The Museum of Hoaxes
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Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1868 1869-1913 1914-1949 1950-1976 1977-1989 1990s 2000s
The Hoax Archive — A collection of the most notorious deceptions throughout history
Extraterrestrial Life Hoaxes
The Unparalled Adventures of One Hans Pfall. An article titled "The Unparalled Adventures of One Hans Pfall" appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger in late June of 1835. It claimed to be the text of a note dropped from a hot-air balloon that had appeared recently above Rotterdam. The note described Hans Pfall's journey to the moon in order to escape his earth-bound creditors. Pfaall had spent five years living among the inhabitants of the moon before sending one of the lunar... Continue…
The Great Moon Hoax of 1835. The New York Sun announced that the British astronomer Sir John Herschel had discovered life on the moon by means of a new telescope "of vast dimensions and an entirely new principle." Creatures supposedly seen by Herschel included lunar bison, fire-wielding biped beavers, and winged "man-bats." The public was fascinated. It took several weeks before they realized it was all a hoax. Continue…
The Orgueil Meteorite, 1864. After a meteor shower fell in southern France, someone went to elaborate lengths to embed plant seeds within one of the meteorites. It may have been an attempt to hoax the French scientific community, but the hoax backfired because the seeds weren't noticed by anyone until the 1960s, almost a century later. Researchers initially thought the seeds might be of extraterrestrial origin,until they identified them as native to France. Continue…
The War of the Worlds, 1938. On October 30, 1938, thousands of people fled in panic after hearing CBS Radio report that Martian invaders had landed in New Jersey and were marching across the country, using heat rays and poisonous gas to kill Earthlings. But as soon became clear, Martians hadn't really invaded New Jersey. What people had heard (and mistook for a real news broadcast) was a radio version of H.G. Wells's story The War of the Worlds, performed by Orson Welles and... Continue…
A Homemade UFO, 1947. July 11, 1947: Ten days after residents of Twin Falls, Idaho reported seeing flying saucers in the sky, a woman reported finding a flying saucer embedded in the lawn of her neighbor's home. Police came out to investigate, followed by the FBI and three army officers who flew out from Fort Douglas, Utah. What they found was a small, gold-and-silver-colored saucer about the size of a bicycle wheel. It had gouged long strips in the lawn as it landed.... Continue…
The Great Monkey Hoax, 1953. Three young men reported running over a space alien on a rural Georgia highway. What made this case unusual is that the body of the alien was lying on the highway to prove their tale. The incident quickly made national headlines. But when scientists from Emory University examined the 'alien,' they determined it was a Capuchin monkey with its tail cut off and fur removed with depilatory cream. The boys confessed it had been a prank. Continue…
The Little Blue Man Hoax, 1958. In early 1958 Michigan motorists began to report sightings of a "little blue man". The glowing figure, who looked like a spaceman from a science-fiction movie, would appear out of nowhere on rural roads, and then just as suddenly disappear. When startled motorists stopped to investigate, they could find no trace of him. As time progressed, the sightings grew more fantastic. Some said the man appeared to be ten-feet high. Others thought he was... Continue…
Chariots of the Gods?. Chariots of the Gods?, written by Erich von Däniken, was first published in 1968. It became an international bestseller. The thesis of the book is that ancient human civilizations had contact with visitors from outer space. These "ancient astronauts" were supposedly responsible for many of the great architectural feats of history, such as the Egyptian pyramids, the Nazca lines of Peru, and the statues on Easter Island. Mainstream... Continue…
Aliens Invade Rockford. In December 1989, the Sunday edition of the Rockford Register Star ran a brief article on its front page under the headline, “Aliens Spotted Near Rockford.” The article warned that “These aliens claim to be human children offering further proof that alien beings do indeed live in our planet and may be among local residents.” The story was a prank inserted by a mischievous production worker. The man was fired the next day.... Continue…
Alien Autopsy, 1995. Ever since the rumored crash of a flying saucer near Roswell, New Mexico in the summer of 1947, UFO theorists had speculated that the body of an extraterrestrial had been collected from the wreckage and autopsied. In May 1995, British music and video producer Ray Santilli announced he had acquired footage of such an autopsy. A broad coalition of expert ridiculed the footage as an obvious hoax. Physicians pointed out that the surgeons shown in the... Continue…
The Morristown UFO Hoax. On January 5, 2009, mysterious red lights appeared in the night sky above Morris County, New Jersey. They were seen by numerous people, who reported them to the police. The lights were seen again on several nights throughout January and February. The police speculated that the lights were probably the work of a prankster. Nevertheless, the media gave extensive coverage to the theory that the lights were actually UFOs. In February the lights were... Continue…

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