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Squaring the Strange

Squaring the Strange brings evidence-based analysis and commentary to a wide variety of topics, ranging from the paranormal to the political.


Investigating ghosts. Debunking conspiracies. Dodging chupacabras.

If a claim seems strange, Ben and Pascual will try to square it with the facts.


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Feb 7, 2020

There is a rich field of literary hoaxes to pull from, and for this episode we pulled a few favorites. Ben brings a selection of "misery memoirs," stories of a victim triumphing over incredible hardships (which, in these examples, are fictional hardships or fictional victims). She Said Yes and Go Ask Alice are two prominent examples of teenage martyrdom that aren't what they seem. Celestia tells tales of promiscuous bat-people on the moon, a nineteenth-century newspaper hoax, and we break down the cultural factors that contribute to the popularity and believability of any hoax. Ben ends with the heart-wrenching story of a literary version of Munchausen by proxy and the puzzling search for a very popular boy with a harrowing tale of abuse and terminal illnesses, one that moved both Oprah and Mr. Rogers.