I got a message from an acquaintance in Sri Lanka forwarding a video that said that the BBC had reported yesterday that there had been fish raining from the sky in Mumbai, India. This is one of those things that are circulated widely and was accompanied by a message that claimed that this was proof of a miracle and of a god in action. The acquaintance who forwarded it to me (who is a Roman Catholic believer) asked me if this could be a miracle. My acquaintance likely asked me because he knows I am a scientist and since I have not had any contact with him for decades, he probably thinks I am still religious and thus likely to support his beliefs.
See for yourselves.
Apart from the fact that the claim was absurd on its face, I knew at once that it must be a hoax if for no other reason that I get the BBC news feed and had seen nothing about it. Like most things, there is a germ of truth buried in it because on occasion marine life has fallen down from the sky. It is has been suggested that when a funnel cloud passes over water, it can suck up a lot of water and fish could get caught in the updraft. Then when the funnel cloud dissipates, the fish fall down.
But this episode explains why crazy beliefs such as a flat Earth are held on to by so many people. They get these videos and messages from other believers and since it supports their existing beliefs, they do not think to question it or even do a simple check. It took me less than a minute to find a source that explained the hoax. It looks like a truck carrying large number of fish had some kind of mishap and deposited its cargo on the streets. Footage of the stranded fish was then spliced with obviously fake footage of falling fish. A similar hoax had emerged after another fish accident in China a few years ago.
It is not that we can check every single thing that we come across. But the rule that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is a useful one for deciding when one’s skepticism should kick in. And large numbers of fish falling from the sky for no reason definitely qualifies as an extraordinary claim. But people who believe such things do not want to disconfirming evidence.
I sent him the contradictory report. I have not heard from him.
But this post provides a good excuse to insert some Creedence Clearwater Revival with It came out of the sky.