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Halloween special report: our scariest fact-checks!

By Bill Adair
Published on Sunday, October 30th, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.

To celebrate Halloween, we're highlighting some of our scariest Truth-O-Meter items of the past few years.

Scare tactics have a long and rich history in American politics. Opponents of Thomas Jefferson warned in 1800 that his election would mean that "murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced." Joseph McCarthy tried to frighten us about the red menace. And President Lyndon Johnson tried to scare voters with suggestions that Barry Goldwater would nuke the planet.

Scare tactics are alive and well thanks to the Internet and chain e-mails. So here's a list of some scary claims and how they rated on the Truth-O-Meter:

The Antichrist -- Perhaps nothing could be scarier than the suggestion that our commander in chief fits the Bible's description of the Antichrist. A widely circulated chain e-mail claims that "According to The Book of Revelations . . . the anti-christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal." But like so many scary stories, this one is fiction. The Book of Revelations does not say that. Pants on Fire!

They're getting rid of Medicare! -- A favorite tactic for Democrats is to scare senior citizens with exaggerations that Republicans have voted to scrap Medicare. Although it's true that Republicans have proposed dramatically changing the program for people younger than 55, the over-the-top claims ignore the details and pump up the fear. We've rated the claims False and Pants on Fire.

Your premiums are going up! -- A related scare comes from a new chain e-mail that claims the Democratic health care law will raise Medicare premiums. It says that Medicare monthly premiums will go up to $104.20 in 2012 and $247.00 in 2014 due to "provisions incorporated in the Obamacare legislation, purposely delayed so as not to 'confuse' the 2012 re-election campaigns." Another Pants on Fire.

They want to tax all transactions! -- Also along those lines is the chain e-mail that claims President Barack Obama's finance team is pushing a 1 percent tax on all transactions at financial institutions. Also a Pants on Fire!

So don't be scared. And Happy Halloween!

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Researchers: Bill Adair

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