by The Phantom Websurfer
©2005 Bard and Cubist -- all rights reserved
The Internet has been described as "a flea market the size of Australia". It's been said -- with good reason -- that you can find pretty much anything on the Internet. The thing is, garbage is just as easy to find as good stuff, if not easier. So how do you tell the difference? Part of the trick is knowing what 'good stuff' looks like; another part is knowing the earmarks of garbage...
Four legs good, two arms better
This is very odd stuff. It's a staid archaeological exhibit, displaying the results of a normal excavation in a manner which will be familiar to anyone who's spent any time in a museum... except that the subject of this particular excavation is a centaur. More 'alternative history' than hoax, this exhibit is deliberately designed to force its viewers to confront the thorny issue of how, exactly, one can be sure that one's knowledge is accurate.
Please do not touch the exhibits while browsing the Centaur excavation at Volos webpage.
The snack from 10,000,000 BC
Those of our readers who live outside the USA may not be aware, but there is a nontrivial segment of the American populace which flatly rejects the theory of evolution. These people are known as 'Creationists', a small but prominent segment of whom prefer (for reasons of PR) to be called 'Intelligent Design theorists'. By whatever name, their rallying cry is, 'Somehow, somewhere, something is wrong with evolution', and they'll happily latch onto pretty much any 'evidence', no matter how bogus or how badly it contradicts any of their other arguments, as long as it lets them finish their argument-of-the-moment with "...therefore, evolution is wrong."
Case in point: The soi-disant 'fossil specimen' known as Onyate Man. If you haven't heard of Onyate Man, there's a very simple reason -- it's a hoax. Back in 1999, members of the group New Mexicans for Science and Reason decided to have some fun with Creationists' excessive credulity. They fabricated a 'fossil' which consisted of a modern human being swallowed by a dinosaur; faked up a paleontological dig site for their sculpture to be 'discovered' in; got plenty of photographic documentation of their sensational 'find'; and created a webpage to disseminate the shocking truth to all the world before it could be suppressed by The Dogmatic Forces Of Scientific Orthodoxy. While it would not be strictly accurate to state that all Creationists bought into Onyate Man on sight, the (rather high) percentage who actually did fall for the hoax -- including such leading lights of Creationism as 'Dr.' Kent Hovind! -- was high enough that Creationists should be embarrassed.
Go here to see the original Onyate Man webpage, and here for NMSR's explanation of the hoax.
If you know of any sites whose subject matter renders them suitable for inclusion in TSAT, send us the URL!