Talk:Paul is dead

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Former featured article candidate Paul is dead is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
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List of "clues"[edit]

I apologize if this issue has already been settled in all of the preceding posts, but I don't think I have the time to read through all of them....

I agree whole-heartedly that this article is not the place for a myriad of "clues," especially since this could very easily degenerate into a mess of individual opinions about how you can interpret a particular lyric, photograph, etc. Nonetheless, as this is a very well-known urban legend, and one of the more unsual bits of Beatles lore, would it be possible to have a separate article that was a list of supposed clues? It would have to be monitored fairly closely, to avoid becoming a in the end, maybe it would be more trouble than it's worth...any thoughts??? PurpleChez (talk) 19:34, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

You have accurately summarized the entire history of the issue. A list of "clues" was once part of this article; it grew so unwieldy that it was pulled out into a separate article (figuring out what to call that article was a tough one - List of Clues That Show Paul Is Secretly Dead Even Though He Isn't or something like that) which turned into such a cesspit of fanboy/conspiracy/I-was-once-told-something/joking glop that it was killed by an AFD vote. (It even included "clues" from songs recorded *before* Paul supposedly died!) If you want to restart it, please be prepared to devote most of your wikipedia time to patroling it! - DavidWBrooks (talk) 21:09, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I laughed out loud reading your post. I've gotten a kick out of the whole Paul is Dead thing since I was a young fan in the late 70s. But your wise counsel makes it appear that it would all be more trouble than it's worth. The existing article could always link out to other sites with lists...maybe it already does. Either way...thanks for the input!!! PurpleChez (talk) 17:30, 1 June 2012 (UTC)
Happily, today he just "proved" he isn't dead, yet again. What's significant about the whole episode is that people were so concerned, the conspiracy theorists came out and were able to get a wide hearing. People were that afraid of losing him.
While it's a good textbook example of how uncertain information can run away with you, I do think the details are overdone. (talk) 05:15, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Reading this I can understand why a comprehensive list of clues isn't feasible, but there are such things as notable clues. The Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove that played backwards says "Will Paul come back as Superman" (it's on YouTube, you can hear it for yourself or find an MP3 of it and play it backwards with software), or the "clues" on the Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road covers. Just adding a list willy nilly is a bad idea because anyone could just say "well I saw this..." but there are clues that have received non-trivial media coverage, as well as reference in biographies, histories of the Beatles, etc. I don't see why a list couldn't be placed here by simply following the sourcing criteria Wikipedia already has in place. (talk) 17:57, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

(A) no it doesn't - you've been fooled by pre-loaded auditory suggestions. If somebody had told us it said "My toe runs backwards often" then we'd hear that - it's how those ghost-hunting people rig the game ... (B) the topic of listing "clues" has been discussed often and many alternatives have been tried, including a separate article. The current situation has been consensus for quite a while. This doesn't mean it can't change, but it require a lot of discussion and effort to change it. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 00:21, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
I tried your pre-loaded auditory suggestion, "My toe runs backwards often," and it doesn't work. All I hear is "will Paul be back as Superman." And quite clearly. In contrast I hear nothing intelligible when the clip is played forward. Though if somebody has an auditory suggestion for that I'd be happy to try it. (I'd always wondered what the purpose or meaning of that short segment was about.)
This is a new clue for me (I thought I'd heard them all. The reasonable ones, that is.) Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
(And no, I don't believe Paul is dead. I do, however, believe that most the clues were intentionally done, to increase sales or add intrigue. It's pretty obvious that's the case, and one of the songs pretty much admits it.) SDLarsen (talk) 16:25, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
I just listened to it again, more carefully and slowed down to half speed. It could easily be either "now will Paul be back as Superman" or "now we'll all be back as Superman." (In other words, the "p" is Paul is not strongly enunciated.) I think it's the former because the latter would require the plural "Supermen," but is clearly the singular "Superman." SDLarsen (talk) 16:56, 16 July 2015 (UTC)
Paul himself has spoken about the backmasking of Sgt. Pepper's Inner Grove, but as such that in Fall 1967, a fan came up to him and asked him about the "naughty stuff in there once you hear it backwards". Paul didn't believe him and the fan played it backwards for him on tape, and it sounded like "We fuck you like Superman!" Paul was utterly shocked. So yeah, many people hear "Superman" in there, but even if I try very hard, I can't hear "Will Paul come back as Superman", especially because the consonants are just not there. It only sounds like "ee-aw-yoo-ike Superman".
While Sgt. Pepper's Inner Groove is controversial as a supposed "clue" in how it takes a lot of imagination to read into it what you're quoting and even what it's supposed to say hardly talks about death, there is a much more notable incident that's been written about, and that is when you reverse Julia from the White Album, it sounds clearly like "Paul is dead, man. Miss him, miss him, miss him!", much more than Sgt. Pepper's Inner Goove does ever sound like "Will Paul come back as Superman?" My guess is that either it's a sheer coincidence, or John was making a morbid joke in reference to the early appearance of the rumor from 1967. After all, it's the same album where they spoofed the deep study of their lyrics with Glass Onion. --2003:71:4E07:3E36:6DF2:D4BA:45EE:CA19 (talk) 13:26, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Get a non-English-speaking person to listen to any of these after telling them that it contains hidden messages, and they'll hear something in their own language. It's auditory pareidolia. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:37, 27 November 2015 (UTC)

