Almost neglecting the “neglected anniversary” of Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, H. L. Mencken’s hoax, and the lessons that lie therein

December 29, 2010

Could I get a longer title?  Here is our annual tribute to the hoax that gave its name and much inspiration to this blog.

Otherwise occupied — Kenny’s due to board an airplane in Beijing soon; tires for the cars; papers to correct, curriculum to correct; our wedding anniversary I cannot forget pending —  I nearly forgot: 93 years ago yesterday, on December 28, 1917, this column by H. L. Mencken was published in The New York Evening Mail:

A Neglected Anniversary

Mencken on April 7, 1933 - end of low-alcohol beer - Baltimore Sun Photo

H. L. Mencken at approximately 12:30 a.m., April 7, 1933, at the Rennert Hotel, corner of Saratoga and Liberty Streets, 17 years later, not neglecting a sudsy anniversary – Baltimore Sun photo

On December 20 there flitted past us, absolutely without public notice, one of the most important profane anniversaries in American history, to wit, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the bathtub into These States. Not a plumber fired a salute or hung out a flag. Not a governor proclaimed a day of prayer. Not a newspaper called attention to the day.

True enough, it was not entirely forgotten. Eight or nine months ago one of the younger surgeons connected with the Public Health Service in Washington happened upon the facts while looking into the early history of public hygiene, and at his suggestion a committee was formed to celebrate the anniversary with a banquet. But before the plan was perfected Washington went dry (This was war-time Prohibition, preliminary to the main catastrophe. — HLM), and so the banquet had to be abandoned. As it was, the day passed wholly unmarked, even in the capital of the nation.

Bathtubs are so common today that it is almost impossible to imagine a world without them. They are familiar to nearly everyone in all incorporated towns; in most of the large cities it is unlawful to build a dwelling house without putting them in; even on the farm they have begun to come into use. And yet the first American bathtub was installed and dedicated so recently as December 20, 1842, and, for all I know to the contrary, it may still be in existence and in use.

Curiously enough, the scene of its setting up was Cincinnati, then a squalid frontier town, and even today surely no leader in culture. But Cincinnati, in those days as in these, contained many enterprising merchants, and one of them was a man named Adam Thompson, a dealer in cotton and grain. Thompson shipped his grain by steamboat down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, and from there sent it to England in sailing vessels. This trade frequently took him to England, and in that country, during the ’30s, he acquired the habit of bathing.

The bathtub was then still a novelty in England. It had been introduced in 1828 by Lord John Russell and its use was yet confined to a small class of enthusiasts. Moreover, the English bathtub, then as now, was a puny and inconvenient contrivance — little more, in fact, than a glorified dishpan — and filling and emptying it required the attendance of a servant. Taking a bath, indeed, was a rather heavy ceremony, and Lord John in 1835 was said to be the only man in England who had yet come to doing it every day.

Thompson, who was of inventive fancy — he later devised the machine that is still used for bagging hams and bacon — conceived the notion that the English bathtub would be much improved if it were made large enough to admit the whole body of an adult man, and if its supply of water, instead of being hauled to the scene by a maid, were admitted by pipes from a central reservoir and run off by the same means. Accordingly, early in 1842 he set about building the first modern bathroom in his Cincinnati home — a large house with Doric pillars, standing near what is now the corner of Monastery and Orleans streets.

There was then, of course, no city water supply, at least in that part of the city, but Thompson had a large well in his garden, and he installed a pump to lift its water to the house. This pump, which was operated by six Negroes, much like an old-time fire engine, was connected by a pipe with a cypress tank in the garret of the house, and here the water was stored until needed. From the tank two other pipes ran to the bathroom. One, carrying cold water, was a direct line. The other, designed to provide warm water, ran down the great chimney of the kitchen, and was coiled inside it like a giant spring.

The tub itself was of new design, and became the grandfather of all the bathtubs of today. Thompson had it made by James Cullness, the leading Cincinnati cabinetmaker of those days, and its material was Nicaragua mahogany. It was nearly seven feet long and fully four feet wide. To make it water-tight, the interior was lined with sheet lead, carefully soldered at the joints. The whole contraption weighed about 1,750 pounds, and the floor of the room in which it was placed had to be reinforced to support it. The exterior was elaborately polished.

