What was the Markovian Parallax Denigrate?
It’s been called the “Internet’s oldest and weirdest mystery,” and it all started with a series of enigmatic early internet posts from the mid-1990s, the full meaning of which remains unsolved over 20 years later.
In this crazy early internet world, there used to exist an Internet community called Usenet. It was, in essence, a chat forum, and it behaved exactly like all Internet chat forums do: Operating like a bulletin board or forum does today, Usenet allowed users to communicate by posting chronologically ordered messages, and not unlike the forums of today, it had problems with spam. The first major spamming incident in the history of the internet occurred in 1994, when a pair of lawyers blasted thousands of Usenet users with unbidden ads for their immigration law services. But when the mysterious Markovian Parallax Denigrate messages began, there were some good reasons to wonder if they were something more than spam.
Hundreds of posts titled “Markovian Parallax Denigrate” flooded the forum. The contents of each initially appeared to be gibberish, but they kept coming until one user stated it reached “an almost transcendent level of bizarre”.
Many of the early Internet adopters were of the scientific mind, given that the Internet was not as accessible as it is now, and they were hugely intrigued by these strange posts that looked like they were written in some type of code. Yet no one managed to work out what the messages meant.
With no answers forthcoming, the event was all but forgotten, until 2006, when a Wikipedia page concerning the event breathed new life into the mystery. A new generation of Internet sleuths tried to crack the mystery, but they all failed too.
Today, only one message with a subject line that reads “Markovian Parallax Denigrate” still exists in Google’s archives:
“jitterbugging McKinley Abe break Newtonian inferring caw update Cohen
air collaborate rue sportswriting rococo invocate tousle shadflower
Debby Stirling pathogenesis escritoire adventitious novo ITT most
chairperson Dwight Hertzog different pinpoint dunk McKinley pendant
firelight Uranus episodic medicine ditty craggy flogging variac
brotherhood Webb impromptu file countenance inheritance cohesion
refrigerate morphine napkin inland Janeiro nameable yearbook hark”
And here’s where it gets even weirder: The name on the sender’s email, Susan Lindauer, is a former journalist who was arrested in 2004 after allegedly serving as an agent of Saddam Hussein’s government.
No one has ever gotten to the bottom of it.