The media will do anything to get us to click on their headlines. "Baffling!" they cry. "Insane!" they bleat. "Not Photoshopped!" they madly proclaim. One tried-and-true strategy is appealing to our strange thirst for irony. Did you know that the inventor of the Segway died by driving his Segway off a cliff? That's news, son! The media loves that stuff. And they'll go to great lengths to get it ...
In 2013, recently fired factory worker Darren Baldwin went nuts, punched his manager in the face, and threatened several other colleagues with not one, but two knives he'd been carrying around. Dude's got backup knives! That's not just crazy; that's prepared crazy. The kicker? He worked in a stress ball factory. News outlets promptly began reporting on the case, reaping that sweet ironic gold.
Brian Williams would later need a lot of stress balls for other dishonest reporting reasons.
But actually ...
As far as we can tell, there's no such thing as a "stress ball factory." Sure, those things are made somewhere, but if every individual object within your personal line of sight right now were made in its own specific factory, then there wouldn't be an inch of the planet left for us to live on. In this case, the building that Baldwin worked in was SPS, an 82,000-square-foot factory that manufactures a hundred different items -- from stress balls to mouse pads, keyrings, coasters, notebooks, stationery, drinkware, and Rubik's cubes. And yet tragically, the headline wasn't "Mad genius in Rubik's Cube factory plans ahead, brings TWO knives!"
2014's Noah wasn't your standard Bible movie. For one thing, its director, Darren Aronofsky, is a staunch atheist, and the movie doesn't mention God by name (or ... title?) even once. For another thing, the story takes a few liberties with the tale, turning Noah into kind of an asshole, and oh yeah, suggesting that his ark project was assisted by giant rock monsters. It ... didn't go over well.
"This isn't believable!" -- people who picture Satan as a cartoon character holding a trident
In one hilarious case, it appeared that God himself had directly criticized the film by flooding a cinema in Exeter, England, forcing them to cancel the screening. The irony was so delicious that it was reported by TIME.
But actually ...
The "flooding" was more of a "slight carpet dampening," due to a malfunctioning ice machine. According to the cinema's spokesman, they arrived at work at 7 a.m. to find the carpet near the concession stand to be slightly squelchier than was normal. Also the movie wasn't so much "canceled" as it was "delayed by a couple of hours."
How TIME believes cinema employees reacted.
There's "anti-climactic," and then there's "a bit damp, honestly."
Also, the Vue Exeter is a major cinema, which means that there were half a dozen movies showing at the same time as Noah, all of which had to be delayed. All things considered, a more accurate headline would be something like "Minor Moisture Problem In Concession Stand Slightly Delays Opening Of Cinema On Same Weekend As One Of Several Films Playing At Said Cinema Involves Wetness As A Major Plot Point." But that's too many characters.
According to a 2016 study, covered in outlets like The Washington Post and CNN, more people die in hurricanes with female names than male ones. The reason? Good old-fashioned misogyny. See, hurricanes obviously don't have genders -- or at least we assume they don't, because it's hard to check under their skirts. Meteorologists give hurricanes human names for reasons that boil down to tradition and convenience.
NRL Monterey Marine Meteorology Division/ NOAA
Or sometimes revenge against childhood bullies.
But this widely reported study noted that female hurricanes, like Hurricane Katrina, tend to kill way more people than male hurricanes, like Hurricane Earl. The idea was that we don't think a female hurricane can hurt us, so we're more inclined to stand our ground against Hurricane Annabelle than we would against Hurricane Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
But actually ...
When National Geographic delved a little deeper into the investigation, they found a few flaws. First of all, the study analyzed hurricane deaths starting from 1950, but until 1979, all hurricanes were given female names. So female hurricanes had an almost 30-year head start on male ones when it came to death toll. On top of that, earlier hurricanes had a higher death toll than later ones, because we're better at dealing with them now. And here's the kicker: When Slate science writer Eric Holthaus looked into the same data and removed 2012's devastating Hurricane Sandy (which was listed by the researchers as a "female" hurricane without apology to Sandy Koufax, Sandy Saddler, Sandy Berger, or Sandy Nelson), the results became much less conclusive. Basically, when you correct for outliers, it turns out that hurricanes are crazy and destructive and it doesn't really matter what you name them. You could call one Hurricane Fluffy McButternuts and it would still kill you.
Mike Trenchard/Earth Sciences & Image Analysis Laboratory Johnson Space Center
Question: Is this Ivan or Isabel? Answer: No one gives a shit when winds are chucking tree branches at your face.
Some people, called doctors, say that raw milk can carry harmful bacteria, which is the entire reason we pasteurize it to begin with. Others say that the pasteurization process destroys beneficial nutrients and that prohibiting the choice to consume raw milk is a stark example of government overreach. In 2016, lawmakers in West Virginia voted on a bill to allow state residents to drink a salmonella milkshake if they really wanted to. It passed, and to celebrate their victory, they toasted with some nice, cool glasses of unpasteurized cow juice. Hilariously, they all got sick.
But actually ...
We're not going to weigh in on the whole milk versus freedom argument here because, most importantly, we don't care. At all. However, in this particular case, the evidence suggests that the lawmakers did not get sick by drinking raw milk. They just got the flu.
Who wants to bet they didn't believe in getting vaccinations?
It's true that a bunch of the people who drank raw milk after the vote wound up hospitalized with stomach-churning digestive problems, but an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) suggests that their sickness was coincidental, because a bunch of people who didn't drink the milk also got sick. The more plausible explanation is that a whole bunch of people were crammed into one room while a bug was going around. Some of the victims testified that they were already coming down with something before they sipped the bovine hemlock. In fact, the real story is that the person who brought the raw milk to the hearing must have done so illegally, by definition, because it was only made legal mere seconds before it was being handed out. We can only imagine that if the vote had gone the other way, some intern would have had to quietly pour a couple of gallons of illegal milk into some government toilets.
Or give up politics all together to become some dairy-bootlegging Al Capone.
In 2012, George Dalmon and Andy Miles finished a long hard day of being British by visiting an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Brighton, England. After plowing through several plates of food each, the manager kicked them out and told them that they were both banned for life because they ate too much food and were driving him out of business. Later, the two would pose for the sympathetic media in front of the restaurant, doing their best to look like they were starving.
"Oh man, sooo hungry. This where the stomach is, right?"
And yes, this was the exact plot of an early Simpsons episode. The Simpsons did it first. And that makes it the exact plot of a South Park episode. Because we can only process things via cartoons.
But actually ...
Dalmon and Miles weren't really thrown out for eating too much. They were thrown out for being a couple of assholes. Apparently, the two had been regular customers of the restaurant, coming multiple times a month for upwards of two years, and every time they came through the door, the staff would have to brace themselves for a bad time.
"I thought it included other people's food."
The fact that they challenged themselves to Hoover up as much physical matter as they possibly could after paying the cover charge was a factor, but not half as much as the way they conducted themselves. Dalmon and Miles would constantly act disorderly and push in front of other patrons in order to get to the food first, actively preventing other paying customers from eating, and generally creating an unfriendly environment for anyone else who was there to sit down to a nice meal.
Eventually, after a string of complaints, the gentlemen were finally escorted from the establishment, after which they complained to the media about their first-world problems. And we, like a bunch of suckers, ate it up.
For more news that's anything but, check out Man Vapes Semen: 5 B.S. News Stories That Went Viral and 5 B.S. News Stories That Fooled Your Friends.
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