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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 21
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 21, 2014
July 21, 1959: Jacqueline Gay Hart Disappears
Hart, a 21-year-old heiress, disappeared from Newark airport and was the subject of a nationwide search for two days until she turned up in Chicago's Grant Park, claiming she had been abducted by two men who drove her, bound and gagged, to Chicago. But within a day she admitted her story was false, explaining that she had "sort of exploded" because of tension over her approaching wedding and had fled, wandering around New York and Chicago for two days before deciding to return.
Categories: This Day in History Comments (1)
Fried Chicken Oreos
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 20, 2014
Fried Chicken Oreos are not a real thing. The photo of a bag of them that went viral this week was a fake. However, I don't think that the idea of Fried Chicken Oreos is inherently implausible. After all, chicken and waffles are definitely real (and very tasty). So why not have fried chicken oreos? Also, Oreos already come in many different, unusual flavors, such as cookie dough, candy corn, green tea ice cream, limeaid, orange ice cream, etc. So fried chicken flavor isn't that much of a stretch. However, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel checked with Weber Shandwick, who handle PR for Oreo cookies, and…
Categories: Food, viral images Comments (0)
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 20
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 20, 2014
July 20, 1971: The National Review Hoax
The conservative National Review magazine released a set of documents that it claimed were secret government papers dealing with the war in Vietnam. A day later it admitted the papers were a hoax, designed as a response to the Pentagon Papers published by the New York Times the previous month. William F. Buckley, editor of the National Review, claimed his magazine's hoax demonstrated that "forged documents would be widely accepted as genuine provided their content was inherently plausible." [Lewiston Daily Sun]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 19
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 19, 2014
July 19, 2002: The Case of a Phony 9/11 Survivor
On this day, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported the inspirational story of Daniel McCarthy, who had just been wed in Lake Tahoe. McCarthy, the paper said, was a Brooklyn police officer who had survived after being buried for 79 hours in the rubble of the World Trade Center. However, the national attention brought by the article quickly exposed McCarthy's elaborate tale of heroics as a complete fraud. McCarthy was neither a cop nor a 9/11 survivor. In reality, he had a long criminal record, and, on top of everything else, was already married. So his new marriage made him a bigamist. [Editor & Publisher]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 18
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 18, 2014
July 18, 1938: Wrong Way Corrigan
On this day, Douglas Corrigan landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome in Ireland after a solo, 28-hour flight across the Atlantic. The FAA had denied him permission for the flight because of the poor condition of his plane, but Corrigan claimed that he had intended to fly to California from Long Island but accidentally went the wrong way because of a broken compass. The explanation earned him the nickname "Wrong Way" Corrigan. His error was viewed by almost everyone as intentional, though he never admitted to this. [wikipedia]
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Milkybar Pareidolia
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
While watching the World Cup, a British lawyer (Robin Jacobs) was eating a Milkybar and noticed that the design imprinted on the bar includes a phallic shape that he believes is inappropriate for children. A spokesperson for Nestle, the maker of the bar, responded: "Nestle is surprised and sorry to hear that Mr Jacobs thought the picture on the Milkybar resembles male genitalia, it is in fact an image of a horse’s head, the Milkybar Kid’s horse." This Milkybar phallus pareidolia is getting LOTS of press coverage, although it's not clear to me why since people have been talking about the 'rude' image on the Milkybar for years. Here's a…
Categories: Pareidolia Comments (1)
Full Contact Skydiving
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
Full Contact Skydiving is defined (according to the website that promotes it) as "a mixed martial art combat sport occurring in the free-fall portion of a standard skydiving jump." But no, it isn't real. The entire thing is a spoof designed to promote the Amp energy drink. As revealed in a "behind the scenes" video recently posted.
