Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Search Challenge (10/29/14): See anything odd about these sites?

YOU have to stay ALERT.  

The internet is full of amazing, fascinating, incredible stuff.  And that's the question for today: credible?  Or incredible?  

Watch your step.  There are dragons in the world.  

Here, for your contemplation, are three really interesting sites.  For each site, the question is the same:  What strikes you as odd about this web site?  If you run across this site, what triggers you to dig a little more deeply into what's going on here?  

See anything odd about these sites?  

RYT Hospital
1.  RYT Hospital  A new hospital describes its services.
Is this a real hospital?  How can you tell one way or the other?
What tells you that it's real?  Does anything make you suspicious?

2.  Ann Kirkpatrick runs for re-election.
Does anything strike you as odd about this site?
What can you do to verify that it's an accurate site?
Is it? 

3.  Dihydrogen Monoxide  Some chemical compounds are deadly.
Is dihydrogen monoxide inherently dangerous?
How would you know? 

Please leave your analysis in the comments below.  Don't just say "it's obviously bogus" or "it's obviously correct."  Say WHY you think that, and what research steps you took to validate / invalidate the claims of the site.  

And say what--if anything other than being on the "Search Challenge" page--led you to question its authority!  

Search on... credibly! 


  1. Anne and I actually use 2 of these sites when we teach website evaluation to our high school students. We teach 2 evaluation methods either the CRAP detection methoc (Current, Reliable, Authoritative, and Purpose) or the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, Why?). RYT meets the current test because it is updated daily. But then it gets trickier. When we evaluate the site with students we notice that the links don't lead back to research articles.There is an address but no phone #. If you look up the hospital there is no such hospital and you find it is a hoax. The only link on the site refers back to information on male pregnancy. If you look the site up on you find out that the site is owned by Elizabeth Preatner, MD. whose address is the hospital. From using this site in the past I know it used to be listed as being owned by a Virgil Wong who set the site up as a project for a course. So we looked up Elizabeth Preatner to get more info on her. The only info on her leads back to this site. There is also a link to an ABC news cast on an April Fools hoax as well as a link to a book in Google Books called: Teaching Information Fluency: How to Teach Students to Be Efficient, Ethical ...By Carl Heine, Dennis O'Connor. There is a whole section on this site. The lesson to learn from this site is even if it looks glitzy and glossy and up-to-date if things don't look right you need to investigate further. This site didn't pass the R- reliable, nor the A- accurate test. And if the Purpose was really to give you information about an actual hospital it didn't do that either.
    For the 2nd site: Neither of us were familiar with the site which at first appears to be the official website for this candidate. But then you notice that the site is actually trying to convince you to NOT vote for her. looking the site up in you find the registrant is: Registrant Name: Christopher Hanks
    Registrant Organization: NRCC
    Registrant Street: 320 First St., SE
    Registrant City: Washington
    The NRCC is the National Republican Congressional Comm. So what appears to be a candidates home page is in actuality put up by the opposing party.
    The 3rd site is another one we use with classes. Again using the CRAP method it passes the current test as it also is updated daily. But then if you look at the site there are lots of ads, and other distracting links including one about South Park. If you click on the links they only lead back to information put up by the site with the exception of the CDC link which does link to that organization. But it has nothing to do with the dangers of DHMO. Some of our students figure out pretty quickly what DMHO is, but since many of them haven't had Chemistry yet, Anne and I have to walk them through the process so that they realize it is water! The site says it is created by Tom Way which is confirmed by a search on When you do a search on him you find he is a prof. of computing science at Villanova who created this fake website to teach about digital literacy.
    We also have used the site which may at first glance be even less obvious (esp. to a young student) hoax site.
    We struggle in teaching this to our students, many of whom are only too willing to just take the first results in their search without questioning the validity at all. We have used the site and still have students think that it is a valid site for research even after showing them how to evaluate a website!

    1. excellent write up/explanation, well sourced - am curious how you found/started to use the two sites initially in the verification/validation work you do with students? can there be virtual experience that corresponds with dealing with a "real world" used car salesman? In other words, is there any substitute for being bamboozled to understand what the bamboozle experience is and how to detect and avoid it in other circumstances? What is the nature of being innocent and/or gullible?
      How and when is veracity a virtue or vice and to what degree is parsing immobilizing/destructive?
      see comments
      deep learning/image recognition
      other examples
      used this query

    2. Remmij I believe Anne and I found these sites on a library listserv at first. The HIV site we mention also came from that listserv. I heard about the MLK site from my mentor, the former librarian at our high school. What is scary is how many students do believe these sites!

