The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper Hoax, 1998
Prankster causes volcano to erupt, 1974
The Hoaxing Hitchhiker, 1941

September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper Hoax, 1998
Actress who claimed she was kidnapped by puritans, 1950
Cat that walked 3000 miles to find its owners, 1951
Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
The Diaphote, a television hoax, 1880
The Gallery of Fake Viral Images
Is the Voynich manuscript a modern forgery?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 10, 2014
Simon Worrall, author of "The Poet and the Murderer" (about the Mark Hoffman forgeries) recently wrote an article for BBC News Magazine about the Voynich manuscript. Worrall notes that new theories about the manuscript "breed like mayflies." However, he confesses to believing that it's a modern forgery created by its discoverer, Wilfrid Voynich. He writes: "One of the most common tropes in the history of forgery is that of a rare book dealer 'discovering' previously unknown manuscripts." But even if you don't accept his theory, the article is worth a look because it has some nice photos of the manuscript itself. BBC News
Categories: History Comments (2)
No, Beyonce is not offering to pay her interns with selfies
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 10, 2014
HerCampus, a news site for women in college, recently posted that Beyoncé was looking for interns to help organize the "official Beyoncé archive." She wasn't offering any financial compensation, but she did promise "the opportunity to take three selfies with Beyoncé over the course of the internship." Quite a few media outlets picked up on the story and reported it as news. It's also circulated widely on social media. But prospective applicants should note that HerCampus posted the announcement on April Fool's Day. In other words, it was a hoax. It's definitely one of the more successful April Fool pranks this year, because it's completely believable not only that...
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (0)
Hoax Museum Makeover
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 09, 2014
Every few years I decide the site needs a makeover. And recently I felt that feeling growing within me, so that's what I've been doing for the past few days. The primary change has been to provide only summaries of the blog posts on the front page, rather than the posts in their entirety. This makes it easier to see what's been posted recently. I decided this was the way to go after realizing that a lot of visitors to the site would look only at the top post and miss all the posts below it. I also centered the entire site in the browser window, rather than having it hug the left-hand side. Hopefully none of these changes will prove disruptive in any way!
Categories: Miscellaneous Comments (6)
Has April Fool’s Day Marketing Jumped The Shark?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Apr 05, 2014
This e-junkie author complains that April Fool's Day marketing has gotten out of hand. There definitely was a huge amount of it this year. But I don't see the trend going away anytime soon, since marketers aren't exactly known for restraint. And to be honest, I'm not really bothered by it like this author is. Perhaps I'm just easily amused, but I kind of enjoy looking through all the weird stuff advertisers come up with every April 1. Though it is true that the advertisers don't make much of an effort to actually fool anyone. They're primarily aiming for being funny/cute/quirky. e-junkie.info
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (1)
The Rossendale Fairies
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 04, 2014
Manchester artist John Hyatt took some photographs of the landscape around Rossendale in Lancashire. But when he later enlarged those he images he noticed they showed tiny winged creatures that looked like fairies. Hyatt told the Manchester Evening News: "It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take. "I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don't look the same. "People can decide for themselves what they are. "The message to people is to approach them with an open mind. "I think it's one of those situations where you need to believe to see. "A lot of people who have seen them say they have brought a little bit of magic into their...
Categories: Paranormal, Photos/Videos Comments (12)
Why doesn’t America read anymore?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 04, 2014
NPR succeeded in pulling off one of the most successful April 1 pranks this year, in terms of number of people fooled. It posted the article below to Facebook that asked in the headline, "Why Doesn't America Read Anymore?" The provocative question quickly generated hundreds of responses. Some people bemoaned falling standards of education. Others disagreed with the premise, insisting that people do read nowadays. But what all the responses shared in common was that the people who posted them apparently hadn't bothered to click through and READ THE ARTICLE ITSELF! If they had, they would have discovered this text: Congratulations, genuine readers, and happy April Fools' Day! We...
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (2)
What does mermaid taste like?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 03, 2014
Found in Mermaids with Other Tales (1882) by Charles Henry Ross : a discussion of broiled mermaids. Apparently they taste like pork, which isn't surprising since (so it's said) human flesh tastes like pork also. But I wonder what wine pairs best with mermaid? BROILED MERMAID In the "Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences," John Jablousky says the skin of meer men and mermaids is of a brownish-grey colour, and their intestines are like those of a hog; their flesh as fat as pork, particularly the upper part of their bodies; and this is a favourite dish with the Indians, broiled upon a gridiron. Again, Edward Draper elsewhere says, "Mermaids are frequently catched which resemble the...
