffe breeder operation, tracing its history back to Czarist times, was praised by Ad Week as:

a great example of taking an awesome random detail from a TV campaign and running with it online. The site, concepted and built by Grey (with The Mill in New York handling special effects), offers lots of great tips on owning a tiny giraffe. “PLG’s love being indoors in filtered air conditioning. If they can listen to music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov it is dream,” notes the copy, which is all humorously written in broken English. And look, they’re tidy: “PLG’s are very clean. With training they will go in box like cats. Allergies never a problem.” Well, I’m sold. Too bad I’m No. 14,870 on the waiting list, with an expected delivery date 21,000 years in the future.

The ads behind all this were the “Gregor the Russian billionaire” commercials (see below).

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11 Aug 2010

Pretty Girl Quits Job With Flair

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The viral amusement item of the day is this dry erase board photo presentation by a cute young thing allegedly composed and sent to co-workers on the occasion of her quitting her job.

If the story really is on the up-and-up, I would guess that it will quickly attract new job offers. I have my doubts though. She is too pretty, and the storyline is too pat.

From the Chive.

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UPDATE, a few minutes later.

As predicted, it was a hoax. These perfect little gems that completely fit our expectations always are.

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Another UPDATE, a few more minutes later.

But, wait! Prankster brother tells Media Memo, No, no, “Jenny’s very real.” An update is promised for tomorrow. “Jenny” may be appearing on Jay Leno and Good Morning, America.

25 Jul 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

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Texas ranches invasion story is a hoax. (Confederate Yankee).

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Get your free Rod Blagojevich ringtone.

Top favorites:

“I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden.”

“I’m stuck in this (expletive) job as governor now.”

“Only thirteen percent of you all out there think I’m doing a good job. So (expletive) all of you.”

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Unmarried ladies with attitude: Jane Austen’s Fight Club 3:22 video

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

24 Jul 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

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“End of History” beer made in a limited edition of twelve bottles was the world’s strongest beer (55 proof), came in taxidermy mounts of road-killed animals (four squirrels, seven weasels and a hare), cost $765 a bottle, and sold out immediately upon release by the Scottish BrewDog Brewery. (MSNBC)

BrewDog Blog article

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Budget cuts force British government to close top secret sea-side resort village operated since 1967. (The Onion)

In light of the current economic downturn, it is unwise to maintain this secret locale any longer,” said a man identified only as Number Two, referring to the bucolic village whose sole aim appeared to be the recovery of desirable information from former intelligence agents. “Plus, the cost of maintaining human chessboards, outdated penny- farthings, and our state-of-the-art escapee- retrieval sphere just proved too much. We would have closed this whole place down years ago had it not been for one particularly uncooperative resident.”

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

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“Robin Sage”

Robin Sage is the name of a 19 day Special Forces problem-solving field training exercise, conducted four times a year, in which students train and lead a guerrilla force in an imaginary hostile country known as “Pineland.”

Tom Ryan of Provide Security recently conducted his own Robin Sage tactical field exercise on the Internet. He created fake Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles under the alias, “Robin Sage,” accompanied by a photograph of a cute girl (borrowed from an adult website). Robin Sage claimed to be a 24-year-old MIT graduate, employed by Naval Network Warfare Command as a “Cyber Threat Analyst.”

“Robin” quickly established social network connections with more than 300 professionals in the National Security Agency, DoD, and Global 500 corporations.

Robin received employment approaches from Google and Lockheed Martin, and Robin’s new friends in the Intelligence Community shared information with her that violated military operational security and personal security restrictions.

ComputerWorld interview

14 Dec 2009

Latest Bigfoot Hoax Photos

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Another really bad game camera photo accompanied by an unpersuasive narrative of skepticism and reluctant public release. This time from Minnesota, a long, long way from the original theoretical range of the imaginary North American elusive and unknown large primate.

I don’t think it requires any apparatus more complicated than the eye to recognize the posture of a man underneath what is obviously a suit.

Bemidji Pioneer:

Tim Kedrowski and his sons, Peter and Casey, say they aren’t pushovers for Bigfoot stories. But a frame on a game trail camera set up on their hunting land north of Remer, Minn. has left them wondering.

“To us, it’s very hard because we lean toward the skeptical type,” Kedrowski said in a telephone interview from his Rice, Minn., home.

But after checking with neighbors and any other hunters who might have been walking through the dense woods at 7:20 p.m. on the rainy night of Oct. 24, he said they couldn’t imagine what else the image could be. Tim said he considered ideas from a bear to a bow hunter in a fuzzy suit. But the arm and hand couldn’t be a bear’s, or its upright gait. And there is no evidence in the photo of a bow or flashlight a hunter might be using to track a wounded deer. …

Casey Kedrowski said he and his brother had gone out to the family’s hunting shack prior to deer season to bring in firewood and make other preparations. They set up a game trail camera to see what might be wandering around their property.

