From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.
Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’
One of the latter was this report from September where a team of British scientists were convinced they had found proof of alien life, after harvesting strange particles from the edge of space. Was it the suggestion of extraterrestrials that got you clicking? Or was it the fact that this alien life was found about 27km above Chester?
You were also suppressing sniggers over the Catholic church. We reported in March that as cardinals gathered to elect the Pope, Catholic officials were breaking into a sweat over the fact that priests would share a new €23m building with a huge gay sauna. Catholicism saw you sharing again when Pope Francis apparently assured atheists that you don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven. Unfortunately the Vatican later sought to clarify his remarks.
Outrage moved you too. A story that reported how police were seizing the possessions of rough sleepers in a crackdown on homeless people was shared tens of thousands of times. Amongst the most-shared was also a report on how Islam’s most holy relics were being demolished in Mecca.
Our columnists Mark Steel and Owen Jones were popular writers on social networks too, with Steel’s brilliant satire entitled ‘The poor spend all the money. Isn’t it obvious?’ making the top twenty alongside Owen Jones’s Farewell to the NHS.
There were other stories you were sharing too (including one about how a prosthetic leg was mistaken for a paedophile). Take a look at the full list below
Top twenty most shared stories
Top twenty most shared stories
1/20 A group of five French teenagers were arrested in November after drunkenly stealing a circus llama named Serge and taking on him on a tour of Bordeaux via the city’s tram system.
2/20 Could the Pacu be coming to the UK? Now the pacu has been found in the River Seine, The Paris Prefecture of Police newsletter revealed in September. Although officers were skeptical of the tropical catch, its human-like teeth marked the species as the feared ‘testicle eating’ pacu.
The pacu fish - or, "ball cutter"
3/20 A man was bitten in his sleep by Britain’s most poisonous spider in September as hordes of the arachnid were reported to have invaded parts of London and Kent due to climate change.
4/20 The sun is set to “flip upside down” within weeks we reported in November. Although sounds like a catastrophic occurrence, there was no need to run for cover. The sun switches its polarity, flipping its magnetic north and south, once every eleven years through an internal mechanism about which little is understood.
5/20 British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows: Results from a survey for the Royal Statistical Society and King's College London published in July showed how public opinion is repeatedly off the mark on issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration.
Martin Rickett/ PA
6/20 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music': The news will either make you rejoice or sob into your mince pies. Probably the former, as Justin Bieber has announced his retirement from music on a Los Angeles radio station.
Justin Bieber in concert
7/20 MARK STEEL ON THE ECONOMY AND THE CUTS "Any glance at our society makes it obvious who’s run up all the debts; the poor, that’s who, swanning around in charity shop cardigans and galavanting on shopping expeditions like the women in Sex and the City, squealing “Hey let’s go to Poundland and buy a dishcloth”, in ways the rich can barely dream of."
Not spend any money
At home, the kitchen cupboards contain food, there is milk in the fridge and toilet paper is aplenty. You’ve already bought all your presents on the cheap, and you want a break from nightclubs and coffee shops, anyway. What could you possibly need to spend money on over the Christmas holidays?
8/20 In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis wrote a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
9/20 In September we reported how a monster Super Typhoon remained on track to wreak havoc in Taiwan and the Philippines. The scenes of devastation it wrought once it hit land we are sadly well-acquainted with now.
Super Typhoon Usagi heads west-northwest on September 20
10/20 A team of British scientists were convinced they had found proof of alien life, after harvesting strange particles from the edge of space. The scientists sent a balloon 27km into the stratosphere, which came back carrying small biological organisms which they believe can only have originated from space. Professor Milton Wainwright told The Independent that he was "95 per cent convinced" that the organisms did not originate from earth.
University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield
11/20 Bosses at Manchester Museum were left puzzled by the mystery of an ancient Egyptian statuette which - a video has revealed - seemed to turn itself around 180 degrees in its display case. ITV's Mystery Map programme claims to have solved the conundrum, backing Professor Brian Cox's explanation. Their expert Steve Gosling put three-axis vibration sensors under the cabinet, and found a peak vibration level - coinciding with movement from passers-by and traffic from the very busy Oxford Road nearby.
12/20 An entire class of children was evacuated from a swimming pool after a prosthetic leg was mistaken for a paedophile.
The swimming pool was evacuated (file photo)
13/20 The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion pound expansion. Photos taken by activists in Saudi Arabia and obtained by The Independent showed the destruction of the Grand Mosque
Photos taken by activists in Saudi Arabia showing the destruction of the Grand Mosque
14/20 MARK STEEL ON MICHAEL GOVE "As the use of unqualified teachers in free schools has proved such a success, surely the Government must extend this method to other workplaces, such as operating theatres and nuclear submarines. The Royal Navy could use the same argument as Michael Gove, insisting there are plenty of excellent candidates who could command a nuclear sub, having fired torpedoes on Modern Warfare 2, but they’re put off by the red tape of having to prove they’re “qualified”, leaving our coast unprotected."
Early learning: Michael Gove is said to have sympathy with the views of Professor Robert Plomin
15/20 A day ahead of the papal conclave, faces at the scandal-struck Vatican were even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million (£21 million) share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.
Cardinals enter the magnificently frescoed Sistine Chapel yesterday for the start of the conclave
16/20 A 15-year-old girl became a victim of an international Twitter hate mob in March after she was retweeted by Justin Bieber. Courtney Barrasford, from Hampshire, tweeted: "Not really a fan of Justin Bieber but his acoustic album is really good!" This got a retweet from the man himself, prompting envious vitriol from some of his 34 million followers.
Justin Bieber's monkey was impounded back in March
17/20 Police in north London seized blankets, sleeping bags and food donations from rough sleepers in a crackdown on homelessness in May
18/20 Vladimir Putin was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Despite Russia’s role as the main supplier of weapons to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, an advocacy group put the president’s name forward because the former KGB agent “actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet.” Putin did not win the Nobel Peace Prize.
19/20 OWEN JONES Farewell to the NHS, 1948-2013: a dear and trusted friend finally murdered by Tory ideologues. "Nothing is more gut-wrenching than watching a close friend dying in front of you. And I mean beyond close: a friend who brought you into the world, helped raise you, and was there whenever you were most desperately in need. So, spare a moment for our National Health Service. Time of death: midnight, 1st April 2013. Cause of death: murder."
David Cameron promised a 'truly 7-day NHS' in the 2015 Tory manifesto
20/20 A feminist parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” – a song that has been accused of blurring the lines between consensual sex and rape – was briefly removed from YouTube in September, leaving its creators mystified.
Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' sparked so much debate over gender inequality that it has inspired a new National Theatre play
Screenshot from the 'Blurred Lines' video
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