Pranks aren’t funny – many lessons

Hoaxes, pranks, practical jokes. The media are a common target of these. Stay vigilant. A recent prank was played on KTVU-TV in the San Francisco Bay Area. The station issued an apology after an anchor read fake names that were a play on Asian names and were racially offensive. The names were reported as those […]

Much to learn from tale of Te’o

It’s the perfect time to post about Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame football player. You probably think I’m kidding. Aren’t most of us too sick of it to even think about it? We were duped by a once-in-a-lifetime story; let’s just learn our lesson and move on. But it’s not once in a lifetime, really. […]

Don’t let a hoax get by you

It happened again. Someone successfully plotted a hoax that got by the media and trended on Twitter. No — male celebrities are not donating sperm to so women can pay more than $24,000 for “top quality celebrity surrogate fathers.” Yes — the hosts of Britain’s Independent Television show, “This Morning,” have acknowledged that their […]

Browser hoax dupes many

A number of credible news sites and blogs got duped by a hoax recently, providing yet another lesson when it comes to dealing with numbers, studies and surveys, and stories that are just too much fun — as well as with our own biases. There’s a good accounting by the BBC here of what happened. […]

Internet hoaxes: Wow!

Internet hoaxes: They come in waves, and there are too many to count. They will catch you if you’re not careful, skeptical and alert. Yesterday a colleague sent out this YouTube clip. It’s crazy stuff. “Wow,” he wrote. I watched — and I was impressed. Had I not been in a rush, I would have […]