    3. thanks Debbie G and Anne - will be interested to see if Fred weighs in with his ed expertise/experience…
      MLK dot org
      stormfront info wiki

    4. Debbie and Anne, your post is very good as Remmij said. CRAP detection method is very good tool. About 5 W's, it is a tool that we use also in engineering. We just add 2 H: How and How much.

      Also, tried different ways to identify sites. For example.

      [] and [] The first gives this result: "Fake Candidate Websites Are the New Political Attack Ads"

      The second, didn't work as I remembered it will.

      https is another way, I think, to verify if something is real.

      I also found searching this tool:
      Google SafeBrowse report

  2. For Ann Kirkpatrick: the text itself is highly negative; this suggests that Kirkpatrick herself did not write it. I know that political advertising is required to identify its funding sources. At the bottom of the site is this notice: "Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee."

  3. synchronicity - DrDon [odd or not odd], curiously as I was checking (and donating to - the internet made me do it…) the site -
    Feb 7
    Feb 5
    and here:
    also Feb 7
    ♢THEN ran across this, also on Wil Wheaton's tumblr - is this familiar… and REAL?
    67P/Fuji san
    scale - why Fuji? why not
    everyone has to arrive at their own truth… and they should know and understand how they got there — Google Maps perhaps

  4. #1 RYT Hospital
    When new tab opened it refers to site as [My CMS].

    Layout is quite poor.

    Functions aren’t working properly. eg. “Next image” link, menu headings.

    Setting aside that this is a challenge I wouldn’t spend two minutes on this site because it doesn’t function well.

    For our challenge-

    Enter given address with postal code in Google Maps - no hospital

    Query [new york hospital 10013] not listed.

    Query [RYT Hospital] Museum of Hoaxes

    #2 Ann Kirkpatrick
    Did Google Image Search on cropped image of Ann Kirkpatrick & it linked me to Questionable illegal activity.

    Query [NRCC] Wikipedia reports embezzlement & several links at the Wikipedia site suggest questionable actions on the part of NRCC.

    The language of the site concerns me as does the large DONATE which is the real message here.

    #3 Dihydrogen Monoxide
    Noticed [Note: content veracity not implied ] and didn’t know what it meant.
    Accuracy in Evaluating Web Resources. There is the DHMO website front and center as an example.

    My next step would be to go to a government agency. The US Environmental Assessment Center link top left redirects internally within the site.

    Also I didn’t see any sources that I would have checked out in Google Scholar.

    Who is Tom Snow and what qualifies him to make these statements?

    Requesting donations for a research site? T-shirts?

    Wikipedia tells us that this hoax has been around since 1983

    1. It’s great to hear that students are being taught how to assess websites. Thanks to all the librarians and teachers doing this work. Also thanks for the reminder to use

      I wanted to see if there were more tools to help detect these type of websites. This article is a good start at Lifehacker. Take the test and see how well you know your stuff.

      In this article there was a link to and I must admit there are some settings within the Privacy>Content Settings that I have just left on default as recommended.

  5. Hello Dr. Russell and everyone. Good Day!

    Question 1.

    Is this a real hospital? How can you tell one way or the other? What tells you that it's real? Does anything make you suspicious?

    A. It is a Hoax.

    When I first visited the site, noticed that the tab says: "My CMS". That is the first clue that is not a real thing.

    After that, contact us, gives an address that doesn't look real. Does't have links to medical sources and credible medicine sources. In about us, the photo is too vague and in no site mentions the name of the hospital.

    Doing a search after that, several links mentions too that it is a hoax.

    Question 2.

    Does anything strike you as odd about this site? What can you do to verify that it's an accurate site? Is it?

    A. At firs sight, looks real and I think it is not. Odd is that they ask for money and your email asking you to join but against the candidate. That I think is a red flight.

    Wot chrome extension is red. Users mention that is a scam.

    Searched the site with Whois Owner is Nrcc. That is different party of Ann Kirkpatrick.

    Question 3.

    Is dihydrogen monoxide inherently dangerous? How would you know?

    A. It is not dangerous. It is water.

    In the bottom of the site says: Note: content veracity not implied and copyright Tom Way. That gives us a clue that is something to verify.

