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
Sex Hoaxes
A Case of Pregnancy without Intercourse, 1637. A pamphlet published in Paris described the case of a woman who had given birth to a son, even though her husband had been absent for four years. When charged with adultery, the woman claimed innocence, explaining that her husband had impregnated her in a dream. The court accepted this argument. The report of this ruling caused an uproar throughout Paris, but upon investigation the pamphlet was revealed to be a hoax. Continue…
The Trial of Polly Baker. In 1747 the London General Advertiser printed the text of a speech said to have been given by a woman, Polly Baker, at her trial. She had just given birth to her fifth child, was unmarried, and had been charged with having sexual intercourse out of wedlock. Polly Baker readily admitted her guilt but argued that the law itself was unreasonable. Why was she being punished, she asked, while the men who committed the crime with her were let off scot... Continue…
The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, 1836. In a tell-all book, Maria Monk described scandalous secrets of the Montreal convent where she claimed to have lived for 7 years. Nuns sleeping with priests. Babies killed and buried in the basement. Her revelations caused public outcry and stoked anti-Catholic sentiment. But investigations found no evidence to back up her claims. Nor evidence that she had even been at the convent. Continue…
Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a number of medical journals published letters from a correspondent who identified himself as Dr. Egerton Yorrick Davis. His letters usually discussed bizarre cases of a sexual nature. Both the case histories and the letter writer himself were bogus. Egerton Yorrick Davis was the pseudonym of Dr. William Osler, a Johns Hopkins University professor, who amused himself by sending these prank letters. Continue…
The September Morn Hoax, 1913. The French painter Paul Chabas completed "September Morn" in early 1912. The painting shows a young woman demurely bathing nude by the edge of Lake Annecy in Haute-Savoie, France. When Chabas showed it that year at the Paris Salon, it won a gold medal of honor. Critics praised it. But when copies of the painting made their way to America, it provoked a bitter controversy there about nudity, art, and public morality. Thanks to this controversy,... Continue…
Margaret Mead and the Samoans, 1925. In 1925, 24-year-old Margaret Mead traveled to Samoa where she stayed for nine months. On her return she wrote Coming of Age in Samoa, which was published in 1928. It portrayed Samoa as a gentle, easy-going society where teenagers grew up free of sexual hang-ups. Premarital sex was common. Rape was unheard of. Young people grew to adulthood without enduring the adolescent trauma typical in western countries. She used these findings to support her... Continue…
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959. G. Clifford Prout was a man with a mission, and that mission was to put clothes on all the millions of naked animals throughout the world. To realize his dream, Prout founded an organization, the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (abbreviated as SINA). It was left unexplained why the society was 'for indecency' not 'against indecency'. Continue…
Naked Came the Stranger, 1969. Newsday columnist Mike McGrady was convinced that standards of literary and artistic taste were plummeting rapidly in the United States, driven down by a relentless flood of media sensationalism that catered to the lowest common denominator. So he decided to design an experiment to test the depths of the American cultural morass. He would commission the writing of a novel lacking in any redeeming features: no plot or character development, no... Continue…
Our First Time, 1998. When the website OurFirstTime.com debuted in early 1998, it promised to offer an internet first. Web surfers would be able to share in the experience as two wholesome 18-year-olds, Mike and Diane, lost their virginity together at 9 pm on August 4, 1998. The event would be broadcast live, as it happened. Continue…
Ron’s Angels, 1999. It is legal to sell donor eggs to infertile couples. However, Ron Harris, an erotic photographer, proposed taking this process one step further. He established a website, Ronsangels.com, at which nubile supermodels auctioned off their eggs to the highest bidders. The concept outraged other members of the infertility industry. Continue…
Hunting for Bambi, 2003. In July 2003, Las Vegas TV station KLAS-TV reported that a local company was selling “Bambi Hunts.” These were games in which men with paintball guns hunted naked women in the Nevada desert. Anyone could sign up to join in a "hunt", although it could cost as much as $10,000 per game. An international media frenzy ensued. Numerous critics denounced the hunts, pointing out that a paintball hitting a naked woman could seriously hurt her.... Continue…

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