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
Hoaxes as Social Activism
A Modest Proposal. In 1729 Jonathan Swift anonymously published a short work titled A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being a Burden to their Parents or the Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to the Public. The essay began innocuously by discussing the problem of numerous starving beggars and homeless children in Ireland. But then it proposed a radical solution: Ireland's large, impoverished population could be turned... Continue…
The Veterans of Future Wars, 1936. Future veterans march to demand their bonuses In 1935 veterans of World War One lobbied Congress to pay them their war bonuses ten years early in order to ease the economic hardship they were experiencing during the Great Depression. Congress readily acquiesced and passed the Harrison Bonus Bill in January 1936. This pre-payment was a source of inspiration for Lewis Gorin, a senior at Princeton University. It seemed logical to him that if... Continue…
Black Like Me. John Howard Griffin was a white native Texan novelist and journalist with a strange idea that he couldn't get out of his head. What if a white man became a black man for six weeks and traveled through Deep South states such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi? Continue…
FAINT, 1985. On January 21, 1985, the daily broadcast of the Donahue show was devoted to a typically unusual subject — gay senior citizens. But few people would later remember the topic of that day's show, because as the live broadcast progressed seven members of the audience proceeded to faint. Concerned by the bizarre outbreak of swooning, Donahue cancelled the rest of the show and sent everyone home. The producers theorized that the hot temperature... Continue…
Arm the Homeless, 1993. A press release distributed to the media in Columbus, Ohio announced the formation of a new charity that would benefit the homeless by providing them with guns and ammunition. It was called the "Arm the Homeless Coalition." News of this charity was soon picked up by the national media and generated enormous controversy. But when an Ohio reporter tried to track down the Director of the Arm the Homeless Coalition, his investigation led him instead... Continue…
The Yes Men’s Bhopal Hoax, 2004. On December 3, 2004 the BBC broadcast an interview with Jude Finisterra, who claimed to be a representative of Dow Chemical. The date was the 20th anniversary of the chemical disaster in Bhopal, and the BBC had sought out a representative from Dow to speak about the tragedy since Dow had inherited responsibility for the disaster via a corporate acquisition. During the interview, Mr. Finisterra shocked the BBC's audience when he said that not only... Continue…

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