A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies | View All

topical index: frauds, hoaxes, conspiracies

2012 doomsday theories
9/11 conspiracies
alien abduction
Andrews, Lynn
anti-vaccination movement
area 51
Apollo Moon landing hoax hoax
Aztec UFO hoax
belief armor
Ben Stein conspiracy
Blaylock, Russell (conspiracy involves Big Pharma, the WHO, and the US government)
Bridey Murphy
Rashid Buttar, D.O.
cannabis cures cancer hoax
Cardiff Giant
"Carlos" hoax
Castaneda, Carlos
cattle "mutilation"
charities hoax email
chelation therapy
Hulda Clark
climate change deniers
Cottingly fairy hoax
crop circle
crystal skull
Dixon, Jeane
electromagnetic fields (cell phones, Wi-Fi, etc.)
facilitated communication
food allergy conspiracy
Ford, Arthur hoax
Fritz, Dr.
Geller, Uri (accused of being a fraud by James Randi, but he denies it)
Gerson therapy (Big Pharma conspiracy)
haunted house
herbal fuel
HIV/AIDS denial
hollow Earth
Holocaust denial
Horowitz, Leonard (many conspiracies but the best one is that the illuminati are behind the standards of the 12-note musical scale)
Hutchison hoax
Ica stones
Indian rope trick
Inset Fuel Stabilizer
Knight, J.Z. (Ramtha)
Lenz, Frederick (Rama)
mind control
multi-level marketing (MLM)
multi-level marketing (MLM) harassment
Nigerian scam
organic food (GM conspiracy)
perfect prediction scam
Piltdown Hoax
Philadelphia Experiment
Poe's Law
Project Alpha
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
Protsch (von Zieten), Reiner
Pufedorf hoax
pyramid schemes, chain letters, & Ponzi schemes
quack Miranda warning
Quadro Tracker
Rader, William C., M.D.
Rampa, Lobsang
Rath, Matthias
Rivas, Catalina
Sai Baba
Satanic ritual abuse
shroud of Turin
Simpson, Rick (hemp oil cures cancer)
Soal-Goldney experiment
Sokal hoax
Steve Terbot hoax
Trudeau, Kevin
Urantia Book
vaccine conspiracy
Velikovsky, Immanuel
Andrew Wakefield
Yellow Bamboo
Last updated 13-Mar-2015

Other Sources 

"Pranks, Frauds, and Hoaxes from Around the World." Robert Carroll (2004). Skeptical Inquirer. volume 28, No. 4. July/August, pp. 41-46.

Clever Irrationality by R. Carroll

My review of The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. The authors consider conspiracy theories to be examples of cogntive pareidolia or apophenia

Oprah's 3-ring circus (conspiracy to keep psychic research out of the hands of scientists)

Lifelock Shows Identity Theft Services Not Foolproof As a penalty for inflating guarantees that Lifelock could prevent identity theft from ever happening, the company has agreed to a $12 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

The Trashing of Margaret Mead How Derek Freeman Fooled Us All on an Alleged Hoax ...the hoaxing argument is easily challenged using Freeman’s own unpublished interviews with the Samoan woman on whose testimony Freeman so heavily relied....Freeman stated his argument so boldly and presented it with such certainty that it seemed believable. In fact, it seemed foolish not to believe him. Almost no one thought that it might be a good idea to look at the actual interviews with Fa’apua’a and to ask if Freeman’s certitudes about the value of her testimony were warranted. These unpublished interviews with her demonstrate that there is no compelling evidence that Mead was hoaxed. It was a good story — a story that many people wanted to believe. Alas, it was a story that was too good to be true.

note: the comments on this article make for good reading.

Brian Brushwood lectures on YouTube 1. How the shortchange con works 2. Science vs. Pseudoscience 3. How Astrology & Divinations Work 4. UFOs: What are the odds? 5. False Memory & Eyewitness Testimony 6. Bigfoot and Cryptozoology 7. Crop Circles 8. Spiritualism, Table Tipping & Dowsing 9. ESP & Probability 10. Homeopathy, Magnets, & Quackery 11. The Placebo Effect & Psychic Surgery

Too Good to Be True

Warning sounded on web's future

Michael Shermer and "the pigeon drop" con (YouTube)

"The Serpent’s" Tale by Kurt W. Burchfiel (Strange Magazine)

Alias Carlos Allende:The Mystery Man Behind the Philadelphia Experiment by Robert A. Goerman

