Things That Never Really Happened

Robbrent

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Thanks for the really interesting replies. Flight 19 happened we just don't know how it happened so its not really what I was thinking about the Ourang Medan case is a classic, it was debunked ages ago as well as the latest issue of the magazine but I can guarantee that it will turn up in some anthology in the next year or so.

The Argentine doctor case involved a couple being transported over a vast distance and not knowing how they got there, I can't remember the full details but remember reading the debunking after someone really researched it.

Sadly some of my favourite authors (Wilson and Keel) were not immune to including some of these false tales in their books
 

Austin Popper

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The Aztec UFO crash is one that I think belongs here. It's an elaborate story that took on a life of its own, but apparently is entirely fictional. There are diehard believers, of course, but the story has not so much been debunked as deconstructed. A great deal of trouble has been caused by a fairly recent book, but it's a classic example of pseudoscience. The author doggedly searches for any bit of information (real or imaginary) to prop up his conclusion, but none of it holds up to serious scrutiny. The original story has been traced to a couple of con artists trying to sell electronic hokum to would-be oil prospectors. Frank Scully took the story and ran with it. With a pedigree like that, it's bound to be colorful at least.

A long, thorough, detailed and fascinating investigation of the original con can be found starting here:
https://www.saturdaynightuforia.com/html/articles/articlehtml/anatomyofahoax-part1.html

It's a very deep rabbit hole at a remarkable web site, so take a sandwich. I hope that site has been archived. It's a treasure trove that has not been updated in years.
 

Austin Popper

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The Argentine doctor case involved a couple being transported over a vast distance and not knowing how they got there, I can't remember the full details but remember reading the debunking after someone really researched it.

I think Jacques Vallee used some contacts he had in South America to try to get more details on the story, and found there was nothing there. None of the people mentioned in the story seemed to even exist, that sort of thing.
 

catseye

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There has to be an interesting psychological shift in here somewhere. Someone, somewhere, reads a made-up story, quite often in a work of fiction (I'm not considering deliberate hoaxes here) and somehow that made-up story gets translated to being a real event. How? Misreporting or misreading, where it's made clear that this isn't a true story, but someone ignores that or gets the wrong end of the stick? Deliberate attempts to get people to believe something demonstrably (if you know the work of fiction) untrue?
 

SimonBurchell

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Decades ago I read the famous account of someone walking across a field, appearing to fall and disappearing, never to be found... Except it had turned up in a local history book, claimed as true and local but was obviously a rehash of The Difficulty of Crossing a Field by Ambrose Bierce.
 

EnolaGaia

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How about the Ourang Medan?
This enduring tale of a supposed ghost ship discovered with the crew all dead and with expressions of terror on their faces, was debunked in a recent FT as being completely fictional.
Similarly, the Ghost of Flight 401 and Santiago Flight 513, whilst cracking short stories, turned out to be exactly that - creepy fiction masquerading as true events.

Good examples ... For those wishing to read more about these cases see:

The Ourang Medan Mystery (Derelict Ship / Dead Crew)
https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...-medan-mystery-derelict-ship-dead-crew.65122/

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 (Crash; UL; Ghost Of Flight 401 Book; Movie)
https://forums.forteana.org/index.p...crash-ul-ghost-of-flight-401-book-movie.2611/

The Santiago Flight 513 (aka Pan Am 914, etc.) urban legend is discussed in the time slips thread:

Time Or Dimensional Slips
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/time-or-dimensional-slips.13755/
 

MercuryCrest

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It's actually based on a short story by Jack Finney (best know for the Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

Ah, I KNEW I'd heard that name before. He wrote "The Third Level" which is an amazing short story everyone should read.
 

EnolaGaia

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Austin Popper

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There has to be an interesting psychological shift in here somewhere. Someone, somewhere, reads a made-up story, quite often in a work of fiction (I'm not considering deliberate hoaxes here) and somehow that made-up story gets translated to being a real event. How? Misreporting or misreading, where it's made clear that this isn't a true story, but someone ignores that or gets the wrong end of the stick? Deliberate attempts to get people to believe something demonstrably (if you know the work of fiction) untrue?
This is a really interesting topic. I think a lot of times it's satire that serves as the seed. A great example of that is a TV documentary spoof called When Cars Attack. It's apparently a bit of a rarity, having aired on network TV only a few times and it was not on Youtube the last time I looked. I just happened to be watching TV one evening in the 90s when it came on. I had never heard of it, but it looked like fun so I watched it. It's a wild collection of crazy stunts from movies and other bits of video showing what look to be cars attacking people. There is a silly story about Mortimer Ford, the little known brother of Henry Ford, and his invention called the hydroscillator, which is present in every car made since the 20s or something. These hydroscillators go bad sometimes and cause the car to turn evil. Hilarity ensues.

