6 Creepy ‘Facts’ Everybody Forgets Are Hoaxes Each Halloween
The internet can be a terrifying place -- a haunted digital asylum filled with spooky spam, terrible trolls, horrible hackers, and your mom on Facebook. But when they really want celebrate spookiness, internet folk will gather around a subreddit, bring out their flashlight Emoji, and tell scary stories. Stories which at first glance look legit, but when the moon is at its highest and people start checking for sources, are revealed to be bullshit. Buuuuulllshiiit! For example ...
Grainy Pictures Of Time Travelers Aren't Real
It's quite easy to debunk time travel. Have you heard of Adolf Hitler? Then either time travel isn't a thing, or time travelers are a real bunch of tools for not wiping him from history. In fact, this also seems to be the opinion of those who believe in time travel -- the tool part, that is.
According to believers on Tumblr and Facebook, historians keep finding evidence of time travelers acting like idiots by haphazardly wandering into photos, leaving behind their stuff, and making other rookie mistakes. Some of you might remember this viral smash from several years ago about a Charlie Chaplin blooper reel which accidentally bagged footage of a time traveler talking on her cellphone:
We're sorry to disappoint you, but that was nothing but an old-timey hearing aid -- which, obviously, one had to hold against their head, because the notion of making inventions tiny and convenient hadn't been invented yet. It's like when some weirdo thought a Civil War soldier pulled out an iPhone to give directions to the stagecoach driver in the 1948 western Fort Apache. That can't possibly be true. If that guy really had an iPhone, he would've insisted on recording the whole movie on it. Also, and we shouldn't have to be the ones to point this out, but unless these "time travelers" had some sort of slipstream technology installed in their OtterBoxes, there is no possible way their alleged cellphones would work in the past, because cell towers did not exist.
Truly, the incompetence of these highly advanced humans seems to know no bounds. Like when tabloids thought that some time-surfing hipster had dropped his vintage Swiss watch in the tomb of a Ming emperor?
Shortly after he accidentally put in the wash and it shrank.
Or when that same dude photobombed at a bridge opening in 1941, popping up in the audience like he was standing in line for the opening of a new vape shop?
Everyone in that crowd hates him as much as you would.
Well, the watch is from an unverified story published on a website known for bullshit, and has never been followed up on in almost a decade. And while the so-called "time-traveling hipster" might look at odds with his surroundings, all of the stuff that he's wearing was commercially available at the time, from the cardigan to the sunglasses all the way down to the tiny camera. Because that's what hipsters do: They dress like your great-grandfather. So how could you possibly tell them apart? Though the idea that someone mastered time travel just to go back and ironically witness the opening of a bridge in British Columbia is perhaps the most hipster thing imaginable.
But to all of us time travel skeptics, true believers have one last ace up their sleeves. Behold, the helicopter hieroglyphs of Abydos! Found in the lost Egyptian Temple of Seti, this series of hieroglyphs clearly show the outline of a helicopter, as well as other examples of modern machinery, such as a submarine and a jet fighter. Proof that's actually set in stone. Pretty damning, right?
Submarine or Luke Skywalker's landspeeder.
Well, according to some academics bored enough to debunk this nonsense, those shapes are just a coincidental side effect of the stone having been reused at some point, with new symbols being carved on top of old ones (this is not uncommon, it turns out). They don't even work as hieroglyphs anymore; only as a Rorschach test for conspiracy theorists. Also, and this is simply our amateur opinion here, if pharaohs really had the choice between taking a cat or an attack helicopter into the afterlife, every Egyptian tomb would look like the "Ride of The Valkyries" scene in Apocalypse Now.
Good News, Sports! The Madden Curse Isn't Real
The so-called "Madden Curse" is one of the most well-known pieces of video game legend, alongside that arcade game that brainwashes players and the cow level in Diablo. It warns that whichever player appears on the cover of the annual installment of the Madden video game series will go on to suffer a career-ending series of humiliating defeats or a horrifying injury in their very next season. Still, they get to be on the cover of a video game, impressing even the shittiest of nephews.
However, don't be fooled. Far from being some form of hi-tech voodoo, this curse can simply be lifted by crunching the numbers. This reveals how much the story owes its existence to incorrect statistics, mass hysteria, and a profound misunderstanding about how often athletes get injured at such a high level of physical performance.
The only curse here is spending an entire career with the Lions.
