Among the hundreds of "Is this true?" queries we receive from readers every day, we usually find at least a few items that are obviously jokes or satirical articles. Rather than viewing this phenomenon, as some do, as yet another indicator of the imminent demise of critical thinking, we see it as part and parcel of what we do. Good satire, after all, has an air of believability to it — the satirist starts with reality and stretches it just a bit to spin a tale that will strike the reader as a ridiculous yet conceivable extension of current conditions. And jokes often have attributes in common with urban legends: they're narratives, they serve as expressions of social beliefs and customs, and they describe general, vaguely plausible events. So, if a joke is transformed into an urban legend by prefacing it with a "This is a true story" tag, it's not surprising that someone might venture to ask us if it really is a true story. (Indeed, our Jokes page includes articles we've written about dozens of the more prevalent
Nonetheless, some queries leave us scratching our heads over just what readers are asking of us. They send us jokes, they seem to recognize that what they're sending us are jokes, yet they still ask us to validate something about what they're passing along. Under the conviction that perhaps greater minds than ours can fathom the secrets of some questions that have stumped us, we present below another collection of items that have been submitted to us for verification over the years:
Is this true?
Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.
"In honor of this holy season," Saint Peter said, "you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven."
The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. "It represents a candle," he said.
"You may pass through the pearly gates," Saint Peter said.
The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, "They're bells".
Saint Peter said, "You may pass through the pearly gates."
The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.
Saint Peter looked with a raised eyebrow and asked, "And just what do those symbolize?"
The man replied, "They're Carols."
I think this is unmitigated garbage, can you tell me?
Every Beatles album has a small image of a hamster hidden somewhere within the artwork. This is a private joke referring to the fact that they were going to call themselves The Hamsters at one stage. These little images are difficult to find, and therefore all the more rewarding on locating them.
Clue: In "With The Beatles", look in George's left nostril.
A coffee table book of Bealtles album artwork, entitled "Where's Hammy?" will be published by Simon and Schuster in time for Christmas.
Found this while surfing the web, is it true?
THE WORLD'S LARGEST CAT, Verismo Leonetti Reserve Red, and the world's
It is unknown whether Verismo Leonetti "Leo" Reserve Red, a 4-foot-long
Once the two were taken to the room with all of the cameras, things began
cat food commercial on one or two occasions, immediately climbed upon a
"From there, it was a bloodbath," said photographer Peter Ellis. "That big
At this time, it is not known whether anyone will be pressing charges.
I received this item about Einstein:
Einstein's birthday is March 14. He would now be 127. Few people remember that the Nobel Prize winner married his cousin, Elsa Lowenthal,
He stated that he was attracted to Elsa because she was well endowed. He postulated that if you are attracted to women with large breasts, the
Is this real? Somehow I think not.
Tennessee Ten Commandments
Some people in Tennessee have trouble with all those "shalls" and "shalt
The Hillbilly's Ten Commandments
(1) Just one God.
Now that's kinda plain an' simple, don't ya think? Y'all have a nice day.
Is this true?
The latest telephone poll taken by the office of the Governor of Texas asked whether people who live in Texas think illegal immigration is a serious problem:
35% of respondents answered: "Yes, it is a serious problem."
65% of respondents answered: "No esta una problema importante."
Could you check this one, not a joke, it is new to me.
Recently uncovered evidence indicates that this sport actually began in
A shepherd, Velvel Gross, passed the time by hitting pebbles with his
The game could then be played by Wednesday golfers as nine
The putting surface was named after Lazar Green, because the shortest
They came in 90 or 100 compression and were vigorously tested by a
Soon courses sprang up all over the land with such exotic names as Knobble
Membership in these clubs provided many diverse activities. Tournaments
A committee of men was responsible for the many rules and regulations that
And that, boys and girls , is the story of how the Jews invented golf.
Is this true?
A woman, standing nude, looks in the bedroom mirror and says to her husband, "I look horrible; I feel fat and ugly. Pay me a compliment."
The husband replies, "Your eyesight's damn near perfect."
(He never heard the shot.)
Last updated: 25 April 2009
Mastio, David. "The Strange Tail of the Outlawed Michigan Beaver Dam." The Detroit News. 5 April 1998 (p. B5). Associated Press. "State Gives Beavers Cease-and-Desist Order." 31 March 1998. The Wall Street Journal. "The Spring Pond Beavers." 3 March 1998 (p. A18).