Back in the nineteenth century, when news spread primarily by word of mouth and was often difficult to verify in a timely manner, newspapers used to print gossip and rumors under the heading IMPORTANT IF TRUE — because some of the stories might very well have been true, and if they were true, they were important news.

The same phenomenon now takes place in a slightly different form: Internet users receive all manner of obvious hoaxes and jokes but forward them along as if they were real news, because they might be true, and if they are true, they’re important. All of these items have been sent to us — more than once — by readers wanting to know whether they’re true.




Red bullet
Mailings from an organization called the ‘Internal Revenue Service‘ are a scam.


Red bullet
Little Billy Evans needs your help to obtain a real body to replace the burlap sack full of leaves that now serves as his trunk.


Red bullet
According to a study published in The England Journal of Medicine, “ogling women’s breasts is good for a man’s health.”


Red bullet
President Clinton has ordered a recall of Massachusetts commemorative quarters because they feature a portrait of a minuteman holding a gun.


Red bullet
Harry Potter books are sparking a rise in Satanism among children.


Red bullet
Nostradamus predicted that December 2000 would see “the village idiot come forth to be acclaimed the leader in the home of greatest power.”


Red bullet
A date rape drug called “beer” is used by female sex predators preying on men in bars.


Red bullet
Women are having their thighs stolen and replaced with oatmeal.


Red bullet
Online magic trick reads minds and removes card chosen by subject from pack.


Red bullet
Amazing on-line psychic trick can read minds and identify which symbol a user selected from a list of many choices.


Red bullet
The “worst job in Singapore” belongs to a zoo worker who has to help animals masturbate in order to collect sperm samples from them.


Green bullet
1984 newspaper announced Daylight Saving Time contest to see who could save the most daylight.


Red bullet
Man attempting to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head inadvertently saves his own life when the bullet excises his inoperable brain tumor.


Red bullet
Terrorist attempting to light the fuse to a bomb hidden in his rectum is foiled by airline personnel.


Red bullet
An 83-year-old grandmother beat up six airport security guards.


Red bullet
You can look up anyone’s driver’s license or police records for free on the Internet.


Red bullet
Chess player’s head explodes.


Red bullet
Pacific Palisades High School placed an unusual message on their school telephone answering system.


Red bullet
The FBI tracks your every online keystroke with a pair of animated eyes.


Red bullet
Man arrested for insider trading attributes his financial success to time travel.


Red bullet
Saddam Hussein once starred in gay porn films.


Red bullet
An Oregon county health services department hired a Klingon interpreter to assist psychiatric patients who would speak no other language.


Red bullet
Researchers have developed genetically engineered fruit trees that bear meat.


Red bullet
A practical joker landed tourists in trouble by publishing a Japanese-to-English phrase book with incorrect definitions for every phrase.


Red bullet
E-mail advertises new cell phone conforming to federal regulations requiring motorists to use hands-free devices only.


Red bullet
Chihuahuas are actually a type of rodent bred to resemble dogs.


Red bullet
Perverts going door to door are getting folks to disrobe by asking to see various body parts.


Red bullet
A Kinsey Institute study found that having children lowers the IQ of both parents.


Green bullet
Roto-Rooter men find lots of strange things found in customers’ drains.


Red bullet
The U.S. is about to surrender its sovereignty to the United Nations.


Red bullet
Julie Andrews sang an old folks’ parody of “My Favorite Things” to celebrate her 69th birthday.


Red bullet
The BBC reported an outbreak of “zombism” in a Cambodian town.


Red bullet
The BBC reported on a lion’s mutilating 42 midgets in a Cambodian ring-fight.


Red bullet
A man starved to death rather than leave his computer to eat.


Red bullet
An argument over a San Diego-based message board resulted in two murders.


Red bullet
A medical study has determined working with idiots is ‘one of the deadliest forms of stress.’


Red bullet
The artificial sweetener aspartame was originally developed as an ant poison.


Red bullet
A free web site allows users to track the location of any cell phone.


Red bullet
A man had his thumbs surgically altered so that he could more easily operate his iPhone.


Red bullet
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is being driven into bankruptcy by a child who wished for unlimited wishes.


Red bullet
Federal judge takes away from black women the right to name their children.


White bullet
In dispute between bar owner and churchgoers, Texas judge makes caustic comment about which believes in prayer.


Red bullet
Web site provides access to program that will clean the inside of your computer screen.


Red bullet
Cheap but effective radiation tester — popcorn.


Red bullet
Drunk Chairman of the Federal Reserve lets loose in a bar about how bad the U.S. economy truly is.


Red bullet
The Taco Bell chain is closing due to allegations that their “beef” is really cat and dog meat.


Red bullet
An unusual planetary alignment on 4 January 2014 will make people on Earth weigh less.