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Shark in Lake Ontario
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
A video released last week showing a group of fishermen having an encounter with a shark in Lake Ontario has proven to be a hoax. The video was created by a company called Bell Media using a prosthetic model shark, as the company has admitted in a recent press release. It was "the first step of a multi-stage marketing campaign" to promote the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. Nissan is also involved in the hoax, since they're the ones sponsoring Shark Week. Apparently Nissan will have an ongoing campaign running throughout Shark Week titled "In Search of Canada's Rogue Shark," in which a team will be…
Categories: Advertising, Animals Comments (0)
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 17
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
July 17, 1842: The Feejee Mermaid
Inspired by the arrival in the city of a "Dr. J. Griffin" who claimed to have the body of a mermaid in his possession, New York City papers all ran mermaid pictures (supplied to them by PT Barnum), showing the creatures as seductive ocean maidens. But when Dr. Griffin got around to exhibiting his mermaid a week later to sell-out crowds, it proved to be, in the words of Barnum who had engineered the entire scheme, "an ugly, dried-up, black-looking, and diminutive specimen." Nor, of course, was it a real mermaid. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 16
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 16, 2014
July 16, 1866: The Calaveras Skull
At the July 16, 1866 meeting of the California Academy of Science, Josiah Whitney announced the recent discovery of a skull that he believed to be evidence that humans had been in North America for millions of years. It had been found my miners 130 feet below the surface and beneath a stratum of lava. The authenticity of the skull was immediately questioned, though Whitney did not waver in his belief. However, subsequent analysis has shown that the skull was no more than 1000 years old. It was probably planted by miners playing a practical joke. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 15
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 15, 2014
July 15, 2002: New Elements Faked
A team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published a short statement in the journal Physical Review Letters retracting its earlier announcement that it had successfully created two new elements, ununoctium and livermorium (Nos. 118 and 116). Officials at the lab later concluded that physicist Victor Ninov had fabricated data to make it appear as if these elements had been created, whereas, in fact, there had never been any evidence for the elements. Ninov strongly denied the accusation, but was nevertheless fired from the lab. [Atomic Lies (pdf)]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 14
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 14, 2014
July 14, 1992: Portofess
Father Anthony Joseph showed up at the Democratic National Convention in New York City with his portable confessional booth ("Portofess"), mounted on the back of a large tricycle. He explained that he aimed to provide "Religion on the move for people on the go," and also that, "The Church must go where the sinners are." Portofess made national news. But Father Joseph was really veteran hoaxer Joey Skaggs in disguise. Many of the journalists who interviewed "Father Joseph" had interviewed Skaggs before, but didn't recognize him. [joeyskaggs.com]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 13
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 13, 2014
July 13, 1855: The Silver Lake Sea Serpent
Two boys and five men fishing on Silver Lake in New York reported seeing a "horrid and repulsive looking monster" swimming in the water. Other sightings soon followed, triggering an influx of visitors to the region hoping to see the creature. Several years later, a local hotel owner, Artemus Walker, was credited with having created the monster as a way to drum up business. He supposedly made it out of a 60-foot canvas inflated by bellows. However, skeptics note that his elaborate creation seems as implausible as the lake serpent itself. [csicop.org]
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Missing: Pregnant Tarantula Named Penelope
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 12, 2014
On Thursday, someone posted flyers around Brooklyn alerting everyone that their pregnant red rump tarantula named Penelope had gone missing. "I know she looks crazy scary," the flyer said, "but she's mostly harmless." (Tarantulas definitely do look scary, but their bite really isn't that dangerous. It's comparable to a bee sting.) Anyway, Penelop's owner asked that if anyone found her, to put her in a "tupperware bowl" with holes and phone him. Naturally, these signs attracted quite a bit of attention. Someone even started a Twitter account in Penelope's honor. But last night, the New York Times revealed that…
Categories: Animals Comments (0)
Hair Curl Pareidolia
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 12, 2014
Kristin Kissee recently posted on Facebook a photo of her hair as it looked growing back from chemo and radiation back in November 2011. Apparently she just realized, as she was looking through old photos, that some of her hair curls in this photo appeared to spell "God". Although it looks to me like it could also spell "Good" or "Goo". [huffpost.com]. Hair-curl pareidolia is something you don't see that often. By far the most famous example of it is in that famous poster of Farrah Fawcett, where her hair curls kinda/sorta spell "SEX".
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.