It's estimated that 40 percent of quarterbacks will miss one game a season due to injury, while less than half of running backs make it through an entire season without being minorly crippled. Our point is that this is a sport in which the average player -- a 6'1, 245-lb concussion machine -- is expected to get hit by the human equivalent of a Dodge pickup truck. Injuries will happen. If they didn't, we'd be questioning why the NFL wasn't fielding the New England Patriots to defend America from Ultron.
Because you can't deflate a robot?
As for the whole "poor performance" myth, that's pure bunkum too. When someone looked at every player to ever grace a Madden cover and analyzed their performances over the subsequent season, only half had what could be considered a "bad" season, while the rest got on perfectly fine. By which we mean NFL "fine," which is like regular fine, but with a concussion.
All that the Madden curse shows is that people still have a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of football. It's so brutal that many players are left with physical injuries -- often permanent ones. Nobody plays Street Fighter and is shocked when a defeated Ken's face looks like a battered grapefruit. Playing Madden and thinking the covers are cursed is like buying Lion Tamer '16 and being surprised when the maniac on the cover gets mauled. Hell, the brutalization is part of why people watch in the first place.
Being Born In November Doesn't Make You A Serial Killer
According to the esteemed experts at CreepyFacts.com, WeirdFacts.com, OhWowFacts.com, and LazyWebsiteMonetization.com, being born in November makes it dead certain that you'll be leading other people to certain death. It's unavoidable. Anyone born past Halloween might as well start saving up for a basement or fishing boat, because eventually they'll start collecting murder victims like other folks collect baseball cards. Unless, again, you understand how statistics work.
If you check these articles that claims that every November baby is a Ted Bundy in the making, chances are you'll find the same source being made reference to over and over again. That source is a PhD study entitled "Statistical analysis of the birth charts of serial killers". And guess what? It's bullshit!
"A statistical analysis of the laziness of readers to verify this study."
The focus of this study was astrological periods, which differ wildly from birth months. Where it does (briefly) discuss calendar months, the study clearly establishes that January is when most serial killers have been born. Which is still a quite meaningless assertion, because these grad students only drew from a minuscule sample size of 77 convicted murderers. Jeez, we found more serial killers than that browsing Craigslist for an hour. Let's do this thing ourselves, shall we?
On Wikipedia's "List of serial killers by number of victims," there are 367 people with recorded dates of birth. We looked through the entire list, tallied the months, and made the kind of spreadsheet that would get a statistics freshman put on some sort of watchlist. This is the result:
November isn't even near the top -- it's barely average. In fact, July babies are the ones that people should be freaking out over. This also means that the most dangerous month in which to have unprotected sex is October, not February. It makes a lot more sense that the highest number of knife-wielding psychopaths would be conceived around Halloween instead of Valentine's Day.
Gosh darn it, if you can't trust memes to correctly predict which of your Facebook friends is most likely to kill you in the shower, then what good are they?
Musicians Don't Predict Their Own Deaths In Song
We've written before about the many artists who had the misfortune of writing songs that turned out to be sadly prescient, like Tupac's now-infamous lyric "I been shot and murdered, can tell you how it happened word for word," which he wrote within the year of his death via drive-by shooting (the fact that Tupac had already been shot five times in a robbery and constantly rapped about his belief that he would die young is apparently inconsequential). In truth, it takes very little mental gymnastics to bend a song's meaning to be anything we want. And because of our human need to connect everything in the hopes of making sense of the Universe, it's only natural that fans will scour an artist's body of work to make sense of their passing.
Soon after the death of David Bowie in January 2016, endless articles appeared about how this pansexual alien god had predicted his own death in the lyrics and video for his last song, "Lazarus." And they were absolutely right.
"Are journalists phoning it in? Analysis of headlines says yes."
"Lazarus" is indeed Bowie singing about his own demise, which he eerily saw predicted would happen after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Until the very last moment, Bowie hid the news of his liver cancer from everyone except his most trusted loved ones. Instead, he shared with the world his last ever album Blackstar as a goodbye to the planet he so dearly loved. So writing about how Bowie predicted his own death with "Lazarus" is like reporting someone was able to guess the lottery numbers after watching the draw on TV.
It also doesn't feel like Bowie was trying to hide the fact that this song was a goodbye to the world. For a man who wrote the wildest, most esoterically beautiful lyrics known to man, lyrics like "Look up here, I'm in heaven" and "I've got scars that can't be seen" leave uncharacteristically little to the imagination. "Lazarus" couldn't be more honest or more on-the-nose about Bowie's terminal cancer if his music video was him unfurling a banner that read "GOODBYE I AM GOING TO DIE NOW" and standing next to it with a tired expression on his face.