In this luxurious tub Thompson took two baths on December 20, 1842 — a cold one at 8 a.m. and a warm one some time during the afternoon. The warm water, heated by the kitchen fire, reached a temperature of 105 degrees. On Christmas day, having a party of gentlemen to dinner, he exhibited the new marvel to them and gave an exhibition of its use, and four of them, including a French visitor, Col. Duchanel, risked plunges into it. The next day all Cincinnati — then a town of about 100,000 people — had heard of it, and the local newspapers described it at length and opened their columns to violent discussions of it.

The thing, in fact, became a public matter, and before long there was bitter and double- headed opposition to the new invention, which had been promptly imitated by several other wealthy Cincinnatians. On the one hand it was denounced as an epicurean and obnoxious toy from England, designed to corrupt the democratic simplicity of the Republic, and on the other hand it was attacked by the medical faculty as dangerous to health and a certain inviter of “phthisic, rheumatic fevers, inflammation of the lungs and the whole category of zymotic diseases.” (I quote from the Western Medical Repository of April 23, 1843.)

The noise of the controversy soon reached other cities, and in more than one place medical opposition reached such strength that it was reflected in legislation. Late in 1843, for example, the Philadelphia Common Council considered an ordinance prohibiting bathing between November 1 and March 15, and it failed of passage by but two votes. During the same year the legislature of Virginia laid a tax of $30 a year on all bathtubs that might be set up, and in Hartford, Providence, Charleston and Wilmington (Del.) special and very heavy water rates were levied upon those who had them. Boston, very early in 1845, made bathing unlawful except upon medical advice, but the ordinance was never enforced and in 1862 it was repealed.

This legislation, I suspect, had some class feeling in it, for the Thompson bathtub was plainly too expensive to be owned by any save the wealthy; indeed, the common price for installing one in New York in 1845 was $500. Thus the low caste politicians of the time made capital by fulminating against it, and there is even some suspicion of political bias in many of the early medical denunciations. But the invention of the common pine bathtub, lined with zinc, in 1847, cut off this line of attack, and thereafter the bathtub made steady progress.

The zinc tub was devised by John F. Simpson, a Brooklyn plumber, and his efforts to protect it by a patent occupied the courts until 1855. But the decisions were steadily against him, and after 1848 all the plumbers of New York were equipped for putting in bathtubs. According to a writer in the Christian Register for July 17, 1857, the first one in New York was opened for traffic on September 12, 1847, and by the beginning of 1850 there were already nearly 1,000 in use in the big town.

After this medical opposition began to collapse, and among other eminent physicians Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes declared for the bathtub, and vigorously opposed the lingering movement against it in Boston. The American Medical Association held its annual meeting in Boston in 1849, and a poll of the members in attendance showed that nearly 55 per cent of them now regarded bathing as harmless, and that more than 20 per cent advocated it as beneficial. At its meeting in 1850 a resolution was formally passed giving the imprimatur of the faculty to the bathtub. The homeopaths followed with a like resolution in 1853.

But it was the example of President Millard Fillmore that, even more than the grudging medical approval, gave the bathtub recognition and respectability in the United States. While he was still Vice-President, in March, 1850, he visited Cincinnati on a stumping tour, and inspected the original Thompson tub. Thompson himself was now dead, but his bathroom was preserved by the gentlemen who had bought his house from the estate. Fillmore was entertained in this house and, according to Chamberlain, his biographer, took a bath in the tub. Experiencing no ill effects, he became an ardent advocate of the new invention, and on succeeding to the Presidency at Taylor’s death, July 9, 1850, he instructed his secretary of war, Gen. Charles M. Conrad, to invite tenders for the construction of a bathtub in the White House.

This action, for a moment, revived the old controversy, and its opponents made much of the fact that there was no bathtub at Mount Vernon, or at Monticello, and that all the Presidents and other magnificoes of the past had got along without any such monarchical luxuries. The elder Bennett, in the New York Herald, charged that Fillmore really aspired to buy and install in the White House a porphyry and alabaster bath that had been used by Louis Philippe at Versailles. But Conrad, disregarding all this clamor, duly called for bids, and the contract was presently awarded to Harper & Gillespie, a firm of Philadelphia engineers, who proposed to furnish a tub of thin cast iron, capable of floating the largest man.

This was installed early in 1851, and remained in service in the White House until the first Cleveland administration, when the present enameled tub was substituted. The example of the President soon broke down all that remained of the old opposition, and by 1860, according to the newspaper advertisements of the time, every hotel in New York had a bathtub, and some had two and even three. In 1862 bathing was introduced into the Army by Gen. McClellan, and in 1870 the first prison bathtub was set up at Moyamensing Prison, in Philadelphia.

