Twain’s ‘Petrified Man’ Hoax

From The Museum of Hoaxes:

It was a fascinating little blurb. So fascinating that many other papers soon reprinted it. The only problem was that not a word of it was true. It had been written by a young man named Samuel Clemens (better known later as Mark Twain) who was a recent employee of the Territorial Enterprise. (He had arrived in Nevada in 1861 hoping to make his fortune as a miner, but having failed at that endeavor, accepted a job at the newspaper.)

Twain later admitted that he was surprised at how many people were fooled by his story. It was his first attempt at a hoax, and when he penned it he had considered it “a string of roaring absurdities.” But once he realized how well his deception had succeeded, he admitted feeling a “soothing secret satisfaction.”

Jesse Helms “Hands” ad

Jesse Helms’ infamous thirty second commercial showing a pair of white hands crumpling a job rejection letter as a narrator says:

“You needed that job, and you were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority, because of a racial quota. Is that really fair? Harvey Gantt says it is. Gantt supports Ted Kennedy’s racial quota law that makes the color of your skin more important than your qualifications. Your vote on this issue next Tuesday. For racial quotas, Harvey Gantt. Against racial quotas, Jesse Helms.”

Guide to Cold Reading

From Australian Skeptics:

There are many people who promote themselves as psychics or clairvoyants, and who claim that their powers enable them to read your character, make contact with dead relatives, or provide insights into your life and your future.

Despite their claims, there has never been a successful demonstration of these powers in a laboratory, under properly controlled conditions. Indeed, the National Committee of Australian Skeptics offers a cash prize of $100,000 for any PROVEN demonstration of such powers. See The Challenge.

By far the most common method employed by psychics who have been put to the test is called cold reading. This method involves the psychic reading the subject’s body language etc, and skilfully extracting information from the subject, which can then be fed back later, convincing the subject that the psychic has told them things they couldn’t possibly have known!

The following is our 13 point guide to cold reading – Study them well, then amaze your friends with your new found psychic powers!