A day or two later, I mentioned it to a friend. She had seen it too, but had swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. Now she knew very well that I came from a family of "car people" and had made a living as a mechanic myself, but she obstinately insisted that the show was a real documentary. No amount of explaining how the hydroscillator was a joke and did not exist would faze her. She probably still believes it was real. There were obvious gags in it. All that was missing was a laugh track. I think there might even have been some bits of the Keystone Cops in there. Her behavior blew my mind.

Around that same time, an acquaintance told me about his uncle's neighbor's big old pickup truck that got 35 miles per gallon or something, until some engineers from "the factory" showed up one day to replace the carburetor, since the truck had mistakenly been equipped with one for the European market. After that, the truck went half as far on a gallon of gas. I politely explained that it was a classic urban legend, always about two people removed from the teller, that there were some variations but the story was always absurd if you knew anything about cars or how they were made. He looked confused and said his uncle had told him about it, and he knew it was true. Of course if you buy a big honkin' American pickup in Europe or anywhere else, it will still be a gas guzzler. I think that guy was in law school, but it has been a long time and I'm not certain, but he was no rube. I suppose his uncle told him about his neighbor's cousin who had this big pickup that got phenomenal gas mileage until...

Edit: Oh dear! The crashfest can be watched here,
https://www.reddit.com/r/ObscureMedia/comments/a7zcd4
/when_cars_attack_1997_richard_belzer_leads_us/


It's as funny as I remember it, for the first few minutes at least, but I'm having a hard time with the idea that anyone ever really took it seriously. I may watch more of it, but it's a lot like all those dash cam compilations. Like the Blues Brothers but the footage is real. Some of it anyway. It gets to be a bit much.
 
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marhawkman

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Around that same time, an acquaintance told me about his uncle's neighbor's big old pickup truck that got 35 miles per gallon or something, until some engineers from "the factory" showed up one day to replace the carburetor, since the truck had mistakenly been equipped with one for the European market. After that, the truck went half as far on a gallon of gas. I politely explained that it was a classic urban legend, always about two people removed from the teller, that there were some variations but the story was always absurd if you knew anything about cars or how they were made. He looked confused and said his uncle had told him about it, and he knew it was true. Of course if you buy a big honkin' American pickup in Europe or anywhere else, it will still be a gas guzzler. I think that guy was in law school, but it has been a long time and I'm not certain, but he was no rube. I suppose his uncle told him about his neighbor's cousin who had this big pickup that got phenomenal gas mileage until...
I've heard that repeated as true. Of course as my mechanic uncle pointed out...why/how? His guess was that IF something like that did happen, it had a hidden downside, like half fuel consumption, half horsepower.
 

Austin Popper

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It's not a linear relationship though. Two tons of Yank Tank takes a certain amount of work to move it along, and a too-small engine will not do it as efficiently as a big one. Back in the late 70s, lots of people learned this the hard way when they bought Detroit iron with smaller engines than previously. One of my employers back then had a huge van with a boom on it, and a small six under the hood. It was a slug, and got about 7 miles per gallon. Everyone hated driving it.

American cars sold in places where fuel cost two or three times as much as here did often have less beastly engines, and they did a little better on fuel, but the difference was not huge and back then probably had as much to do with tighter emission rules here. That has changed. There are many other problems with the urban legend too.
 

marhawkman

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It's not a linear relationship though. Two tons of Yank Tank takes a certain amount of work to move it along, and a too-small engine will not do it as efficiently as a big one. Back in the late 70s, lots of people learned this the hard way when they bought Detroit iron with smaller engines than previously. One of my employers back then had a huge van with a boom on it, and a small six under the hood. It was a slug, and got about 7 miles per gallon. Everyone hated driving it.

American cars sold in places where fuel cost two or three times as much as here did often have less beastly engines, and they did a little better on fuel, but the difference was not huge and back then probably had as much to do with tighter emission rules here. That has changed. There are many other problems with the urban legend too.
Yeah, while lowering fuel use might seem good you need X amount of power to get down the road. The most fuel efficient vehicle I've heard of had fantastic fuel economy... by being made of plastic. Lower vehicle weight = quicker acceleration = less gas burned. But it's also not crash resistant so deemed "unsafe" to use on the road.
 

bugmum

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Yeah, while lowering fuel use might seem good you need X amount of power to get down the road. The most fuel efficient vehicle I've heard of had fantastic fuel economy... by being made of plastic. Lower vehicle weight = quicker acceleration = less gas burned. But it's also not crash resistant so deemed "unsafe" to use on the road.

Sounds like a Lotus! Our friend bought one during his mid-life crisis and trashed it a couple of times, practically by sneezing in it. :hahazebs::chuckle:
 

Mikefule

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The fact that something is considered a Fortean anomaly, event, experience or sighting always implies that it may or may not have happened.

Hoaxes and honest misidentifications both sometimes leave a residual level of perception that the incident happened, long after they are debunked or properly explained.