So much for the history of the bathtub in America. One is astonished, on looking into it, to find that so little of it has been recorded. The literature, in fact, is almost nil. But perhaps this brief sketch will encourage other inquirers and so lay the foundation for an adequate celebration of the centennial in 1942.

(Text courtesy of Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k))

The entire history was a hoax composed by Mencken.

Even conservative wackoes appreciate the column.

Content with his private joke, Mencken remained silent about the hoax until a follow-up article, “Melancholy Reflections,” appeared in the Chicago Tribune on May 23, 1926, some eight years later. This was Mencken’s confession. It was also an appeal for reason to the American public.

His hoax was a joke gone bad. “A Neglected Anniversary” had been printed and reprinted hundreds of times in the intervening years. Mencken had been receiving letters of corroboration from some readers and requests for more details from others. His history of the bathtub had been cited repeatedly by other writers and was starting to find its way into reference works. As Mencken noted in “Melancholy Reflections,” his “facts” “began to be used by chiropractors and other such quacks as evidence of the stupidity of medical men. They began to be cited by medical men as proof of the progress of public hygiene.” And, because Fillmore’s presidency had been so uneventful, on the date of his birthday calendars often included the only interesting tidbit of information they could find: Fillmore had introduced the bathtub into the White House. (Even the later scholarly disclosure that Andrew Jackson had a bathtub installed there in 1834—years before Mencken claimed it was even invented—did not diminish America’s conviction that Fillmore was responsible.)

(No, dear reader, probably not correct; surely John Adams brought a bathtub with him when he moved into the White House, then called the President’s Mansion. Plumbing, hot water, and finally hot water to a bathtub in the president’s residence, were installed between 1830 and 1853, as best I can determine.)

Mencken wrote an introduction to the piece in a later book, A Mencken Chrestomathy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1949):

The success of this idle hoax, done in time of war, when more serious writing was impossible, vastly astonished me. It was taken gravely by a great many other newspapers, and presently made its way into medical literature and into standard reference books. It had, of course, no truth in it whatsoever, and I more than once confessed publicly that it was only a jocosity . . . Scarcely a month goes by that I do not find the substance of it reprinted, not as foolishness but as fact, and not only in newspapers but in official documents and other works of the highest pretensions.

There’s a moral to the story: Strive for accuracy!

So, Dear Reader, check for accuracy, and question authority.

Fact checks — what else might need to be corrected in this story?

Resources:


Optical illusions, and “Bloody Mary” images

October 24, 2010

Take a look at this.  Focus on the “+” in the middle, and describe what you see.

Troxler Effect, the purple chaser

Troxler Effect image

No, the purple dots don’t disappear, though that’s probably what you “see.”  Worse, there’s no green dot.  Your brain sees green when the purple disappears — and even when your brain refuses to let you know the purple dots are still there, it will tell you you see a green dot when the purple dots you can’t see, disappear.

So, is it so hard to understand that people might see weird things in the mirror, if they stare at their own faces for a while?

Cortical Hemming and Hawing has the full story, with a history of the Bloody Mary story.  Go see.


Chris Rock: Funny, but wrong in his slam of medical science

January 1, 2010

I usually like Chris Rock’s comedy.  He’s profane, so you can’t use it in class.  But he’s often quite witty while exposing  key problems of society.

I bumped into a YouTube video of a few minutes of Rock’s rant against doctors and science at an odd site called HealthNoob.com. On the one hand, Rock is ripping off Voltaire and others from  the 18th century who noted that doctors of that time rarely cured anyone — without antibiotics and a very incomplete understanding of the human body and diseases, how could they?

On the other hand, the idea that physicians don’t want to cure people gained considerable traction among African Americans over the past 40 years, especially fueled by comedians like Dick Gregory who, God bless him otherwise, thought most of the medical establishment conspired against African Americans at every turn.  Rock builds on that platform.  This is not a good trend.  Especially to the extent that wrong views of medicine discourage African Americans from seeking health care that could prevent serious disease until it’s too late, spreading disinformation does no one any good.

Past that, such comedy encourages crazies to crawl out of the woodwork and spread even more disinformation.  For example, in the comments at HealthNoob.com, some wag claims that DDT caused polio in the 1930s, apparently ignorant of the fact that DDT was not available for use until after 1939, and no available for use on farms until 1946.  This is grotesque urban legend.

