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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 29
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 29, 2014
June 29, 1988: The first Lizard Man sighting
A 17-year-old driving home from work at 2 AM in Lee County, South Carolina reportedly encountered a green reptilian humanoid with glowing red eyes. Within a month, several other people had reported seeing a similar creature, leading to a wave of "Lizard Man" mania. Tourists came hoping to see the creature, and a radio station offered a $1 million reward for his capture. Lizard Man remains at large. [wikipedia]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 28
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jun 28, 2014
June 28, 1902: Passage of the Dick Act
According to an email that has circulated widely since 2012, the "Dick Act" (passed on June 28, 1902) permanently made all gun-control laws unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Dick Act "cannot be repealed." This email is a hoax. The truth is that there was a Dick Act, which created the National Guard system, but it had no bearing on gun-control laws. And like any law, it could be repealed (and was, in fact, extensively rewritten by subsequent acts of Congress). [armsandthelaw.com]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 27
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 27, 2014
June 27, 1994: O.J.'s Darkened Mug Shot
Time magazine used a mug shot of O.J. Simpson on its June 27, 1994 cover. However, Newsweek ran the same mug shot on its cover that week. When the two covers appeared side-by-side on newsstands, it became very obvious that Time had altered the mugshot by darkening it. Time argued that it had artistically interpreted the mugshot to make it into an "icon of tragedy." But critics charged Time with racially motivated photofakery. More…