There are many cases where a deliberately fictional version of a story has become inextricably intertwined with the "actual" or "legendary" version. The genuine mystery of the Mary Celeste has been contaminated by fictional elements from the Marie Celeste version. Werewolf and Vampire lore have been heavily infected by the tropes of horror films.

However, one case that seems to me to fit the OP's question is Slender Man. Slender Man has no basis in tradition. He was made up by a known individual and was always openly fictional, and yet the character "has taken on a life of his own". There has been at least one high profile incident in which someone was stabbed by a person who "believed in" Slender Man.

Another is Sweeney Todd, the demon barber. Until quite recently, I simply assumed that Sweeney Todd was an actual historical person like Jack the Ripper or the Boston Strangler. It was only when I looked up the details that I discovered he was entirely fictional.
 

marhawkman

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The fact that something is considered a Fortean anomaly, event, experience or sighting always implies that it may or may not have happened.

Hoaxes and honest misidentifications both sometimes leave a residual level of perception that the incident happened, long after they are debunked or properly explained.

There are many cases where a deliberately fictional version of a story has become inextricably intertwined with the "actual" or "legendary" version. The genuine mystery of the Mary Celeste has been contaminated by fictional elements from the Marie Celeste version. Werewolf and Vampire lore have been heavily infected by the tropes of horror films.

However, one case that seems to me to fit the OP's question is Slender Man. Slender Man has no basis in tradition. He was made up by a known individual and was always openly fictional, and yet the character "has taken on a life of his own". There has been at least one high profile incident in which someone was stabbed by a person who "believed in" Slender Man.

Another is Sweeney Todd, the demon barber. Until quite recently, I simply assumed that Sweeney Todd was an actual historical person like Jack the Ripper or the Boston Strangler. It was only when I looked up the details that I discovered he was entirely fictional.
Slender man actually has a real world inspiration. Look up "shadow people". Sweeny Todd though? hmmm I don't know of any real killer he has more than a vague similarity to.
 

Nosmo King

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On a similar vein to 'slender man' the Rake, although mentioned in folklore going back centuries seems to have had a resurgence since the birth of YT ,going from mythical creature to living cryptid.
 

PaleoForroz

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I think Jacques Vallee used some contacts he had in South America to try to get more details on the story, and found there was nothing there. None of the people mentioned in the story seemed to even exist, that sort of thing.
Hi.I researched the Vidal Case since the eighties, revisioning the 1968 flap. Is true that Vallee published in "Passport to Magonia" the clips of that years. Casually ,meanwhile studying film writing,one of my professors put me in the path to resolving the case. The case was an spreader rumor created to support the launching of an Argentinian film ("Che Ovni"),directed by Anibal Usset. He was connected with a news agency linked with the intelligence service,who help to create the stunt,used also as psychological experiment during a period of military dictatorship. Is a complete article in a Fortean Times' s issue from a couple years ago.
 

Cochise

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'Springheel Jack' - a pure media invention?
 

EnolaGaia

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PaleoForroz

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Yes ... That was the conclusion in this 2007 online article:

Argentina: The Vidal Case Exposed
https://inexplicata.blogspot.com/2007/02/argentina-vidal-case-exposed.html
All the sources used by "Inexplicata" were discovered by my work in 1982 when I interview the film director,but already I hinted that the case was false as nobody could find direct family members of a very common family name. My research was followed by younger then ufologist Alejandro Agostinelli who also passed the info to Luis Gonzalez. I never published my research until recently in a book wrote in the eighties but published last year: OVNIS:LA CONFRONTACION FINAL/UFOS IN ARGENTINA: THE FINAL CONFRONTATION.(Matrioska Ediciones,2021,Spain)
 

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SimonBurchell

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Definitely a product of hype, Chinese whispers and creative fabulation.
It's a little more than that. It seems the term "spring-heeled jack" was more of a generic term for a type of ghost or apparition, sort of like boggart. It was only toward the latter half of the 20th century that the Fortean publications publicised Spring-Heeled Jack as a single entity, though there may have been earlier scares and panics.
 

catseye

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It's a little more than that. It seems the term "spring-heeled jack" was more of a generic term for a type of ghost or apparition, sort of like boggart. It was only toward the latter half of the 20th century that the Fortean publications publicised Spring-Heeled Jack as a single entity, though there may have been earlier scares and panics.
Through the process of conflation, possibly. The same kind of mechanism that has 'my neighbour had a ghostly monk appear in their house' 'I know someone who had a ghostly monk in theirs!' and, whoops, it becomes the SAME 'ghostly monk' that just gets about a bit.
 

Coal

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Through the process of conflation, possibly. The same kind of mechanism that has 'my neighbour had a ghostly monk appear in their house' 'I know someone who had a ghostly monk in theirs!' and, whoops, it becomes the SAME 'ghostly monk' that just gets about a bit.
Maybe it's a Wheeler–Feynman ghostly monk, that is, that all ghostly monks are actually manifestations of a single ghostly monk moving backwards and forwards in time...
 
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