Here’s Rock’s rant, below (not safe for work or school due to profanity); below that, the response I left at HealthNoob.com (which is “in moderation” as I write this).

Give us your views in comments, will you?  Is Rock way off base?  Is his comedy routine here more damaging than funny?

At HealthNoob.com, I responded:

January 1st, 2010 at 10:46 pm

This conversation is certainly deteriorating.

A couple of observations:

Polio is caused by a virus. No one is sure exactly where it came from, or why it wasn’t more widespread prior to the 20th century. It well may be that it was around, but harmless, until a 20th century mutation caused it to become deadly. In any case, we know it’s a virus, and that’s why and how the vaccines worked against it. It’s not caused by chemical exposure, though some exposures may insult human immune systems and make some people more prone to get the disease the virus causes.

2. We know it wasn’t DDT, too. DDT was not available for use against insects by anyone prior to 1942. Polio was rampant before then (my brother caught polio in 1939). DDT was not available for use outside the military prior to 1946.

3. Diseases cured by medical care? Streps and bacterial infections, including tuberculosis (save for the drug-resistant kinds). Leukemia. Measles, almost. Polio wasn’t counted as eradicated until very recently (if at all). Goiter and iodine deficiency ($0.15 per ton of salt to “iodize” it, and cure goiter; the cheapest public health action ever).

4. Do you want to know how good cures work? The American Dental Association pushed for fluoridation to help prevent and cure dental caries. It worked fantastically. Now dentists spend more time fixing other stuff, and dental caries is basically a disease of the past — except for those people who don’t take care of their teeth or have some other special weakness to decay. Of course, were Rock to do something on that, he’d probably complain that fluoride causes disease instead of prevents it.

5. Ever heard of Voltaire? In the 18th century, he noted that doctors never cure anyone, but just hold the hand of the patient until the patient gets better, or dies. That changed with the advent of antibiotics. Interesting to hear Chris Rock rip off Voltaire.


No, WHO is not taking over the world with swine flu scares

August 9, 2009

Turn up the craziness that is opposition to health care reform, and you get genuine, full-blown “hot zone” conspiracy wholly ungrounded in reality.

Like coathangers, hoaxes multiply in the closet!  Put ’em in the dark, they’ll invent stuff beyond your wildest imagination.  It’s a perfect storm of voodoo science, voodoo history, paranoia and just plain hysteria.

TinFoilHatArea sign

But they’ll swear it’s true.

A new hoax claims the World Health Organization (WHO) got a secret law passed to allow them to take over the world just as soon as they can get a few more people to catch swine flu.  No, really.

Under special pandemic plans enacted around the world including the USA, in 2005, national governments are to be dissolved in the event of a pandemic emergency and replaced by special crisis committees, which take charge of the health and security infrastructure of a country, and which are answerable to the WHO and EU in Europe and to the WHO and UN in North America.

If the Model Emergency Health Powers Act is implemented on the instructions of WHI, it will be a criminal offence for Americans to refuse the vaccine. Police are allowed to use deadly force against “criminal” suspects.

Through their control of these special pandemic crisis committees with the power to enact legislation to be set up most countries, the WHO, UN and EU become the de facto government of a large part of the world.

Mass murder and death will also bring economic collapse and disruption, starvation and wars – and these events will lead to a further population reduction.

Absolutely false.  WHO has no such plans.  Check with your health professionals, they’ll tell you swine flu is a real concern (even though it looks like swift action has prevented a lot of trouble so far, and may prevent a lot of ill health later).

If you made up this sort of stuff for a movie, they’d tell you “Dr. Strangelove” pushed the envelope as far as parody would go, and you should give up writing comedy, even dark comedy.

Did you notice the typographical error there in the second paragraph, where “WHO” turns into “WHI?”

That’s a DNA-style marker for this hoax.  Watch for it as it shows up at other sites where tinfoil-hat bedorned people mindlessly copy this chunk of fiction and pass it along as if it were just news about the new shopping center going in around the corner.

Much of the nuttiness appears to originate at WakeNews, from someone named Jane Bürgermeister who has grabbed .pdfs of a couple of WHO memoranda on the dangers of swine flu, and claims that instead of warnings about swine flu based on research, they are textbooks for how to use swine flu as a weapon of war against civilians.  Or it may be originating at a website she may run, Case About Birdflu (this is the url, I kid you not:  http://birdflu666.wordpress.com/) (This post, about her being fired, and with lots of “attagirls” from too-willing nutters, should be a roadmap for Prozac salesmen.)

