Antiviral: Here's What's Bullshit on the Internet This Week

Is it just me, or did the internet seem extra hoaxy this week? It's not just me: Wayne Knight is not dead, this woman was not rescued from a desert island by Google Maps, and the world's most exclusive restaurant isn't really. Let's get right to it.

No, this woman wasn't just found after seven years on a desert island

Antiviral: Here's What's Bullshit on the Internet This Week

Facebook went craaazy for this bullshit. The story: A woman named Gemma Sheridan gets trapped on a deserted island for seven years and is finally discovered—by Google Earth. She etched "SOS" into the sand! Some kid in Minnesota saw it! Technology!

Except... no.

Actually, the story is plagiarized from 2013 Daily Mail article about explorer Ed Stafford, who spent 60 days on a desert island as part of a Discovery Channel TV special.

That same SOS photo dates back to at least 2010, when it appeared on an Amnesty International blog post about violence in Kyrgyzstan, where more than 100 such "SOS" signs appeared at the time. (Credit to wafflesatnoon.com for tracking down the photo.)

I wasn't able to get in touch with the person or people behind News-hound.org, the website that originally shared the story. Naturally, for contact info it lists the phone numbers of some super shady LLC. (And, of course, that LLC appears to be not in good standing, according to public documents.) Besides, several other stories on the site are clearly fake.


No, there isn't really a 10-year waiting list for this restaurant

There may be a ridiculous wait to eat at Damon Baehrel, but it's probably not going to take you 10 years to get a table. Not if you're willing to be flexible, anyway.

The New York Daily News published a feature on the exclusive Hudson Valley eatery this week, and touted its "10-year wait list" in the headline.

It's true that the restaurant warns diners their wait could be super long. The website carries this warning: "Reservations are not available for the same day, week or month nor can we accommodate walk-ins. It is not unusual for guests to wait several years to secure a reservation." And when I emailed for a reservation — you have to email, not call — I was told that the "very large backlog" means that a Baehrel has a "5+ year waiting list times 2!"

And yet shorter waits definitely happen.

Baehrel himself told the website Eater earlier this year that "even though the list is huge, most people don't wait the five, six years. Usually we start offering folks tables and options after a couple of years."

Some reviewers on sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor also say they were seated early. (You may have to be willing to eat dinner at 4 p.m., but the meal lasts five hours.)

This place may be the ultimate reminder that scarcity sells and special treatment is always available if you know the right people. As one disgruntled Yelp reviewer put it after giving up on trying to get a table: "When someone who had been there mentioned 'The Emperor's New Clothes,' it all clicked in. Proceed with caution."

Then again, if eating cattail shoots and drinking sycamore sap is your thing, maybe it's worth the wait. (Obviously I'm dying to go. The emperor looks amaaazing. Who's in?)


No, Newman is not dead

Did anyone actually get fooled by the hoax that Seinfeld actor Wayne Knight died? I saw more headlines debunking it than evidence that anyone got fooled. But either way! He's alive!

Ebuzzd.com, one of the sites that featured a fake report of Knight's death is a self-described hoax site that weirdly updated its story with real information.

From the ebuzzd "about" page: "Truth is, if you find stories on eBuzzd shocking or real at all, then you should log off the Internet and go for a run."

Maybe your face should log off and go for a run, ebuzzd.


No, Seattle police aren't re-opening an investigation into Kurt Cobain's death

The internet started making assumptions this week after Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO reported that police developed some old photos officers took at the scene of rocker Kurt Cobain's death in 1994.

But police have not re-opened an investigation into Cobain's death, despite a flurry of reports to the contrary.

KIRO makes it clear in its story that the case is still closed: "Police said in 1994 that the case was clearly a suicide. Ciesynski said that is still the case after reviewing evidence." Then again, the station promoted the story saying the case was going to be reopened.

The confusion appears to be a case of internet ouroboros at its most echo-chambery. The Seattle Police Department explains officers knew the media would ask about the Cobain case as the 20th anniversary of his death approached, so it reviewed the file, which sparked the story the police anticipated and led to a bunch of media questions.

The newly developed photos show a box of drug paraphernalia, some cash, a pack of cigarettes and a wallet with what looks like Cobain's ID inside, according to the AP. (Also, Kurt Cobain's skis aren't for sale on Craigslist.)


No, that email saying you have cancer isn't real

Thousands of people may have received an email that they have cancer, according to a warning from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The British health care agency known as NICE says it has been inundated with phone calls from worried recipients. The message came from addresses like no_reply@nice.org.uk or results@nice.org.uk, both fake but seemingly legit.

"NICE does not process blood results, and does not collect or keep personal health data," the agency said in a statement on its site.


Really, the bullshit is nonstop this week. Obama's not visiting a welfare organization in Amsterdam. @OfficiaICNN is an asshole. And it's not like you had any faith in Thought Catalog anyway.

Oh, and here are a bunch of quotes wrongly attributed to Einstein, courtesy of Matt Novak over at Paleofuture.

I'm still skeptical about reports that some fancy dog in China sold for $2 million, which, let's face it, is bullshit even if it's real.