Chuck Whitlock

Cliff Pickover's Internet Encyclopedia of Hoaxes

Computer Virus hoaxes

Consumer Reports

Encyclopedia of Scams

Eric's History of Perpetual Motion and Free Energy Machines

Fairy Tale An Untrue Story Fairy Photographs, Piltdown Man, and Faked Vermeer Paintings The Debunking of Three Hoaxes by James Opie

Federal Consumer Information Center

Federal Trade Commission Home Page 

FTC: Miracle Health Claims - Add a Dose of Skepticism

FDA - Health Fraud Scams

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Internet Scambusters

It's a Fake! by Lee Moller

Museum of Hoaxes

Museum of Questionable Medical Devices

National Fraud Information Center


New "Shroud" Claims Challenged as Spurious 

Piltdown Man by Richard Harter 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

The IDChip spoof


Urban Legends & Folklore

Urban Legends Reference Pages snopes.com

What's Wrong with Multi-level Marketing?

Great Science Frauds


Bernard-Henri Lévy a laughing stock for quoting fictional philosopher When France’s most dashing philosopher took aim at Immanuel Kant in his latest book, calling him “raving mad” and a “fake”, his observations were greeted with the usual adulation. To support his attack, Bernard-Henri Lévy — a showman-penseur known simply by his initials, BHL — cited the little-known 20th-century thinker Jean-Baptiste Botul.

There was one problem: Botul was invented by a journalist in 1999 as an elaborate joke

Recommended Reading

Abanes, Richard. End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1998).

Brugioni, Dino A. Photo Fakery : The History and Techniques of Photographic Deception and Manipulation (Brasseys Inc., 1999)

Camp, Gregory S. Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia (Baker Book House, 1997).

Coughlin, Paul T. Secrets, Plots & Hidden Agendas: What You Don't Know About Conspiracy Theories (Intervarsity Press, 1999).

Feder, Kenneth L. Frauds, Mysteries and Myths: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology 3rd ed. (Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1998).

Goldwag, Arthur. 2009. Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies:The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more.Vintage.

Hofstadter, Richard. 1964. The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Harper’s Magazine, November. Some things never change. Forty-five years ago, the paranoid right planted the seeds that continue to produce a parade of parrots.

Hoofnagle, Chris Jay. (2007). The Denialists' Deck of Cards: An Illustrated Taxonomy of Rhetoric Used to Frustrate Consumer Protection Efforts. SSRN.

Judson, Horace Freeland. (2004). The Great Betrayal : Fraud in Science. Harcourt.

Keene, M. Lamar. The Psychic Mafia (Prometheus, 1997).

McConnachie, James and Robin Tudge (2008). The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories 2  Rough Guides.

McCoy, Bob. Quack! : Tales of Medical Fraud from the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices (Santa Monica Press, 2000).

Michaels, David. 2008. Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health. Oxford University Press.

Oreskes, Naomi and Erik M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. Bloomesbury Press.

Pipes, Daniel. Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From (The Free Press, 1997).

Randi, James. An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, (N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1995)

Randi, James. The Faith Healers (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1987).

Randi, James. Flim-Flam! (Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1982)

Randi, James. The Truth about Uri Geller, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1982)

Ronson, Jon. 2002. Them: Adventures with Extremists. Simon & Schuster.

Shermer, Michael. 2009. Why People Believe in Conspiracies: A skeptic's take on the public's fascination with disinformation. Scientific American.

Specter, Michael. 2009. Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Penguin Press.

Stein, Gordon. Encyclopedia of Hoaxes (Prometheus, 1993).

Stein, Gordon. Hoaxes!: Dupes, Dodges & Other Dastardly Deceptions (Visible Ink Press 1995).

Steiner, Robert A. Don't Get Taken: Bunco & Bunkum Exposed -  How to Protect Yourself (Wide-A-Wake Books, 1989).

Swierczynski, Duane. The Complete Idiot's Guide To Frauds, Scams, and Cons (Alpha Books 2002).

Vankin, Jonathan and John Whalen. The Seventy Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals (Citadel, 1998).

If you find a Website you think is illegally selling human drugs, animal drugs, medical devices, biological products, foods, dietary supplements or cosmetics over the Web, please click here.

Books by R. T. Carroll

cover The Critical Thinker's Dictionary

The Skeptic's Dictionary


Print versions available in Dutch, Russian, Japanese, and Korean.

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