Message claims that the strange result when a Windows Notepad file with the text “Bush hid the facts” is re-opened may represent a deliberate anti-Bush political statement by Microsoft.
Subject: political conspiracy?
hey this is really weird!!
type “bush hid the facts” without quotation marks
don’t press “enter” save the file
open the file again
what do you think?
This little Windows Notepad “trick” is often posted to online forums and blogs and also travels via email. When the phrase “Bush hid the facts” is typed into the Windows XP or Windows NT/2000 versions of Notepad as instructed above, the re-opened file displays an unreadable line of squares or Chinese style characters.
The first image below shows the text before closing the Notepad file. The second image shows the text as it is displayed after the file is re-opened:
Some of the more wide-eyed conspiracy theorists postulate that this result is a form of political commentary directed against US President Bush and was knowingly and deliberately programmed into Notepad by Microsoft.
Alas, the truth is far less compelling. It appears that a lot of other character strings in the pattern 4 letters, 3 letters, 3 letters and 5 letters will give the same result. For example, the phrase “Bill fed the goats” also displays the garbled text as shown below:
In fact, even a line of text such as “hhhh hhh hhh hhhhh” will elicit the same results.
Since I first published this article, a few readers have pointed out that some character strings that fit the “4,3,3,5” pattern do not generate the error. For example, the phrase “Bush hid the truth” is displayed normally. However, conspiracy theorists should not take this as aiding their argument. “Fred led the brats”, “brad ate the trees” and other strings also escape the error.
Thus, any hint of political conspiracy fades into oblivion and is replaced by a rather mundane programming bug. It seems probable that a certain combination and/or frequency of letters in the character string cause Notepad to misinterpret the encoding of the file when it is re-opened. If the file is originally saved as “Unicode” rather than “ANSI” the text displays correctly. Older versions of Notepad such as those that came with Windows 95, 98 or ME do not include Unicode support so the error does not occur.
So, nothing weird here at all…except perhaps for the fact that someone, somewhere had nothing better to do than turn a simple software glitch into another lame conspiracy theory.
Last updated: 2nd November 2009
First published: 19th June 2006
By Brett M. Christensen
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!