While it's clear that a list of clues is unfeasible (and I think that even the "Clues" section as it now stands is tempting fate), it seems to me that the "Beginnings" and "Growth" sections could be expanded just a bit to include a few more of the clues cited by the original Drake Times-Delphic and Michigan Daily articles and mentioned on the Russ Gibb and Roby Yonge radio broadcasts. This would cover most of the well-known clues, provide their origin (as far back as can be traced), be properly sourced, and be self-limiting: cited clues would have to be tied to a source that was significant in terms of the origination and early development of the legend. I think this approach would give more information to the person looking up the page who has heard vague rumors and a few commonly-known clues and wants to see what their origin is. Schoolmann (talk) 15:48, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

Remember, the clues don't actually exist. The Beatles or George Martin or whoever-you-want did not put odd pictures or rebuses, backwards comments or mumbled noises, or anything else in or on their albums pointing to Paul being dead. The cited "clues" are after-the-fact imaginings by fans or people trying to sell magazines or the slightly delusional. Trying to get too analytical about them is - well, tricky. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:56, 5 January 2016 (UTC)
Note: My above comment was also responding to another comment about analyzing clues, which the poster subsequently removed. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:06, 6 January 2016 (UTC)
Alleged clues, then. I'm in agreement that none of these things were intentional on the part of anyone to suggest or support this rumor. But anyone interested in this subject at all is going to be interested in the various items that have been cited to support the rumor. Someone wondering, "I've heard that there are clues to Paul being dead on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. It's all rubbish of course, but still, I wonder what they are?" may turn to this article to find out--and won't. Schoolmann (talk) 16:34, 6 January 2016 (UTC)
The difficulty for wikipedia is establishing a hierarchy of legitimacy, explaining why we would mention these two imagined things but not those 17 other imagined things. There's no official source about which clues are more important than others, which is why various editors in this Talk have mentioned many different ones. As you suggested, listing "clues" cited by the very earliest publications to mention this folderol is one approach, although sourcing old radio shows is hard. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 21:40, 6 January 2016 (UTC)
But even that idea, I find, gets out of control almost instantly: Check the very first article in the Michigan paper and you'll see it's got a dozen "clues" listed, a panoply of silliness that would not only create an unreadable paragraph but would draw every "wait, THIS clue is more important!" addition in the world. So you'll end up with editors choosing which of the "clues" they think are the most important, which gets us back to where we started. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:03, 7 January 2016 (UTC)
Okay, just an idea. For what it's worth, I would have considered doing this in conjunction with jettisoning the "clues" section entirely. Therefore, mentioning the clues would have been strictly a matter of historical data, and not an invitation for people to take flights of fancy. And let's not forget: it may all be "silliness," but the alleged clues were what the rumor was actually about. It's like having an article about leprechauns but avoiding talking about leprechauns because we don't believe leprechauns exist. Schoolmann (talk) 13:01, 8 January 2016 (UTC)
Go for it, then - but as I noted, limiting it to historical references still involves a ton of items, as well as the difficulty of sourcing old radio shows. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:53, 8 January 2016 (UTC)

A new version[edit]

World News Daily, <wink, wink> Yngvadottir (talk) 22:38, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Just to be clear, World News Daily Report is a fictional news site and none of its content can be included in this article. Ringo Starr never said anything purported by that web site and no such interview ever took place. Piriczki (talk) 13:59, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, hence wink, wink. Yngvadottir (talk) 17:55, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Poe's law detected : -) Face-wink.svgJonpatterns (talk) 19:21, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

I have to ask[edit]