    Site doesn't include links nor mentions agencies that relates to dangerous substances.

    Doing a search [Dihydrogen Monoxide] we find that is a hoax that uses a chemical name that sounds unfamiliar to
    make people worry.

    1. I suppose water could be dangerous. It has killed many people (sinking ships, drownings, etc.)

  6. A website making extraordinary claims needs extraordinary proof.

    Ryhospital fails instantly when I see the claims so do a search on the thing and up pops
    Center for Bioethics and culture Network

    which points out that it is an art project by Virgil Wong. More similar searches prove this and even the Welcoming address on the ry site explains whats going on. The male pregnancy video is hilarious.

    Kirkpatrick: Closing the Grand Canyon is the tip-off for me and so simple searching proves its bogus.

    Dihydrogen monoxide stuff has been around for many years. Bogus. It even says right on the home page "content veracity not implied" And, no, water is not inherently dangerous.

    jon tU

  7. 1. The first one is difficult to navigate but that isn't always indicative of a bogus site. I only went as far as the male pregnancy page before leaving. That was a bit ridiculous.

    2. It looks legit. I have heard many TV ads that use the same disclaimer that they aren't supporting any candidate but are paid for by the NRCC. As to shutting down the Grand Canyon - while it sounds bogus - it is a National Park and they were closed last year during the government shutdown that was largely a fight over the Affordable Care Act (aka Obmamcare).

    3. Bogus. There is a link for press kits in the corner that says "Press Only" but the username and password are visible. But the most obvious is that this is pure water. I realize in some places (such as a nuclear reactor) it might not be safe to drink the water but generally speaking...

  8. The first site showed its true colors when I saw the male pregnancy part. I had seen this claim before as a stand alone several years ago as a hoax.

    The second site was also familiar after seeing several posts about it tricking people who were for the candidate into donating money for the opposing side. Also, since I receive the search challenges via email, the link showed a red dot from Web Of Trust. The link gets a warning for trustworthiness and child friendliness from the service.

    I had seen the DHMO thing before as well. I had seen it as an anecdote about a student who had created a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide.

  9. Other bogus Web sites that annoy me. Hotel copycat sites that look enough like the real thing to trick you into make your booking thru them. The ones I have been tricked by have actually made the booking but charge way above the best deal I could have got myself by phoning the front desk. So, now I only phone.

    The other bogus web fraud are the so-called reviews. A clever person, I think Malcolm Gladwell, reported that those who studied these figure that about 1/3 are phoney. Airbnb is a good example of editing out unfavourable reviews and adding phoney good ones. (personal experience here). Now I see a hotel is going to charge customers who post unfavourable reviews.

    Watch out !

    jon tU

  10. I didn't visit the sites themselves, just evaluated them based on the screenprints of the front page. Here's what jumped out:

    RHT: "all the miracles of modern medicine". No single hospital can offer *all* the miracles of modern medicine, and no reputable one would make such a claim. Especially a hospital that I've never heard of (and I've had reason to become familiar with the names of major hospitals globally). Another thing (which I probably wouldn't have noticed if the website had come to my attention in my normal course of web browsing) is the weird combination of graphics - an image of a doctor/nurse with what looks like an image of xrayed breasts smack in the correct spot where her own breasts would be!

    Kirpatrick: The "Kirkpatrick for Congress" text is contradicted by the body text. And the body text is mean and spiteful. Plus there's that big donate button.

    DHMO: the very look of the page screams "spam"; have come across countless obvious fake websites that have a similiar look. The colours and fonts, unrelated advertising, visible username/password, prominent VISA card/Store links. I didn't pick up on the 'DHMO=water' bit (but would have if it had been written H2O! I would, am sure I would!).

  11. Replies
    1. Fred - maybe something by the other Homer, not the Springfield nuclear plant tech -
      October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys
      not quite the age range or even a book, but an interesting story for the other gender… actually both should work for both…
      engineer entrepreneur

    2. Thanks remmij for replying to my request for help (although still a bit off replying here ;-)
      Those are all a bit high for our students and this project.

    3. Fred, man, you are up early for a SA…even if that is PA/MV time —
      I'm predominately a bit off - this just seemed the most expedient channel available… to me (?_?)
      sorry they didn't work… :-|
      back to my nappy - it's tiring trying to be highly dEfective (Homer definition).