In January 1995, Macarthur Wheeler and Clifton Johnson robbed a bank in Swissvale, Pennsylvania. However, they had a plan to avoid detection: they rubbed lemon juice on their faces. Their reasoning was that lemon juice can be used to make invisible ink, so surely it would conceal their faces from surveillance cameras as well. They even tested this hypothesis by taking polaroid pictures of each other smeared with lemon juice, and it seemed to work.
Unfortunately, they showed up just fine on the bank's cameras, and they were identified and arrested several months later when the footage of the robbery was broadcast on a local news show.
This odd crime has an interesting postscript. The psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University read about it, and it inspired them to start thinking about the problem of stupidity: this being that stupid people often don’t realize they’re stupid. In fact, they think they’re quite smart, which leads them to do incredibly dumb things. This phenomenon (of dumb people not being able to recognize the limits of their competence) is now known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. In the journal article in which they introduced the concept, Dunning and Kruger cited the lemon-juice bandits as their inspiration.
The “Five Stages” cupcake by artist Claire Ratcliffe. It was part of the Edible Body Farm exhibit held in England back in 2016, which used culinary creations to explore the topic of bodily decomposition.
Apparently the Emmy Awards once featured a beauty queen. The 1956 contenders first below, then the 1957 queen.
December 31, 1957. Lovely Rochelle Greenblatt, 21 year old receptionist at McCadden Studios, Hollywood, was chosen 'Miss Cinderemmy' tonight (Dec. 31) and presented at midnight to the entire television industry at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences New Year's Eve Ball staged at Beverly Hilton. She was crowned as queen of the ball by actor Ronnie Burns, son of comedy star, George Burns, who coincidentally owns and operates McCadden Studios.
Invented circa 1992 by Allen Gross. It was intended to be a more humane rattrap. Instead of killing the rats, it flung them up to 50 feet into a cage or bucket. The dazed, but still living, rodents could then be either turned over to authorities or released into the wild. Noted Gross, “I didn’t want the (rodents) squashed or turned into meatloaf.”
Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Feb 14, 1992
Staunton News Leader - Feb 14, 1992
Turns out this wasn't the first rat-flinging trap to be invented. Back in 1912, a similar device debuted, also called the Ratapult. Though it wasn't intended to be in any way humane:
A metal arm, operated by a powerful spiral spring, is released, and, passing through a slot in the cavelike compartment in the manner of a catapult, it strikes the unfortunate rodent with a blow of sufficient force to break every bone in its body and hurl the carcass at least fifteen feet away from the trap, far enough away so other rats will not be warned against the trap.
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.