This has been bothering me. Assume for a moment that the article is true: that Paul died and the Beatles decide to cover it up. Then why in God's name would they leave clues about it? What do the believers in this conspiracy theory claim in answer to that? Kimpire (talk) 10:04, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Don't bring logic to this party, my friend - you will be very lonely. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:14, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
One explanation was that they were testing the fans' perceptiveness. Another was that they were breaking the news slowly to save fans from overwhelming grief. Look at what happened when they just blurted out that Zayn was leaving One Direction, you can't have that. Piriczki (talk) 22:03, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
If by "explanation" you mean "wild, groundless flights of fancy" then, yes, those are explanations. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 23:02, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
Do you have sources for those explanations? Because I think it's a large hole in the article (not to mention the theory ;) ) and would be valuable additions. Perhaps a "Why they left clues" sort of subsection. Kimpire (talk) 04:32, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
There is a hole in the article, perhaps, but not in the theory; in the context of such conspiracy theories concerning the alleged actions of the Illuminati, there is an element of Satanic philosophy termed "Satanic mockery", whereby the acting entity (in this case MI5, according to the Paul is dead theory) would have been deriving morbid satisfaction/amusement from blatantly, arrogantly hinting at what they had done. WikiEditorial101 (talk) 23:39, 28 May 2016 (UTC)

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Conspiracy theory vs. urban legend[edit]

A conspiracy theory, of course, is a hypothesis that offers a conspiracy as an explanation—an urban legend is a tale, and is not by definition conspiratorial in nature. Paul is dead is a conspiracy theory, as it rests soley on the alleged/proposed basis that some group conspired to replace Paul McCartney; urban legends are stories, and though urban legends share the characteristic of not being proven/known to be real, urban legends do not characteristically involve deception or conspiritorial acts, nor do they characteristically offer any form of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, in an attempt to prove that said tales were factual accounts; hence the entire concept of an urban legend, which is a story some guy tells in a bar that he heard from some other guy somewhere; an urban legend is easily distinguishable from a conspiracy in that urban legends are not based on even disprovable reasoning or assertions, but on no attempts to provide evidence to support assertions of factuality at all. I have removed any mention of "urban legend" from the lead and have left "conspiracy theory" as it was. I encourage any discussion here. WikiEditorial101 (talk) 21:20, 31 May 2016 (UTC)

Good points all. An urban legend is, by nature, vague about its origins and parties involved. "Paul is dead" is very specific and an allegation of a conspiracy by very specific people. --Escape Orbit (Talk) 22:39, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
By the time the "Paul is dead" rumor gained widespread notoriety in 1969, it had been over two years since McCartney had supposedly died. This begged the obvious question—what about all the public appearances and music created by McCartney over the past two years? There were three primary explanations offered for this inconvenient truth. One was that Paul was dead and had been replaced by a look-alike. Another was that was Paul was not dead and the Beatles were perpetuating a hoax. The other, the one shared by most rational people, was that Paul was not dead and that the supposed clues were the product of some very vivid imaginations. And those rational people that do consider one of the former explanations mostly do so as a fanciful diversion or light entertainment without any serious belief they are true. The treatment of the rumor as form of mild amusement likens it more closely to an urban legend than a conspiracy theory which generally portends something far more sinister. From 2006 to 2014, the lead sentence read "'Paul is dead' is an urban legend..." That version was stable for 8 years and over 3,000 edits which can be assumed to be a form of consensus. The additional text "and a conspiracy theory" was added by an anonymous IP without explanation in 2014. Since the urban legend contains elements of a conspiracy theory, that addition was not unreasonable. However, to identify the rumor as a conspiracy theory rather than an urban legend is misleading.
Also, the first sentence of the section Paul is dead#Beginnings refers to an actual event that occurred on January 7, 1967, not the fictional backstory that developed later that concocted a November 1966 car crash. This edit, where "January 1967" was changed to "January 1966" demonstrates a lack of basic knowledge about the subject of this article and apparently reading the source did not result in any understanding. Piriczki (talk) 14:17, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
Agree with the above: It's definitely an urban legend. Whether it's also a conspiracy theory is debatable (in my opinion that's way too serious a term for this frivolity) but we absolutely must have "urban legend" in the introduction. The argument that "urban legend" remained through 3000 edits over many years is a compelling one, as well. I'm going to return it. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 15:25, 5 June 2016 (UTC)
Also good points. I'm still of the opinion that this is more conspiracy theory than urban legend, but don't have a big issue with it being described either way. --Escape Orbit (Talk) 19:51, 6 June 2016 (UTC)