Casey said he and his brother were the only people who knew where the camera was located. They took the camera down when deer season started, and a couple of weeks later checked on what they had caught.

When they came to the picture of the long-armed creature walking upright, Casey said, “We just looked at each other. Each of us thought we were playing a trick on each other.”

When they determined that neither of them had pulled a prank on the other, they checked to see if anyone had been in the area that night. Tim said the only neighbors were two elderly hunters in their own shack, neither of whom matched the size and appearance of the creature caught on camera.

However, he said, when he asked the men about the night the camera clicked on the mystery, they said they had gone out about 2 a.m. to use the outhouse and had heard strange squealing noises. Tim said he asked them to show him the direction of the sounds. They pointed to the area where the camera had been, although they had no idea of its location.

Tim said he just released the photo and permission for its publication last weekend.

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Examiner.com thinks the same way I do.

The photo itself is unconvincing and displays many of the attributes associated with previous “man in an ape suit” photos and YouTube videos. Note the lack of articulation on the back of the legs where the thigh meets the knee and continues to the calf. The “fur” has the draped appearance of a pant leg – not the musculature of a wild animal. The hands have the rubbery look of an ape from a 1930s Bela Lugosi B-movie. Notably, the face of the “creature” is blocked by a small tree, conveniently obscuring any facial details, the most difficult part of a costume to fake effectively.

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Cryptomundo’s posting.

Hat tip to Good Morning, Silicon Valley.

14 Nov 2009

Giant Snake Story

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Cropped and enlarged “Boa” photo

Despite the “internet sensation” claim, Ananova is really the only news source on this one.

A photograph purporting to show a 55ft snake found in a forest in China has become an internet sensation.

It was originally posted in a thread on the website of the People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper in China.

The thread claimed the snake was one of two enormous boas found by workers clearing forest for a new road outside Guping city, Jiangxi province.

They apparently woke up the sleeping snakes during attempts to bulldoze a huge mound of earth.

“On the third dig, the operator found there was blood amongst the soil, and with a further dig, a dying snake appeared,” said the post.

“At the same time, another gold coloured giant boa appeared with its mouth wide open. The driver was paralysed with fear, while the other workers ran for their lives.

“By the time the workers came back, the wounded boa had died, while the other snake had disappeared. The bulldozer operator was so sick that he couldn’t even stand up.”

The post claimed that the digger driver was so traumatised that he suffered a heart attack on his way to hospital and later died.

The dead snake was 55ft (16.7m) long, weighed 300kg and was estimated to be 140 years old, according to the post.

However, local government officials in Guiping say the story and photograph are almost certainly a hoax as giant boas are not native to the area.

Anannova seems to have gotten the story from QuirkyChina, which claims to be quoting the People’s Daily for November 11th, but no such story turn up in a search of the English language edition of the paper’s web-site.

The use of the term “boa” is obviously inaccurate. Boa constrictors are native to the New World. The visible markings on the snake’s back, I think, identify it clearly enough as a reticulated python. And Chinese English news reports do clearly routinely refer to pythons (native to Asia) as “boas.”

This 40 k. (88 lbs.), 4 m. (13′) long reticulated python found by Yunnan villagers in this October 22, 2006 story is referred to as a “giant boa.”

There is a problem with range. Guping is a bit north of the generally described range of Python reticulatus.


Wikipedia estimated range of Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus)


Jiangxi Province, China

And there is a problem with the size. The photograph is obviously calculated to mislead. The snake is hanging from the bucket in the extreme foreground in an effort to induce viewers to take the people and cab behind as an indication of scale. If someone could identify the model of the backhoe, and could determine the actual size of the digging bucket, it would be pretty easy to come up with a more accurate estimate of the actual size of the snake.

Estimates of how large reticulated pythons can grow vary. Wikipedia says “more than 28 feet (8.7 m),” quoting Murphy/Henderson (1997). Wall (1926) proposes 30′ (9.14 m.). Oliver (1958) goes all the way up to 33′ (10.06 m.).

Yet, there is a news agency account, dated January 8, 2004, describing the capture in Indonesia of a nearly 49 foot (14.9 m.), 990 pound (450 k.) monster reticulated python, complete with 0:33 video.

20 Aug 2008

Bigfoot Story Confirmed as Hoax

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Surprise, surprise.

Last week’s story of the discovery of a deceased Sasquatch in northern Georgia has been debunked. When the block of ice enclosing the alleged body was melted, a rubber Bigfoot suit emerged. California Bigfoot “researchers” claimed they had been deceived and were disappointed. George’s Clayton County Police said they were going to fire the police officer involved.

An unnamed news agency reports.

You can buy your identical Sasquatch suit.

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Original story.

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