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Fake News: Man Did NOT Fake Being Deaf and Dumb for 62 Years to Avoid Listening to Wife

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 05 Mar 2019 11:58:50 Z)

Did 84-year old Barry Dawson from Waterbury, Connecticut fake being deaf and dumb for 62 years to avoid having to listen to his wife? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a Canadian entertainment website that makes a living by publishing fictional stories often involving weird crimes, bizarre sex acts or strange accidents. It is not real.

The story originated from an article published on March 4, 2019 titled "Man faked being deaf and dumb for 62 years to avoid listening to his wife" (archived here) which opened:

A man from Waterbury in Connecticut faces divorce after his wife found out that he was not actually deaf and had been faking it for more than 62 years to avoid having to listen to her.

According to the divorce papers, 84-year old Barry Dawson never spoke a single word in front of his 80-year old wife Dorothy during the decades they lived together.

Ms. Dawson learned the sign language to be able to communicate with her husband but says he was still not really communicative.

Screenshot of https://worldnewsdailyreport.com/man-faked-being-deaf-and-dumb-for-62-years-to-avoid-listening-to-his-wife/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Man faked being deaf and dumb for 62 years to avoid listening to his wife

A man from Waterbury in Connecticut faces divorce after his wife found out that he was not actually deaf and had been faking it for more than 62 years to avoid having to listen to her. According to the divorce papers, 84-year old Barry Dawson never spoke a single word in front of his 80-year old wi

The people in the photo are actually divorcing and they were married for even longer than 62 years:

67-year marriage crumbles, divorce reads like thriller with sex, greed

Published: Sunday, July 16, 2017 @ 2:33 PM - Beginning with a dream, a typewriter, a Brownie camera and rubber cement, Burt and Lucille Handelsman built a real estate empire that encompasses some of the toniest shops on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, restaurants in Delray Beach, bars in Key West and retail complexes in upstate New York.

But the divorce was not about not listening or faking being deaf:

Palm Beach's most well-known couple files for divorce after 67 YEARS

Lucille Handelsman, wife of real estate mogul Burton Handelsman, has filed for divorce citing 'irreconcilable differences' Lucille - known as Lovey to her friends - reported in court papers that she believes Burt has been having an affair with Jane Rankin, 60 She is a well-known South Florida real estate

The website World News Daily Report is a website specialized in posting hoaxes and made up stories. The disclaimer on their website is pretty clear about that even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

The site often uses images stolen without attribution from real news websites, sometimes showing real people who have nothing to do with the story, for example here:

Woman Says Newborn Photo Stolen for Satirical Fake News Story

It is run by Janick Murray-Hall and Olivier Legault, who also run the satirical Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montéal. Very often their stories feature an image showing a random crazy mugshot found in a mugshot gallery on the internet or on a stock photo website superimposed over a background of flashing police lights or crime scene tape.

Articles from the site are frequently copied (sometimes even months or years later) by varous fake news websites that omit the satire disclaimer and present the information as real.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes worldnewsdailyreport.com as:

A website that publishes hoaxes and made-up stories that are often widely shared and mistaken for news.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about worldnewsdailyreport.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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