Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for January, 2009

Real deaths behind Indiana Jones’ latest legend


Indiana Jones’ wacky search for crystal skulls ended up involving aliens and the “lost city of Akator”. But not only are crystal skulls just contemporary hoaxes, the real story behind “Akator” is one that goes beyond fraud.

The case has been already summarized in a good article by Philip Coppens, but now Bruno Farias has published an audio interview with “Tatunca Nara” himself, conducted at the end of 2007.

“Tatunca”, actually German-born fugitive Gunther Hauck, claimed to Farias that 80% of the book that made his claims famous worldwide were lies created by Karl Brugger. That’s not a big surprise, since Brugger has been murdered and all the claims have been proven false. But not very smart, since as Farias notes, Hauck himself recorded his claims on tape at the time. Just one more nail in the many coffins that spurred from these wild claims. Unlike Indiana Jones, those searching for Akakor or El Dorado weren’t immortal.

Presenting some new information and emphasizing how Hauck remains free to this day, I read Farias article with a grain of salt – I haven’t heard of him before –, but it does seem consistent with what is already known.

The article is available here: Lost Cities of Amazon. The audio interview is in Portuguese, apparently recorded from a phone, no English subtitles are given.

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Interview with the creator of the “Haitian UFOs”

Last night the Brazilian TV show Fantástico interviewed French CGI wizard David Nicolas, responsible for the infamous Haitian UFOs of 2007. You not only get to see who the man is, the PC where all the magic happened, including wire frames of the “UFOs”, but right in the beginning we have another exclusive clip created by Nicolas showing a – CGI, of course – UFO in Rio de Janeiro diving into the sea.

All in Portuguese, of course (you can read an automated translation here). Perhaps the most relevant part is a comment by Nicolas:

“They had experts to comment on the case, and many thought it was real. For my part, I look at these images today and have difficulty in believing them, ten years from now they will look ridiculous.”

We had already posted about Nicolas and his previous works around here.

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The Trick of the Disappearing Thumb


Here’s a neat little trick you can play on yourself. In fact, you can only play it on yourself. Raise your arm (any of them), extending it over your head with an open palm, in such a way that you can’t see it.

Now, with your other hand, touch the tip of your nose with your index finger. Stay in this ridiculous position for around five seconds. Finally, raise your index finger and try to touch the thumb of your raised arm.

If you can’t find your thumb the first time you try, and starts to wander around, you will have the feeling that your thumb disappeared from your hand.

Congratulations, you have just played with your proprioception. That’s the sense of the relative position of the neighboring parts of the body, for instance, right now you know where your feet are even without looking at them. And we only notice the proprioception when it doesn’t work very well, as in the example below:


Much more interesting are the experiences with proprioception that lead to the rubber hand illusion. Or, in an even more extreme – and proportionally fascinating – version, where you fail to feel your whole body, in a sort of artificial “out-of-body” experience.

Thus, that classic scene of standing on one foot and touching the tip of your nose goes from proprioception to consciousness and out-of-body experiences. Tell that to the officer, he may find it a trip. [via Microsiervos]

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