Mid-April Isn't The Worst Week In American History
Everyone has experienced that run of bad luck which causes you turn to your loved one (or sock puppet, no judgment) and simply sigh, "I've had the worst week." Well, according to the media, odds are that that week would have taken place in the middle of April, because that's when all the bad stuff tends to happen in America.
For a while now, some newspapers have enjoyed pumping up their mid-April sales (or clicks) by publishing articles which remind the American people that the most dangerous week of the year is coming up. And it's not hard to see why people have drawn this conclusion. Even a cursory glance at this stretch of time in the history books gives us the Waco siege, the Columbine massacre, the Titanic sinking, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Texas City explosion, the Virginia Tech shootings, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the release of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.
If they make it a trilogy, we'll burn the country to the ground.
But is it all coincidence, or some darker plot by the Universe to screw up our Emancipation Day parties? We decided to do a little experiment. Employing Cracked's famously rigorous scientific process, we copy/pasted Wikipedia's "List of disasters in the United States by death toll" and "List of assassinations and acts of terrorism against Americans" and put them in a neat graph. This is what we came up with:
If the conspiracies were right about April 14-20 being the week wherein everything goes to hell stateside, we'd expect an overwhelming (exploding) tower in the April 11-20 bracket. And that it just isn't there. In fact, the level of mass tragedy in mid-April is tied with both March and July. Meanwhile, mid-September, late October, and mid-November clock in at 20, 16, and 19 disasters, respectively, overshadowing April when it comes to human misery. So to all those people who were glad they at least knew what kind of weather it would be like during the coming apocalypse, we apologize. Maybe start dressing in layers?
Pop Culture In No Way Predicted 9/11 -- We Just Like Mind Puzzles
Despite the fact that only one person can legitimately claim to have predicted 9/11, conspiracy theorists keep insisting that pop culture was throwing us clues for years before it happened. However, as exciting as it might be to think that spending 12 hours a day on the internet might turn you into a Delphian oracle, there's no such thing as fiction turning into fact.
One of the most famous examples of this pop culture prescience is the pilot episode of The Lone Gunman, the spinoff of The X-Files about three giant dorks who happen to have Fox Mulder's home number. In the episode, which aired in March 2001, the team uncovers a heinous government plot to fly an airliner into the World Trade Center in order to trigger a war.
Considering the show's ratings, it's possible the terrorists were the only ones watching.
People love to talk about this episode as if it its writers are modern-day soothsayers, instead of, say, a bunch of guys who'd done their research. Long before 9/11, terrorists had already attacked the WTC in 1993 with a truck bomb, while the first airliner to strike a skyscraper in NYC was a B-25 bomber in 1945. Terrorists aren't "think outside of the box" kind of people, but that kind of gets lost amidst their many other character flaws.
But that doesn't explain why a lot of pop culture had the destruction of the World Trade Center on the brain. In the decade preceding 9/11, the Twin Towers were laid to waste by rappers ...
... a clumsy giant Mario ...
... and even Cookie Monster.
It seems his spit can melt steel beams.
Though most unfortunate of all must be the cover of this flight simulator:
The worst Microsoft tragedy until Windows Vista.
It might hard to remember even for those of us who were older than nine when the attacks happened, but the Twin Towers were world-famous, iconic landmarks long before 9/11. Like how the Eiffel Tower is shorthand for Paris, the WTC shared a marquee with the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. And those two get destroyed so often in fiction that even terrorists seem to think it'd be hacky to go to that well.
But what about the creepy iconography? How could there not be a greater power at play that made Lisa Simpson hold this New York advert after Springfield is under siege by a supposed terrorist attack?
Those who don't remember Simpsons episodes are doomed to repeat them.
Or Neo, the hero from The Matrix, who discovers that his world had been besieged by evil machines, and whose passport expires on 9/11?
Even Supertramp, the English prog rock band from the '70s, had a spooky warning on one of their album covers:
And yet they didn't see fit to warn us about disco.
What you're seeing there is a phenomenon known as apophenia. There's nothing our brains want more than to make sense of the world by finding patterns, and because of its massive breadth, popular culture is a treasure trove of incidental patterns. If something catastrophic were to happen tomorrow in Temple, Texas, it would take the internet less than an hour to find some vintage Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom poster which suddenly seems terrifyingly prescient. There's an innate need in the human brain to find meaning in coincidence, because ironically, the reality that there is no ultimate design in the events of our lives is way more terrifying than any conspiracy theory.
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, the Cracked staff and some special guests as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effect and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
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