Monday, December 17, 2007

"Giant Human Skeleton" Photo Inspires Hoax

From~National Geographic The National Geographic Society has not discovered ancient giant humans, despite rampant reports and pictures.

The hoax began with a doctored photo and later found a receptive online audience—thanks perhaps to the image's unintended religious connotations.

A digitally altered photograph created in 2002 shows a reclining giant surrounded by a wooden platform—with a shovel-wielding archaeologist thrown in for scale.

By 2004 the "discovery" was being blogged and emailed all over the world—"Giant Skeleton Unearthed!"—and it's been enjoying a revival in 2007.

The photo fakery might be obvious to most people. But the tall tale refuses to lie down even five years later, if a continuing flow of emails to National Geographic News are any indication. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

The messages come from around the globe—Portugal, India, El Salvador, Malaysia, Africa, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya. But they all ask the same question: Is it true?

Perpetuating the Myth

Helping to fuel the story's recent resurgence are a smattering of media outlets that have reported the find as fact.

An often cited March 2007 article in India's Hindu Voice monthly, for example, claimed that a National Geographic Society team, in collaboration with the Indian Army, had dug up a giant human skeleton in India.

"Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size," the report read.

The story went on to say the discovery was made by a "National Geographic Team (India Division) with support from the Indian Army since the area comes under jurisdiction of the Army." The account added that the team also found tablets with inscriptions that suggest the giant belonged to a race of superhumans that are mentioned in the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic poem from about 200 B.C.

The story went on to say that the discovery was made possible by a National Geographic team (India Division) with the support of the Indian army since the area falls under the jurisdiction of the army. "

The account added that the team also tablets with inscriptions indicate that the giant belonged to a race of superhumans that in the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic of around 200 BC

"They were very large, very large and powerful, so that they have their arms around a tree trunk and uproot", the report says, repeatedly claimed that first appeared in 2004.

Voice editor P. Deivamuthu admitted National Geographic News that his publication was of the fake reports.

The monthly, which is based in Mumbai (Bombay), published a withdrawal after Deivamuthu readers aware of the false report, he said.

"We are against the proliferation of lies and ducks," Deivamuthu added. "In addition, our readers a very intellectual class, and will not brook any nonsense."

Other blog entries such as a posting in May 2007 at a site called Srini's weblog allegedly quoting a report published in the Times of India on 22 April 2004. But a search of this newspaper archives revealed no such items.

Arabian Giant

Variations of the giant photo hoax also alleged discovery of a 60 - to 80-foot long (18 - to 24-meter) human skeleton in Saudi Arabia. In a popular, which also first appeared in 2004, an oil exploration team to have said.

Here is the skeleton has proved to be evidence of giants, which in Islamic, but as a Hindu, writings.

The Debunkers

Sites to debunking urban legends and "netlore" picked up on the various hoaxes giant soon after they first appeared.

California-based, for example, found that the skeleton image was lifted from Worth1000, the hosts photo-manipulation competitions.

Entitled "Giants", the skeleton and shoveler image had occupied the third place in a competition in 2002 as "archaeological 2 anomalies."

The picture is a creator-signatories from Canada, with the screen name IronKite told National Geographic News by e-mail that he had nothing to do with the subsequent hoax.

He added that he wants to remain anonymous because some forums debating whether the giant was real or not, their whole argument in a religious one. " It has been argued, for example, that the Saudi Arabian find was fully in line with the teachings of the Koran.

"That was about the same time that death threats and cash bonuses were against cartoonists and other professionals for the industry, things to do, such as the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed," Iron Kite wrote.

As the picture was made

Iron Kite began with an aerial photograph of a mastodon excavation in Hyde Park, New York, 2000. He then digitally superimposed on a human skeleton on the animal's remains.

The subsequent addition of a man digging, the biggest technical challenge.

"If you see, he is in possession of a yellow-handled shovel, but it is nothing to end," said IronKite.

"Originally it was the end of spades. But [it] looked like it was the exact same room as occupation of the skeleton of the temple, making the whole thing look fake.

"Now it looks like he is only with a stick, and that the people do not notice. It's funny."

IronKite also changed the color of the clothes of the man for the creation of a "single tie-in with the white-shirted peering observers from the wooden platform.

The two figures to exaggerate the extent of the skeleton, he added.

Iron Kite said he tickled that the image, lasted only about an hour and a half to create, has so much attention Internet.

"I laugh myself if some stupid guy claimed to know someone who was there, or even goes so far as to say that he or she was there when they found the skeleton was in the picture," said IronKite.

"Sometimes people seem so desperate to believe in something that they themselves lie or exaggerate their own arguments stronger."

Wanting to Believe

David Mikkelson of said such hoaxes succeed if they seem to confirm what people already inclined to believe, as a prejudice, political views or religious beliefs.

A Hoax must also be presented "in a framework that has the appearance of credibility," he said in an e-mail.

The "old giant" has the two elements, according to Mikkelson.

"He appeals to both a religious and secular vision of the world than others and more than mere fantasy science would lead us to believe," he said.

"Proof," Mikkelson added, "comes in the form of a fairly convincing pictures."

For those who may knowingly propagated the myth that Mikkelson added, the motivation was probably no different than the motivation for participation in a game of someone ringing doorbell and running away, it's an easy way to have a laugh at someone's cost. "

Alex Boese, "curator" of the virtual Museum of Hoaxes, said fake giants have a long history dating back to at least 1700.

The recent hoax reminiscent of the once famous Cardiff Giant myth, with a ten-foot-tall (three-meter) stone image dug in 1869 in Cardiff, New York, said Boese.

Many people believed that the number was a petrified man, claiming he was one of the giants in the Bible's Book of Genesis: "There were giants in the Earth in those days."

Similarly, Boese said, the last Giant Hoax "taps into the human desire for secrecy and their desire to see concrete confirmation of the religious legends."