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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

NO FOOLIN': Our picks for the Top 10 science

By Peter McMahon


In the interest of digging up the most famous debunked hoaxes in science and discovery - no Mars microbe (not faked but not confirmed as true or false), Shroud of Turin (how true or how false), alien corpse at Area 51 (unprovable speculation on what's really there) or whether or not the United States landed on the Moon (as for this last one, we're pretty sure that happened)...

...Here now are our picks for the 10 greatest shams of science, discovery, and technology of all time, no joke!



#10 Stone-Age tribe found living in the present day


Status: Fake


Ferdinand Marcos's Cultural Minister claimed to have found a tribe of primitive cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers called the Tasaday.

Living in a Philippine rain forest, the people were reported to be using crude stone tools and unchanged from the early age of humans.

With only limited access to the Tasaday until 1986, the overthrowing of Marcos allowed visitors to see the Tasaday firsthand: wearing contemporary clothing, using modern implements, and no longer living in caves. The people claimed that they had been paid by the government to act more "primitive."




#9 Potato web server


Status: A hoax, with the possibility to work in real-life


This story duped numerous science sites - including this one - when online pranksters posted pictures in 1998 of what looked like a web server powered by the acid in common potatoes.

Science fair hopefuls have used off-the shelf experiment-based clocks for years that feature liquid crystal displays powered by the acid in many kinds of fruit and veggies. But powering something with the power demands of a web server-level computer (even the pranksters admitted) is impossible with just a few potatoes.

Interestingly enough, experts have since calculated that such a server could be powered by spuds. Depending on the computer, it would require between 100 potatoes and 450 tones of spuds. (more...)




#8 The Iguanodon as a crawling horned dinosaur


Status: Not quite true, not totally false


One of the earliest dinosaur finds, Iguanodon was originally discovered in 1822 by English geologist Gideon Mantell.

Originally reconstructed as a horned bear-like lizard that lumbered along on all fours, wealthy patrons famously dined inside a full-sized likeness of this dinosaur, with its back hollowed out for table and chairs.

The "horn" is now thought to be a thumb spike - one of the most well-known features of Iguanodon. It was also later discovered that the animal often stood on two legs, like later duck-billed dinosaurs.




#7 Blondes will be extinct in 200 years


Statue: False (Thank goodness)


A recent Sunday Times article about the origins of blonde hair stated: "A study by the World Health Organization found that natural blonds are likely to be extinct within 200 years because there are too few people carrying the blond gene. According to the WHO study, the last natural blond is likely to be born in Finland during 2202."

According to urban-myth-busting site snopes.com: "Most scientists asked to comment on the faux study in recent years have opined that although the proportion of blondes in the population might decrease a bit in coming years, it likely won't drop to nothing any time in the foreseeable future."




#6 Crop circles (at least some of them)


Status: Some directly proven to be false, most in doubt


Most popular for their appearances overnight during the 1970s in fields in Southern England. But they're now found from time to time all over the world.

Right up there with Easter Island, Stonehenge, and the Nazca Lines, these mysteries may have been more-or-less explained these days.

In 1991, a pair of crop circle hoaxers confessed their deeds and showed the media how they pulled-off their hoaxes, from simply traipsing down dry crops to methods that required a great deal more planning and implementation manpower.





#5 Archaeoraptor (a definitive missing link between dinos and birds) debunked


Status: Inaccurate


A National Geographic article 'Feathers for T. Rex?' attracted heavy criticism from evolutionists for suggesting the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Though a largely-held belief, the article was scorned for sensationalizing an angle that had little factual basis.

The article illustrated a baby T rex with feathers, before talking about a feathered 'Archaeoraptor' version of the well-known bird-dinosaur Archaeopteryx.

A Chinese scientist who had at first helped identify the fossil eventually blew the whistle on it, announcing that he had found a second fossil containing a mirror-image duplicate of the Archaeoraptor's tail...attached to a different type of body.




#4 James Ossuary (a.k.a. the "Jesus box")


Status: How many boxes can one brother of Jesus exist in?


