Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for February, 2008

Cetaceans, sex & sea serpents

In 1741, missionary Hans Egede published his report of a “most dreadful monster” seen near the coast of Greenland. Along with an illustration by Egede himself, it would become a particularly famous account in the vast collection of “sea serpents” tales.

Since then, many explanations to the sighting were advanced, such as the one that says the folks may have seen a giant squid (Architeuthis), with one of the tentacles mistaken for a tail.

But Charles Paxton, from University of St Andrews, Scotland, suggested a couple of years ago a much more interesting hypothesis. Paxton has already been awarded the IgNobel in Biology in 2002 for his study on the “Courtship behaviour of ostriches towards humans under farming conditions in Britain“, so his hypothesis may not be such a surprise.

Paxton proposes the folks saw a whale penis.

Yes, a male whale of a species unknown to the travelers, for some reason excited and having its erect organ — which can reach up to two meters in length — mistaken for the tail of some sea serpent.

An image, however, may be worth more than the last dozen words:

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The Cottingley Fairies – by Nokia


To demonstrate the capabilities of a cell phone model with a high resolution camera, Nokia asked a noted photographer to capture fairies. Not real ones, but cutout small fairies posing on idyllic sceneries, on an adorable reference to the Cottingley fairies.

The contemporary fairies are prettier — and so much anatomically correct they come naked — but as the cell phone camera captures much better images than what was possible almost a century ago, they do look obviously fake, my dear Watson.

The old ones also looked clearly fake, but those were other times. If only people strived to hoax fairy images rather than UFOs, we would at least have a more artistically pleasing corpus of evidence to wonder by. Not just insects.

Continue for more fairy images made with a cellphone.

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Backwards speech… Groovy, baby!

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Believe it… or not! Jon Kelly, who earns his money by exploring the questionable subject of Reverse Speech is venturing into porn. Backwards.

“The Naughty American” asked Kelly to analyze porn flicks (no pun intended), “hoping that Kelly would discover that when, say, Roxy Deville is screaming and moaning like a banshee, that she would be saying, ‘Go to church every Sunday’ in reverse”.

He did, sort of. As they report:

Kelly selected a scene from NaughtyFlipside.com featuring Deville, and, apparently, when her phrase, “Is that f****** p**** in tune now?” is played backwards, DeVille really says, “Porn movies play something good for the soul.”

Check the article (many NSFW links). There are some other examples, with audio files to download and hear for yourself — in the comfort of your own home.

Unbelievable as it may seem, this is not a parody. I checked it and the tunes, reversed again, do sound like the originals. All suggests Kelly actually did that “analysis”.

“The backwards messages tell us the union of male with female may be essential to a deeper understanding of humanity’s role in the universe,” he said to the Naughty American.

Skeptics would think such cases would be a very entertaining evidence that “reverse speech” is based upon apophenia, pareidolia, i.e., that if you look for a message upon a sufficiently large and reasonably random base, you can hear almost anything that you want. That there’s nothing intentional, sinister or otherwise about it. Such “finds” are statistically bound to happen.

But how can you beat the argument that says porn movies play something good for the soul?

I want to believe.

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ManBearPig!

Complete trash, you know. It’s just a guy inside a box sticking his head out from a hole, and to make things worse, the body over the box seems to be of a real dead animal.

But it’s so terrible you may want to look for more, and in that case, check this page, with more ManBearPig, including even an octopus and the head of a woman with a different wig.

I don’t understand what they are saying, but it does seem Chinese, as the text in the website, that bizarrely is actually an image of the text. The website also seems to have only that one page. A lookup of the domain name reveals that the website seems to be hosted in Spain, and even to be registered there.

This all puzzles me, because the one other example I had seen a year ago of such ridiculous thing was in Arabic and referred to a girl cursed. And it seems to be exactly the same setup, if not the same place.

The fact I don’t understand Arabic or Chinese may solve my puzzlement, as in both videos people may be speaking the same language, but I would really like to know what the heck this is all about.

UPDATE: The page with the videos has been updated revealing it’s all a viral marketing ploy topromotea music festival. Lame.

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Haiti UFOs: the prequels

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This is old news, but “Barzolff“, creator of the infamous Caribbean UFO videos, has a real name. It’s French animator David Nicolas, from Partizan, also known as “Numero 6”.

On his page on the Partizan website, Nicolas showcase the UFO videos he created before the Youtube sensation. And it’s fabulous to finally know who created them, because they also generated some buzz.

All of them, of course, are computer graphics. Don’t miss it: even though the best of the bunch is indeed the famous Haitian flick, every one of them shows some creative movement, shapes or behavior.

And even the Haitian one is there, on a better quality version. Interestingly, the better definition and sharpness makes it looks more… fake. The UFO looks nicer, with more details, but the palm trees look more artificial. This may be subjective, but I think you will agree with me.

As Nicolas also explained to Creativity Online, “if I had known there would be so much scrutiny I would have worked harder on it” he laughs.

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