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We won't get fooled again! Book lifts lid on tall tales that caught the world out.

Byline: Craig McQueen

IN a world full of urban myths, scams and hoaxes, it has never been more difficult to separate fact from fiction.

But a handy guide is now available to help you pick through the fake tales, half-truths and crazy legends doing the rounds of offices, the internet and the pub.

Hippo Eats Dwarf! lifts the lid on some of the larger-than-life stories that have had us hooked.

Here's a look at some of the true and false tales that shocked, entertained and fooled us... MAN FALLS PREGNANT In 2008, newspaper headlines proclaimed that a man was pregnant in the United States.

A photograph of a man sporting a large belly and stubble on his chin seemed to support the reports.

However, the reality was more complicated.

The man, Thomas Beatie, was a transgendered individual who began life as a female.

Thanks to a series of surgical operations and testosterone injections that suppressed her menstrual cycle, she became a he.

In other words, Beatie had all the necessary biological parts to become pregnant.

It was simply a matter of stopping the testosterone injections and allowing his body's natural hormones to rebalance themselves.

To male-mother purists, this wasn't quite the same as an actual male pregnancy.

Still, the media loved it and showered him with attention.

Beatie even got to appear on Oprah.

CHER HAD HER RIBS REMOVED When Cher's celebrity was at its peak, she was plagued by a rumour that she had her lower ribs removed to make her waist thinner. A 1988 Paris Match article reported the rib surgery rumour as if it were a fact. It wasn't. Cher sued Paris Match and won.

The singer and actress even hired a physician to examine her and certify he couldn't find any evidence of ribs being removed.

But Cher does admit she has had work done on her nose and breasts.

She also points out that she exercises a lot to stay skinny. SINGLE BLACK FEMALE LOOKS FOR LOVE ONLINE Hundreds of men responded to this ad that circulated online in 2003: "Single black female seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant.

"I'm a very good-looking girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pick-up truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cosy winter nights lying by the fire.

"Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond.

"I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me. Kiss me and I'm yours. Call and ask for Daisy."

Respondents found themselves connected to the Atlanta Humane Society. Daisy was a black Labrador -thead wastheworkofan anonymous prankster. BRACELETS ARE SIGN OF PUPILS' SEX LIVES In 2003, school administrators in a Florida high school in the United States banned students from wearing coloured jelly bracelets.

The authorities had heard that the bracelets indicated what sexual favours the girls wearing them were willing to perform. A national controversy ensued.

Studies were carried out, including a survey of 300 teenagers by the marketing firm Teenage Research Unlimited.

The research found that no high-school students were aware of the sexual meaning of the bracelets - apart from the rumours that had circulated about them.

CHICKEN NUGGETS AREN'T MADE OF CHICKEN Regulators in the UK recently became concerned when they detected beef and pork proteins in samples of imported chicken nuggets.

Unscrupulous manufacturers were buying cheap chicken meat and "bulking it up" by injecting it with water and the ground-up skin and bones of old cows and pigs. In some cases consumers were lucky if their chicken nuggets were 10 per cent chicken meat.

WEBSITE WARNING HAS CALIFORNIAN COUNCIL IN A SWEAT In 2004, the city council of Aliso Viejo in California found a website that listed the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide.

The site warned that this chemical was a major component of acid rain, that it corroded metal, and that its ingestion caused excessive sweating and urination.

The council officials deliberated on whether to ban products made with the "odourless, tasteless chemical".

Thankfully, someone clued them up on the truth behind the chemical before they embarrassed themselves further.

Dihydrogen monoxide is the scientific term for water.

ANGRY WIFE SELLS KNICKERS OF HUBBY'S MISTRESS ON EBAY In August 2008, a pair of women's pants was put up for sale on the online auction website eBay in Australia.

A wife had found her husband cheating with a woman - and the pants belonged to her.

The wife advertised the underwear as "tart's knickers".

She claimed she had returned home unexpectedly and found a condom wrapper on the bed and the lingerie on the floor.

Sceptics noted that the seller offered no proof that her story was true.

The underwear went for pounds 184, proving that nothing sells quite like revenge. lHippo Eats Dwarf!, by Alex Boese, is priced pounds 8.99 and published by Pan.


RIBS AND FIBS: Pregnant Thomas and a slimline Cher
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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