Categories: Cryptozoology, Food Comments (0)
Scary Emu
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 03, 2014
Seen circulating online with the caption "Just some friendly Australian wildlife". Of course, emus don't have teeth like that. Looks like someone added a row of shark's teeth to the bird. I believe the original image (below) comes from wikimedia commons.
Categories: viral images Comments (3)
The Yankee Rubber Baby
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 03, 2014
The Yankee Rubber Baby was, as the name suggests, an American-made rubber baby doll. Advertisements for it appeared in many newspapers and magazines throughout the 1880s. The ads claimed the device could simulate the sound of a baby screaming or cooing happily. I'm not sure how it would have done that. Though I'm guessing there must have been some kind of air bladder that you squeezed to make a noise. But the sound certainly doesn't seem to have been as lifelike as the ads suggested. From a review in Punch (Apr 23, 1881) The Rubber Baby makes a horrid squeaky noise, is easily blown out, and then goes pop, — quite a little Poppet. What an advantage to poor mothers to be able to pop a...
Categories: Birth/Babies Comments (0)
Siamese twins joined by their beard, 1937
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 01, 2014
April 1, 1937 — The Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung ran a story about Siamese twins joined by their beard. The story noted: "The brothers have solved all the problems of life joined together by means of their exemplary camaraderie. It is interesting that the phenomenon only manifested itself when the twins reached the age of 14."
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (0)
Happy April Fool’s Day!
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 01, 2014
It seems like the site's server isn't crashing, as it usually does on April 1! So that's good news. I've been posting a bunch of today's April Fools over at the Hoax Museum Facebook page, since it's easier to post stuff quickly over there. I'll add the best to the April Fool Archive later.
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (0)
The New York Times does not participate in the custom of April Fool's Day. It's the paper that only publishes "news that's fit to print," and April fool absurdities don't make the cut. Except for one time that maybe it did publish an April fool story. It was way back on April 1, 1906 when the following story appeared on the front page of the Times. It's an odd story. It's not really laugh-out-loud funny. But anyone familiar with the climate around the Salton Sea would immediately realize that the idea that it had frozen solid was absurd. And ice skating on the Salton Sea? Never happened. And six days later, on April 7, the Los Angeles Times called out the story, in a column headlined "A...
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (0)
What’s the earliest German reference to April Fool’s Day?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 20, 2014
With April Fool's Day fast approaching, I've been working on the April Fool Archive, trying to add supplementary material, etc. In the course of which, I realized that I didn't have much information about the early history of April Fool's Day in Germany. Specifically, what is the earliest German reference to April Fool's Day? Knowing this would give us an idea of how long the Germans have been celebrating April first. That question was harder to answer than I had anticipated. The Diet of Augsburg, 1530There's a German origin story about April Fool's Day that alleges the celebration started on account of a meeting of the Reichstag in Augsburg in 1530. The meeting was called to address a...
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (1)
History of Formosa on display
Posted by The Curator on Sat Mar 15, 2014
St. John's College in Cambridge is inviting the public to view a famous artifact from the history of hoaxes — a first-edition of The History of Formosa written by George Psalmanazar. [link: Belfast Telegraph] Back in the early 18th century, Psalmanazar posed as a native of Taiwan and had many of Britain's educated elites believing the ruse, even as he invented bizarre stories about the customs of Taiwan. If there was a real Museum of Hoaxes, this would be a great artifact to have on display. But it also shows the difficulty of ever having such a museum, because it turns out these artifacts are incredibly expensive, making the cost of acquiring them prohibitive. Unless the museum...
Miracle Machine wine maker
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 13, 2014
Several weeks ago, some wine-industry veterans (Kevin Boyer and Philip James) announced the invention of a gadget that would allow people to make wine at home in only 3 days. They called it the "miracle machine." The gadget seemed somewhat plausible, given the existence of home-brewing kits for beer. Plus it was promoted by a slick video and accompanying website. So over 600 media outlets took the bait and reported it as news. But yesterday, the "inventors" issued a press release revealing that the 'miracle machine' was just a hoax. But it was a hoax for a good cause. The idea was to promote a non-profit organization called "Wine to Water," which is trying to provide global access to...
Categories: Food, Websites Comments (0)
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.