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Divers pull giant meteorite from Russian lake
Russian divers on Wednesday retrieved the largest fragment so far of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over the southern Urals city on February 15 and crashed to the bottom of Lake Chebarkul. (Oct. 16)
The claim: NASA discovered traces of THC on a meteorite fragment
A viral hoax making the rounds on social media claims a team of astrophysicists at the University of Hawaii detected the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC, on a meteorite fragment.
„Marijuana in Space – NASA Discovers THC on Meteorite Fragment,” reads the headline of a purported article from thehealthdisorder.com, shared as a screenshot to Facebook on Feb. 23.
„A team of astrophysicists at the University of Hawaii have created somewhat of a stir within the scientific community after the discovery of trace amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a meteorite,” the post continues.
Accompanying the screenshot is an image of dancing aliens. The post has over 5,200 shares and 300 reactions. USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.
The earliest version of the claim appears in a June 2015 tweet that reads, „Space Weed! '@NASA Discovers THC on Meteorite Fragment.'” The post links to an article on Notallowedto.com. It has over 645,000 shares.
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Claim started as satire
The 2015 article claims that James Hun, a purported astrophysicist and head of the research team, joked that the discovery of THC on a meteorite „gives a whole new meaning to the term getting high.”
Dan Meisenzahl, a spokesman for the University of Hawaii, told USA TODAY that no one by the name of James Hun has worked at the university as an astrophysicist.
According to Media Bias/Fact Check, the site Not Allowed To is a questionable source that publishes clickbait news and headlines designed to be shared on social media. Many of the articles that appear there are clearly untrue and are satirical, however, there is no disclaimer of that on the site.
The site features other satirical and false content such as a hoax story headlined, „Man who died of coronavirus miraculously resurrects three days later.” Further, the site does not disclose ownership and its revenue is acquired through advertising.
The Fake News CodeX, a site created to identify sites that are fake and misleading, also describes Notallowedto.com as a „generally unfunny, clickbait-style satirical website.”
There are no news reports or authentic statements confirming that astrophysicists discovered THC on a meteorite fragment. This claim was also debunked by High Times in February 2016.
Our rating: False
The claim that astrophysicists at the University of Hawaii discovered traces of THC on a meteorite fragment is FALSE, based on our research. The claim originated on a hoax website in 2015 that does not disclose it is a satirical article. The University of Hawaii confirmed that there is no one by the name of James Hun who works at the university as an astrophysicist.
Our fact-check sources:
- Notallowedto.com, May 31, 2015, „Marijuana in Space-NASA Discovers THC on Meteorite Fragment„
- Media Bias/Fact Check, „Not Allowed To„
- Dan Meisenzahl email to USA TODAY
- Fake News CodeX, „NotAllowedTo„
- Whoisdomaintools.com, „Whois Record for NotAllowedTo.com„
- High Times, Feb. 8, 2016, „THC from Outer Space? Um, No.„
- NASA Twitter page
- NASA Instagram page
- NASA Facebook page
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