June 27, 2012: Phony Back to the Future Day
Thousands of Facebook users shared a photo that appeared to show that June 27, 2012 was "Back to the Future Day" — the day on which Marty McFly arrives in the future in the 1989 Movie Back to the Future II. However, the actual date of BTF day is Oct. 21, 2015. The phony image had been created as part of a promotion of a box set of Back to the Future DVDs. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes (and Pranks): June 26
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jun 26, 2014
June 26, 1998: Discovery of the Marree Man
A pilot flying in a remote region of South Australia spotted an enormous geoglyph carved into the ground, depicting a man throwing a stick. No one had seen the figure before. Nor did anyone know how it had come to be there. Its creation was assumed to be the work of pranksters. To this day, no one has confessed to making it. [wikipedia]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 25
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 25, 2014
June 25, 1899: The Great Wall of China Hoax
On this day, a group of Denver reporters ran a hoax story claiming that China had decided to tear down the Great Wall and was inviting American firms to bid on the demolition project. Decades later a persistent rumor began to circulate alleging that when this article reached China, the Chinese became so furious at the idea of Americans tearing down the Great Wall, that they took up arms against Westerners in retaliation. Thus launching the Boxer Rebellion. However, there was no truth to this rumor at all. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 24
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 24, 2014
June 24, 1947: The Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting
On this day in 1947, civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine unidentified objects flying at supersonic speed past Mount Rainier. Newspaper accounts referred to what he saw as "flying saucers," which popularized this term. There's no indication that Arnold was lying about what he saw. Skeptics suggest that he might actually have been seeing birds or some kind of mirage. So his report itself isn't a hoax. But his report is widely credited with ushering in the modern era of UFO sightings, which has been a rich source of hoaxes. [wikipedia]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 23
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 23, 2014
June 23, 1987: The Dayton Hudson Stock Hoax
The news that a private investment firm was buying the retailer Dayton Hudson for $6.8 billion sent the company's stock price soaring, and then crashing back down again when investors learned the report was false. A 46-year-old investment adviser, P. David Herrlinger, had phoned the Dow Jones News Service and told them he was buying the company, and the news service had believed him. But Herrlinger, it turned out, was suffering a nervous breakdown and delusional, which sparked concern at how easily a single irrational individual could manipulate the market. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 22
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 22, 2014
June 22, 2005: Death of William Donaldson
William Donaldson (1935-2005) was the author of one of the great satirical literary hoaxes of the late 20th century, the bestselling Henry Root Letters. Adopting the identity of Henry Root, supposedly a retired wet-fish merchant whose politics leaned far Right, Donaldson wrote brash, often abusive letters to eminent public figures. The letters usually contained a single pound note. The recipients of Root's letters would inevitably write back, apparently unaware that they were the butt of a joke. [wikipedia]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 21
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jun 21, 2014
June 21, 1947: The Maury Island Incident
On this day, Harold Dahl claimed to see six "donut-shaped" discs flying above him while he was on a boat in Puget Sound. One of the discs ejected bits of molten metal, which (so Dahl said) killed his dog and burnt the arm of his son. Dahl also said that he was later visited by a man in a dark suit who warned him not to talk further about the incident. This was the first report of a "man in black". Air Force investigators identified the metal as scrap metal from a factory, and Dahl confessed that his report was a hoax. [wikipedia, mauryislandincident.com]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 20
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 20, 2014
June 20, 1977: Alternative 3
A documentary titled Alternative 3 aired in England, on ITV. It revealed to viewers the existence of a secret plan by the governments of the world to create a Noah's Ark colony of humans on Mars in anticipation of a looming environmental catastrophe that would soon make the Earth uninhabitable. The earnestness of the show's delivery convinced many that it was real. However, it was intended as a mock documentary, originally intended to be aired on April Fool's Day. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 19
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jun 19, 2014
June 19, 1816: Wimbledon Common Military Review
Twenty-thousand people assembled on Wimbledon Common in England to witness a 'Grand Military Review' that pamphlets had promised would occur. When it became clear that no parade was happening, the crowd grew restless and set fire to the grass. They weren't appeased when officials explained that no parade had ever been planned, and that the pamphlets were the work of a prankster. The crowd continued to grow ever more violent, so much so that the police were unable to contain them. Eventually a detachment of guards was dispatched from London with orders to parade up and down the Common, in order to satisfy the crowd.
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 18
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 18, 2014
June 18, 2003: A Phone Call to Fidel Castro
On this day in 2003, two Miami DJs fooled Cuban President Fidel Castro into thinking he was receiving a phone call from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The DJs simulated Chavez's voice by playing back real soundbites spoken by the Venezuelan leader during speeches, while a presenter posing as a Chavez "aide" carried the bulk of the conversation. The "aide" explained that Chavez needed help finding a lost suitcase. Castro readily agreed to help, at which point the "aide" revealed to Castro that he "fell" for it, and that "All of Miami is listening to you." This prompted Castro to break out in a string of invective. [youtube]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 17
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 17, 2014
June 17, 1579: Drake's Plate of Brass
June 17, 1579 is the date engraved on a brass plate, commemorating the landing of Francis Drake in San Francisco Bay. The plate was found in 1936 and was initially believed to be the actual plate left centuries ago by Drake and his crew. It was only determined to be a forgery in the late 1970s. Members of a historical society, E Clampus Vitus, had created it as a practical joke on one of their own members, but the joke spun out of their control. [berkeley.edu]

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Bigfoot in New York
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 16, 2014
Veteran prank artist Joey Skaggs was up to his old tricks recently. At the beginning of June, he sent out a press release announcing that on June 7 the Tiny Top Circus ("the world's only pataphysical circus") would come to New York's Washington Square Park, where it would have "Bigfoot, the 8th Wonder of the World" on display. June 7 arrived and, as promised, the Tiny Top Circus showed up. It turned out to be Skaggs on a tricycle on which was mounted a tiny bigtop tent. Actually, the tricycle looks very similar to the one he used in his "Portofess" (portable confessional) hoax back in 1992. I'm guessing it's the same tricycle.
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes (and Stunts): June 16
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 16, 2014
June 16, 1946: Jim Moran Hatches an Egg
Publicity man Jim Moran began sitting on an ostrich egg, taking the place of the mother ostrich who supposedly refused to sit on it. He wore special "hatching pants" and sat in a "hatching chair" (a wheelchair with a compartment for the egg) in order to keep it warm. The egg hatched 19 days later. The stunt was designed to promote the 1947 movie "The Egg and I." More…

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.