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
Physics Hoaxes
The Electric Kite Hoax. On October 19, 1752, the Pennsylvania Gazette published a brief description of an experiment recently conducted by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, the article said, had flown a kite in a thunderstorm, causing electricity to be conducted down the line of the kite and electrifying a key tied to it. This demonstrated that lightning, as many had speculated, was a form of electricity. Franklin's electric kite became the most famous experiment of the... Continue…
Redheffer’s Perpetual Motion Machine, 1812. In 1812 a Philadelphia man, Charles Redheffer, claimed to have invented a perpetual motion machine that required no source of energy to run. He built a working model of the machine and applied for funds from the city government to build a larger version. But when inspectors from the city examined it, they realized that Redheffer had simply hidden the power source. To expose Redheffer, they commissioned a local engineer to build a similar machine,... Continue…
Professor Wingard’s Nameless Force, 1876. In February 1876, 'Professor' James C. Wingard of New Orleans announced he had invented a powerful new weapon that would utterly destroy any naval vessel, iron or otherwise, "so as to leave no trace of them in their former shape." Wingard was coy about the exact means by which his weapon operated. He would only say that it projected a "nameless force," which somehow involved the use of electricity, applied without any direct connection between... Continue…
The Sokal Hoax, 1996. Alan SokalAn article that appeared in the Spring 1996 issue of the cultural studies journal Social Text bore the portentous title "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." At first glance the article appeared to be an unlikely candidate for controversy. It was written in the typical style of academic articles, slightly overbearing and verbose, and it came armored with a bristling flank of footnotes... Continue…

Hoax Archive Categories
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  • Television Hoaxes

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