Jun 212016
 

The new horror film The Conjuring 2 is, like its predecessor, supposedly based on the “true case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren,” a real-life married pair of self-styled demonologists involved (however peripherally) in several high-profile haunted house reports, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s. It reunites writer/director James Wan with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren, respectively.

The first Conjuring film was set at a rural Rhode Island farmhouse in 1971, but this new film begins with a wholly unrelated–and far more famous–case, that of murderer Butch DeFeo who killed his family in their Amityville, New York, home. The killings really happened, and DeFeo’s defense lawyer famously tried to claim that DeFeo should be found not guilty because ghosts made him do it. The jury saw right through this flimsiest of Devil-made-me-do-it defenses but the Warrens did not, taking Butch DeFeo at his word that some unseen evil lurked in the house and compelled him to kill. The heavily fictionalized story was later made into a novel by Jay Anson and spawned a popular horror film franchise…. You can read the rest at my CFI blog HERE. 

 

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You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Mar 182016
 

I was recently guest on The Edge of the Unknown Radio show with Joshua Gregory, talking about my various investigations and miscellaneous weirdness. Check it out HERE!

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Nov 222015
 

Last month a blogger for NJ.com shared a photo of a bizarre, somewhat goatlike silhouetted winged form in the sky. Despite several obvious signs that the anonymously submitted photo is faked, it went viral and has been widely shared on social media as long-sought evidence of the mysterious Jersey Devil. My Discovery News article on the Jersey Devil is HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Nov 182015
 

Last month reports have surfaced in England of people dressed as clowns stalking and trying to abduct — or at the very least scaring — children. I gave a presentation on this topic earlier this year for the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research. My Discovery News article on it is HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Nov 082015
 

Last month a bizarre photo circulated apparently depicting a flying city in the clouds. Explanations ranged from mirage to hoax to conspiracy operations; my take on it for Discovery News is HERE.

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Oct 202015
 

I and three other experts including Susan Gerbic are extensively quoted in a new story about internet hoaxes: “In today’s fast-paced news culture, misinformation and disinformation are spread with a click, often before authenticity and credibility are verified. Sometimes it’s harmless and funny, like The Onion fooling Fox News. But in other cases, this type of behavior is not only irresponsible but also incredibly dangerous. To understand this culture of deception, Hopes&Fears gathered four experts on hoaxes, falsehoods, rumors and pseudoscience…” You can read it HERE. 

Oct 082015
 

From the Radford Files archives:

In October 2009, a six-year-old boy named Falcon Heene was thought by many to have been floating alone through Colorado skies on Thursday in a silvery weather balloon created by his inventor father. It turned out that the whole incident was a hoax, staged by his parents in hopes of getting their own reality TV show. One issue that has been lost in the story is that a lying “eyewitness” was at the root of the story.

 

The fact that a large silver balloon flew in the air was, by itself, hardly worth noting. No, what propelled the story to international importance was the first-person eyewitness account of Falcon’s brother Brad. According to Sheriff Jim Alderman, police questioned Brad several times about what he had seen shortly before the balloon flew away. “He said he saw his brother climb into that apparatus and he was very adamant, they interviewed him multiple times and that was his consistent story.” At that point the concern became for the safety of the young boy, not an escaped balloon: Had he fallen to his death? Was he still aboard the balloon? He had been abducted? Where was the child?

 

Police were skeptical, but the boy repeated his story and insisted on the truth of what he’d seen. Many people (and journalists) probably thought, “Why would a child lie about something like that?” Much is often made of first-person eyewitness testimony in our society; indeed it is the basis for most ghost, monster, and other paranormal claims. Some people have even been convicted of crimes based on little more than one person saying, “I saw this happen.” But as this case reminds us, just because a person—even a seemingly guileless young boy— swears to have personally seen something, and consistently sticks to the story, does not mean it’s true.

 

 

 

This piece originally appeared in the Briefs Briefs column in the September 2009 Skeptical Briefs newsletter.

 

You can find more on me and my work with a search for “Benjamin Radford” (not “Ben Radford”) on Vimeo.

Jun 302015
 

My new article on KFC urban legends, and how a piece of chicken can look like a fried rat, is up at Discovery News, you can read it HERE.  It’s an interesting blend of psychology, folklore, and culture…

Jan 302015
 

You may have heard that a boy who wrote an inspiring “true story” best-seller about going to heaven has admitted he made it up. I wrote an article on it, and a analysis about why many people believed it, you can read it HERE.

Aug 282014
 

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My column in the current issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine features an investigation into what was called “the most important genuine crop circle ever discovered.” I’m not convinced, and after you read my piece I don’t think you will be, either…

Apr 072014
 

Recent videos of animals fleeing Yellowstone Park have many tourists and local residents concerned that a volcanic eruption may be imminent…. I take a closer look at the story… you can read it HERE. 

Feb 082014
 

People who have stigmata exhibit wounds that duplicate or represent those that Jesus is said to have endured during his crucifixion. The wounds typically appear on the stigmatic’s hands and feet (as from crucifixion spikes) and also sometimes on the side (as from a spear) and hairline (as from a crown of thorns).

I researched the topic and wrote about it for LiveScience.com; you can read it HERE.

Dec 222013
 

Last month I appeared on the Edge of the Unknown Radio on the All 1 Broadcast Network, and talked about a wide variety of weird and non-weird things. It was a fun show, and you can listen to it HERE. 

 

Dec 202013
 

My Discovery News article on the top myths busted this past year is now up!

This past year was a strange one, with a variety of popular beliefs being busted. Some were welcome news: Other myths left a funk like a fart-filled balloon when they burst…. You can read it HERE. 

Oct 302013
 

My investigation into what is considered the best case for crop circles appears as the cover article in this month’s issue of Fortean Times magazine. You can get a copy at Barnes and Noble and elsewhere, get it before it’s sold out!

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Oct 032013
 

A mother in Utica, Ohio, has been charged with faking cancer in her 4-year-old son and profiting from the scam. Emily Creno, also known as Emily King, told friends, family and others she met via Facebook and other social media sites that her son JJ had a type of terminal brain cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma, and would only live a year and a half longer….

You can read the rest of this weird story HERE.

Jul 082013
 

If you haven’t seen the new issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, you’re missing out!

I have a feature article on plagiarism I found in a book about vampires from a famous publisher, and a column about whether accurate psychic information could have stopped the Boston bombings. You can find it on newsstands now, or subscribe at www.csicop.org.

Feb 252013
 

The story that I and many other reported on about the recent news that Melba Ketchum has sequenced Bigfoot DNA keeps getting stranger. A new piece by Sharon Hill of Doubtful News notes that a sharp-eyed skeptic found that one of Ketchum’s references is actually to a well-known April Fool’s Prank! You can read it HERE.