"Collector" Oded Golan premiered this sepulchral, limestone box containing bones in Israel in 2002. An inscription in the box read "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus".


After a brief display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the box was revealed to be a fake. In a search of Golan's dwelling in Israel, other fake artifacts and tools for creating more were found. It is rumoured that a partially finished copy was found sitting on Golan's toilet.

Golan himself confessed the locations of several other fakes under interrogation by local authorities.




#3 Mars as big as the Moon


Status: False, False, false, false


Every time Mars makes its bi-yearly close approach to Earth, this seemingly aimless piece of bad astronomy makes its way into people's Inboxes.

The original e-mail came when Mars was slightly closer in 2003 - more so than it would be for another 60,000 years.

Despite our record proximity to the Red Planet, this closeness simply rendered Mars a brighter-than-usual red "star" in the night sky, and not the visible Moon-sized globe of Martian features that the e-mail claimed would appear.




#2 Piltdown man


Status: False


From 1908 to 1915 in Piltdown, England, Charles Dawson claimed to have discovered the fossil remains (skulls, teeth, jawbone) of what was referred to as the missing link between humans and apes.

But in 1953, modern testing revealed the whole thing to be a hoax: The "hundreds of thousands of years-old" skulls were revealed to be only a few hundred years old. "Piltdown Man" - as he was called, was a Franken-collection of animal parts from around the world (an orangutan jawbone, elephant and hippopotamus teeth, and more.)




#1 The Raelians and Clonaid
Status: Completely false, unless a cloned kid really is just being held back somewhere from the 'media spotlight'


In December 2002, Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clonaid, claimed her company had cloned a human.

Linked with the UFO-worshiping Raelian sect, the following's founder, Rael (left), claims that extraterrestrials created humanity and support cloning.

After more than a year of harsh criticism of the sect and Clonaid, a lawyer attempting to appoint the alleged cloned girl "Eve" a guardian, gave up, denouncing the original announcement as "a sham."

A Korean stem cell researcher was later disgraced in 2006 when he revealed that the 11 human embryos he claimed to have cloned and extracted stem cells from didn't even exist.

In the interest of digging up the most famous debunked hoaxes in science and discovery - no Mars microbe (not faked but not confirmed as true or false), Shroud of Turin (how true or how false), alien corpse at Area 51 (unprovable speculation on what's really there) or whether or not the United States landed on the Moon (as for this last one, we're pretty sure that happened)...

...Here now are our picks for the 10 greatest shams of science, discovery, and technology of all time, no joke!



#10 Stone-Age tribe found living in the present day


Status: Fake


Ferdinand Marcos's Cultural Minister claimed to have found a tribe of primitive cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers called the Tasaday.

Living in a Philippine rain forest, the people were reported to be using crude stone tools and unchanged from the early age of humans.

With only limited access to the Tasaday until 1986, the overthrowing of Marcos allowed visitors to see the Tasaday firsthand: wearing contemporary clothing, using modern implements, and no longer living in caves. The people claimed that they had been paid by the government to act more "primitive."




#9 Potato web server


Status: A hoax, with the possibility to work in real-life


This story duped numerous science sites - including this one - when online pranksters posted pictures in 1998 of what looked like a web server powered by the acid in common potatoes.

Science fair hopefuls have used off-the shelf experiment-based clocks for years that feature liquid crystal displays powered by the acid in many kinds of fruit and veggies. But powering something with the power demands of a web server-level computer (even the pranksters admitted) is impossible with just a few potatoes.

Interestingly enough, experts have since calculated that such a server could be powered by spuds. Depending on the computer, it would require between 100 potatoes and 450 tones of spuds. (more...)




#8 The Iguanodon as a crawling horned dinosaur


Status: Not quite true, not totally false


One of the earliest dinosaur finds, Iguanodon was originally discovered in 1822 by English geologist Gideon Mantell.

Originally reconstructed as a horned bear-like lizard that lumbered along on all fours, wealthy patrons famously dined inside a full-sized likeness of this dinosaur, with its back hollowed out for table and chairs.