Do not any of these people ever stop to wonder, “Hmmmm.  Curious about how this doesn’t appear on the WHO website, and how there are no links to anything that sounds even tangentially rational — I wonder if it’s true?”

Wall of Shame: Here are sites that repeated the hoax blindly, without even bothering to correct the typo (notice how few of these sites will allow you to point out an error):

Reality:  No plans to take over the world; tough plans to fight swine flu

Swine flu, more specifically the H1N1 virus, poses severe threats to real people, including you.  WHO has plans to combat the disease and its spread — laid out publicly here, for example.  There is even a Center for Strategic Health Operations (SHOC in the odd acronymical lexicon of the UN).

Preparations to fight epidemics and pandemics are part and parcel of public health operations around the world.  Almost every county in the United States has a public health office that makes plans for how to protect the local community from such diseases, and how to treat people who get the disease to help them survive.  Those who spread these hoaxes rarely know that they have people in their towns to do this work — the United Nations and WHO have no authority to intervene in these cases.

What about the Model Emergency Health Act? Proposals under that name exist — none allow people to be executed for refusing vaccinations.  As a matter of U.S. policy, almost all health legislation includes an out for religious objectors — Christian Scientists, for example, generally refuse vaccinations and much other treatment.  Jehovah Witnessses refuse transfusions.  In almost every case, those religious beliefs can be accommodated so long as the rest of us bother to protect ourselves against disease.

All of the proposals are designed to help public health officials fight disease.  Public health officials might be described as the embodiment of the name Milquetoast.  They are rarely in the forefront of your run-of-the-mill power-mad megalomaniac.  Former public health officials who rose to power in any circumstance can be counted on one hand, if there are any.  Contrast that with former religious officials, or former business executives, or former college presidents, and you begin to see reality.  WHO is not populated with people who wish to take over the world á la Pinky and the Brain.  WHO does not answer to people who resemble Pinky or the Brain in any way, either.

You may review the first (and most worrisome) draft of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act in .pdf here.  Note carefully the strong defense of the rights of individuals recognized in the preamble to the draft bill.  The 2003 version of the Model Act can be reviewed at Alaska’s site; you can also find a section-by-section analysis and other explanatory material.

This document tracks state legislative actions so far — I dare anyone to find the trampling of civil rights and lunatic claims made at the websites listed above.  If you do find troubling actions, please note them in comments here. Note well that the documents in the previous three links are maintained by officials at the State of Alaska — Sarah Palin’s appointees and public health team.  It’s unlikely that Sarah Palin would be involved in a massive, international conspiracy to imprison millions of citizens just because they are not immune to influenza.  Of course, maybe you know Palin better than I do and you think she’s a megalomaniac just looking for her chance to play Mussolini in America — but I doubt it.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are deeply involved in preparations for influenza outbreaks, and swine flu is no exception.  CDC features a page showing international preparations for swine flu; note that plans to round up recalcitrant non-inoculants for execution are not in the program.  From that page you can get to the WHO page on international preparations, and there you can link to to international health regulations on the issueWHO’s “edict” so far:

Concerning public health measures, in line with the Regulations the Director-General is recommending, on the advice of the Committee, that all countries intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.

That’s it.

There is an Emergency Committee set up to deal with H1N1 specifically. The group has met four times; here is the report from the fourth meeting, in June:

11 June 2009

DG Statement following the meeting of the Emergency Committee

The Emergency Committee held its fourth meeting on 11th June 2009.

The Committee considered available information on transmission of New influenza A (H1N1) in a number of locations in countries in different regions of the World Health Organization, and concluded that the criteria for a pandemic have been met.

Following the advice from the Committee the WHO Director-General decided to raise the level of influenza pandemic alert from the current phase 5 to phase 6. At this early stage, the pandemic can be characterized globally as being moderate in severity.

As previously recommended by the Director-General, countries should not close borders or restrict international traffic and trade.

Countries should assess their specific situation and make a timely transition from focusing national efforts on containment to focusing on mitigation measures, including appropriate non-pharmaceutical interventions.

