The title seems to give it an out by not having to admit all it's stories are true. The skeptic in me thinks that some of the stories are knowingly false. Is there any info out there that says either way?

  • Every source I've ever seen says all the stories are true. Further, Ripley based his reputation on that fact. It would be pretty stupid to show knowingly false things. That said, key word there is knowingly. Ripley's has been taken in by hoaxes before. That doesn't mean that Ripley's themselves knew they were hoaxes, but rather the items appeared to be true at the time.
    – Tim
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:13
  • 1
    I'm unclear what you're asking for. as far as I know most things on the show were actually real. however, the only REAL way to truly answer the question as to what was and wasn't true would be to do an episode by episode analysis, which is just too broad for this site.
    – DForck42
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:18
  • 3
    The phrase "believe it or not," in common parlance, does not admit that some things presented might be false. Just the opposite, it asserts that all things presented are true, whether you can believe it or not. In other words, they expect the audience to sometimes say "I don't believe that's true!" But actually, it is. Notwithstanding the occasional time that the folks at Ripley's themselves are fooled, as Tim points out.
    – Steve-O
    Jan 24, 2017 at 22:47
  • I think you are confusing it with the other show featuring a second tier ex-prime time actor, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction.
    – cde
    Jan 25, 2017 at 0:00
  • This questions would do better on Skeptics.SE
    – Mennyg
    Jan 25, 2017 at 3:34

1 Answer 1


According to this, it seems as though his intention was to only put forth true tales.

Ripley claimed to be able to "prove every statement he made" because he worked with professional fact researcher Norbert Pearlroth, who assembled Believe it or Not!'s array of odd facts and also verified the small-town claims submitted by readers. Pearlroth spent 52 years as the feature's researcher, finding and verifying unusual facts for Ripley; after Ripley's death, for the King Features syndicate editors who took over management of the Believe it or Not! panel.

Unfortunately that's unsourced. This article mentions these things:

Despite Ripley’s avowal that everything in his cartoon was absolutely true, many readers simply refused to believe him, and they wrote letters, sometimes thousands each day.


He started by making a salesman’s pitch to his new readership, promising that his Believe It or Nots “are all true,” and if any readers questioned the facts, he’d “prove the truth” to any doubters.

He also hired someone specifically for research/verification:

When it came to cartoons featuring some math, science, or history puzzler, Ripley increasingly relied on the help of a silent partner, Norbert Pearlroth, a former banker and accomplished linguist with a near photographic memory. Ripley had hired Pearlroth in 1923 as a part-time research assistant.

So, it appears his intent was to just present strange stories that didn't sound true, but that he could back up.

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