The "horn" is now thought to be a thumb spike - one of the most well-known features of Iguanodon. It was also later discovered that the animal often stood on two legs, like later duck-billed dinosaurs.




#7 Blondes will be extinct in 200 years


Statue: False (Thank goodness)


A recent Sunday Times article about the origins of blonde hair stated: "A study by the World Health Organization found that natural blonds are likely to be extinct within 200 years because there are too few people carrying the blond gene. According to the WHO study, the last natural blond is likely to be born in Finland during 2202."

According to urban-myth-busting site snopes.com: "Most scientists asked to comment on the faux study in recent years have opined that although the proportion of blondes in the population might decrease a bit in coming years, it likely won't drop to nothing any time in the foreseeable future."




#6 Crop circles (at least some of them)


Status: Some directly proven to be false, most in doubt


Most popular for their appearances overnight during the 1970s in fields in Southern England. But they're now found from time to time all over the world.

Right up there with Easter Island, Stonehenge, and the Nazca Lines, these mysteries may have been more-or-less explained these days.

In 1991, a pair of crop circle hoaxers confessed their deeds and showed the media how they pulled-off their hoaxes, from simply traipsing down dry crops to methods that required a great deal more planning and implementation manpower.





#5 Archaeoraptor (a definitive missing link between dinos and birds) debunked


Status: Inaccurate


A National Geographic article 'Feathers for T. Rex?' attracted heavy criticism from evolutionists for suggesting the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Though a largely-held belief, the article was scorned for sensationalizing an angle that had little factual basis.

The article illustrated a baby T rex with feathers, before talking about a feathered 'Archaeoraptor' version of the well-known bird-dinosaur Archaeopteryx.

A Chinese scientist who had at first helped identify the fossil eventually blew the whistle on it, announcing that he had found a second fossil containing a mirror-image duplicate of the Archaeoraptor's tail...attached to a different type of body.




#4 James Ossuary (a.k.a. the "Jesus box")


Status: How many boxes can one brother of Jesus exist in?


"Collector" Oded Golan premiered this sepulchral, limestone box containing bones in Israel in 2002. An inscription in the box read "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus".


After a brief display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the box was revealed to be a fake. In a search of Golan's dwelling in Israel, other fake artifacts and tools for creating more were found. It is rumoured that a partially finished copy was found sitting on Golan's toilet.

Golan himself confessed the locations of several other fakes under interrogation by local authorities.




#3 Mars as big as the Moon


Status: False, False, false, false


Every time Mars makes its bi-yearly close approach to Earth, this seemingly aimless piece of bad astronomy makes its way into people's Inboxes.

The original e-mail came when Mars was slightly closer in 2003 - more so than it would be for another 60,000 years.

Despite our record proximity to the Red Planet, this closeness simply rendered Mars a brighter-than-usual red "star" in the night sky, and not the visible Moon-sized globe of Martian features that the e-mail claimed would appear.




#2 Piltdown man


Status: False


From 1908 to 1915 in Piltdown, England, Charles Dawson claimed to have discovered the fossil remains (skulls, teeth, jawbone) of what was referred to as the missing link between humans and apes.

But in 1953, modern testing revealed the whole thing to be a hoax: The "hundreds of thousands of years-old" skulls were revealed to be only a few hundred years old. "Piltdown Man" - as he was called, was a Franken-collection of animal parts from around the world (an orangutan jawbone, elephant and hippopotamus teeth, and more.)




#1 The Raelians and Clonaid
Status: Completely false, unless a cloned kid really is just being held back somewhere from the 'media spotlight'


In December 2002, Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clonaid, claimed her company had cloned a human.

Linked with the UFO-worshiping Raelian sect, the following's founder, Rael (left), claims that extraterrestrials created humanity and support cloning.

After more than a year of harsh criticism of the sect and Clonaid, a lawyer attempting to appoint the alleged cloned girl "Eve" a guardian, gave up, denouncing the original announcement as "a sham."

A Korean stem cell researcher was later disgraced in 2006 when he revealed that the 11 human embryos he claimed to have cloned and extracted stem cells from didn't even exist.

Original here


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