Read at The Walrus
An article published by Atlas Obscura about soups was retracted after it was discovered that multiple details and interviews in the piece had been fabricated. The author of the article, Blair Mastbaum, had also written ten other articles for Atlas Obscura that were retracted for similar reasons.
This article has been retracted as it does not meet Atlas Obscura's editorial standards.
Blair Mastbaum, the author of the retracted article, had a social media presence and had written numerous other articles for Atlas Obscura. It was discovered that eight of Mastbaum's articles had similar retractions for fabricating details and interviews. The topics of the retracted articles ranged widely, covering subjects such as acoustic archeology and Hawaiian cultural appropriation.
Mastbaum had written ten other articles for Atlas Obscura, eight of which, it turned out, had similar retractions.
Mastbaum's final article, published in February 2023, was about the Scottish town of Moffat implementing 'dark weeks' to protect the night sky. However, it was revealed that the details and quotes in the article were completely false. This pattern of fiction disguised as journalism is not a new phenomenon, but in the digital age, it is easier to detect such fabrications with tools like Google Alerts and plagiarism checkers.
It was an astonishing volume of lies packed neatly into an 1,100-word article.