The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Eccentric's last prank, 66 years after his death, 1900
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
Lord Gordon-Gordon, robber of the robber barons, 1871
Fake Photos of Very Large Animals
Cat that walked 3000 miles to find its owners, 1951
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
Use your left ear to detect lies
'Solar Armor' freezes man in Nevada Desert, 1874
The worms inside your face
18th Century Literary Fakes
The eighteenth century is known as the great age of literary forgery. Fakes poured forth from the pens of writers. A number of factors contributed to this. First, this was the period during which print culture became ascendant over oral culture. Literacy rates rose dramatically. Therefore, it was natural that more people would turn their hands to print-based hoaxes. Second, the keen popular interest in antiquities and history that developed during this period gave forgers a ready market for any "ancient" manuscripts they could produce.

The sheer volume of forgery ironically promoted the advance of scholarship because it forced scholars to improve their analytical skills in order to separate authentic from inauthentic texts. The forgers, in turn, responded by becoming better at faking manuscripts. This "arms race" between scholars and forgers continues to this day. Any improvement in skills or techniques on one side immediately prompts a corresponding improvement from the other side.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.