WHO remains in close dialogue with influenza vaccine manufacturers. It is understood that production of vaccines for seasonal influenza will be completed soon, and that full capacity will be available to ensure the largest possible supply of pandemic vaccine in the months to come.

You can see that the paranoia reflected in the sites on the Wall of Shame, is unwarranted.

Coda: You gotta love the guys who quickly see a way to make a buck on this fear.  Here’s a guy who will sell you a “smartroom” decontamination unit to retrofit any room in your home to make you safe from swine flu — just $1,899! Crazy with dollar signs in his dreams.

The SmartRoom is designed to protect you and your family from all viruses and bacteria. It can be quickly and easily installed. The SmartRoom is lightweight, compact and is totally collapsible for storage.

The SmartRoom features an Ultraviolet Biological Airlock that you attach to any room entry in your home or office. The Smartroom Tri Filter Biological Filtration Unit creates a Biological Saferoom under positive air pressure or a Quarantine Room under negative air pressure.

If it were only so easy to protect from swine flu.  If only it were so easy to protect ourselves from the conspiracy crazies.

Update, August 11, 2009:  More than 19,000 tinfoil hatters (TFH) have signed a petition against WHO’s imagined mandatory vaccine campaign.  Sign a petition against a problem that doesn’t exist!

Update, September 12, 2009: See this debunking of pseudoscience anti-vaccine claims at Respectful Insolence.


Friends don’t let friends be hoaxed:  Don’t be fooled!  Share the news.

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Get the latest flu guidance for schools.


New pledge hoax slams Obama, teachers and public schools

January 29, 2009

With this blog’s occasional focus on flag etiquette and my concern for faux patriotism, I’ve been getting barbs all day on a story out of Clark County, Nevada (home of Las Vegas).

It’s a threefer of hatred, slamming President Obama, teachers, and public schools, all at once.  Plus it is rather disrespectful of the U.S. flag.

The Clark County School District calls the story “bogus!!” with the exclamation points clear.  Spokesmen for the district complain they’ve been fielding calls all day, none with details.  Their check of the district’s schools turns up nothing.

The claim is that an elementary school student wants to drop out of school after being “forced” to say the Pledge of Allegiance to a picture of President Barack Obama backed by several U.S. flags.

Bloggers fume.  “The gall!”

Press spokesmen for the district say they encourage parents to call any principal of any school in the district with any complaint.  A survey of principals finds none who knew of such a complaint.

None of the bloggers bothered to check the facts, it appears.  The story so far checks out to be a hoax.  No one can name the school, no one can name the kid, no one can corroborate the story.  

U.S.. Nevada and Clark County flags fly at Moapa Valley High School in the Clark County School District, Nevada. Wikipedia image

U.S.. Nevada and Clark County flags fly at Moapa Valley High School in the Clark County School District, Nevada. Wikipedia image

Students in Clark County schools say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning as a usual practice.  School officials were unsure whether this is done by state law, district ordinance, or tradition.  Through much of the 20th century, it was common for schools to have a picture of the sitting president in every classroom.   That tradition fell to budget cuts years ago.

What motivates people to invent such stories?  What motivates bloggers to spread stories without bothering to make the simplest check to see whether the story is accurate?  One of the things that screams “Hoax!” in this story is the complete inaction of the student and parent.  Were they worked up about it, why didn’t they bother to complain?

Here’s the wall of shame, bloggers who got suckered and repeated the story without bothering to check it out (isn’t it odd that they all seem to know exactly what photo of Obama was used, and they show it on their blogs, but they don’t know where it was used?  Isn’t it odd that they use a color photo while saying it was projected on an overhead projector, which would turn that photo into gray and white mush?):

I’ll wager that’s just the tip of a very mean-spirited iceberg of calumny.

Update, January 30 – More hate-filled spreading of the story:

Still the gullible fall, on February 1:

Nearly responsible skepticism:

I spoke again with David Roddy at the Clark County School District offices.  He confirmed that as of late this afternoon (January 30) no one had stepped forward to identify the school where the event is alleged to have occurred, nor the name of anyone involved, nor any other fact that could be corroborated to vouch for the accuracy of the story.

See “7 Signs of Bogus History.”  Notice any of these characteristics in this story’s allegations?

Update, September 5, 2009: No evidence of this event has ever been produced outside of the original two anonymous blog posts.  My investigation found no such incident in any school in or around Las Vegas, nor anywhere else.  Pure hoax.

Don’t let others be misled; spread the word:

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