Dutch Journalists Tricked by ‘Magic’ Mushroom Ban Opponents

You would think that journalists’ intelligence and street smarts prevents them from falling for hoaxes, but recent attempts to show the insanity of the Dutch ‘magic’ mushroom ban by opponents of the ban show otherwise.

Ridiculing the mushroom ban, a website called PaddoBestrijding.nl (Shroom Removal) has been created promoting a service that supposedly helps keep innocent people safe from the long arm of the law. PaddoBestrijding’s press release reports that home-, land- and gardenowners as well as nature preservation organisations risk prosecution over ownership of one of the 186 mushroom types banned in The Netherlands, starting the 1st of December. This could lead to sentence of up to 6 year imprisonment or a 740,000 euro fine.

The ban is quite controversial as I’ve stated before in the following two articles:

One of the mushrooms getting banned is the Fly Agaric, or Amanita muscaria (picture below, by Roger B.), a popular mushroom in European folklore (and in Super Mario), one of our nature’s beauties, and a popular sacrament in ritual shamanic use. Looks like the Christian Democrats are still on a witchhunt, with the aid of the Labour Party.

The Fly Agaric is one of the mushrooms illegalized in the Netherlands

It took me a second to figure out that PaddoBestrijding was an eleborate hoax, but three sections of the site really give it away and I’m stumped that journalists didn’t get the joke. Then again, the Dutch government did try to ban the use of satire once (1, 2, 3). The pages that really give the spoof away are the methods, testimonials and shroom of the month. Some translated quotes from the various pages:

ShroomRemoval about methods:

“Depending on the scale of infection and the soil type, we choose for a surface-, or a depth treatment. With the latter a fungicide is sprayed into the soil under high pressure as deep as 70 cm. Thankfully this is not always necessary and most of the time a surface spray can be utilized, after which the fungi killing substances slowly seep into the soil. Modern fungicides are extremely poisonous, meaning that only a small amount has to be used; a comforting thought.

If that last sentence doesn’t give it away, maybe one of the silly testimonials might:

“When we could access our garden again, eight weeks after the mushroom removal, all mushrooms were gone. We were warned about dead animals, but luckily it wasn’t that bad. The plantgrowth has recovered a bit by now and every now and then we’re also seeing some birds in our garden again. In a few years we will once again be able to safely eat from our garden.”

Hellooooo gullible journalists… you got it yet?! No? How about the mushroom of the month, where an opposition to the new mushroom ban is subcommunicated. Strange, for a company that can profit so much from this, no? Here it goes:

“Even though the ‘orange funnel’ (Rickenella fibula) doesn’t contain psylocibin or other related tryptamines, it has still been put on the list of banned mushroom types under the aged synonym ‘gerronema fibula‘.”

All of this, combined with pictures of people in yellow suits and gas masks spraying toxic chemicals should raise some doubts in the mind of journalists, but nope, they fell for the hoax. An eleborate and modern version of the type of jokes Provo’s played on Dutch society, which I blogged about before.

I must admit that as I started writing this article I wasn’t 100% sure about this being a joke. Since I don’t want to spread misinformation, I did some research, like any self-respecting journalist should. Through some very simple domain name research I found out that MushMush.nl registered PaddoBestrijding.nl. MushMush was selling magic mushroom growkits until the ban and talks about growing methods. So of course it is a hoax!

So far ShroomRemoval has been featured in the following media:

  • Spits (Rush Hour), one of the biggest (if not the biggest) free newspapers in Holland. [web article, newspaper clipping (from the frontpage apparently)]
  • NOS Headlines on 3FM (Radio), one of Holland’s most popular radio stations. [online, direct download]
  • FunX (Radio), popular radio station for teenagers and other people with a poor taste in music. The two DJ’s spoke with a representative of PaddoBestrijding on the air and showed particularly gullible behaviour and nauseating stupidity. ;-) [direct download]

Just shows how gullible the media is and makes one think twice about the trustworthiness of news. With one I mean me, and hopefully you too.

BasBasBas.com is about a Dutch student living in Istanbul. I regularly write about my adventures in Istanbul and travels in the region. If you’d like to stay up to date, you can subscribe to my RSS feed or get email updates in your inbox. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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2 Responses to “Dutch Journalists Tricked by ‘Magic’ Mushroom Ban Opponents”

  1. Andy Bailey Says:

    ahh, the power of teh internets at work. Anyone with a bit of skill can create a storm of controversy using the net.

    it’s a good way to get the message across. great research on your part too

  2. martin Says:

    Funnily enough I used to work in the mushroom industry and the government (bloofy Thatcher at the time) tried to ban cheaper imports of exotic mushroom. They failed, but would have been more successful with such a spoof on the internet. the power of the word on the web eh! – Great name for a website! :grin:

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