Sunday, February 12, 2012

If it's not a hoax, what is it?

Dennis O'Connor and I are running a "Model Lesson" workshop tomorrow at the Midwest Educational Technology Conference in St. Charles, MO.

As part of the session, we're offering up four different challenges that demonstrate search and evaluation techniques. For this, we're using a spin-off of the RYT Hospital site:

While students may not be able easily to detect the fictive nature of the site, the site is loaded with Red Flags.

What is not easily understood by seasoned investigators--and I expect most of the participants in tomorrow's session--is whether the site is a hoax or not. There is sufficient evidence to suggest it is not a hoax, contrary to numerous .edu sites that include genochoice on their hoax lists. The hoax theory starts to unravel the more you tug at it.

But if it isn't a hoax, what is it?

That's the challenge.

And it's a pretty good (i.e., deep) one. I'd like to hear readers' opinions on it. Why does this site exist?

By the way, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus is another site that is likely in this shadowy category. Sure, it's bogus. But what is the purpose of the site?  Why would someone go to the trouble of keeping it fresh and perpetuating the fiction of a tree octopus? If you've never asked your students to figure that out, they've missed a real investigative challenge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Tree Octopus site is part of a larger site that strikes me as a contemporary version of the 'Alien Abduction / Monster From the Deep' style of pulp true-story magazine (I'm sure there's a more correct nomenclature, but I'm not a student of pop culture history).