Post-9/11 HoaxesThe events of September 11, 2001 stunned the world. During the weeks that followed, fear, panic, grief, and confusion reigned. This was a perfect recipe for hoaxes and fear-driven rumors. Even in the best of times it can be hard for people to tell the difference between what's real and what's fake. When times aren't so good, any wild story finds a receptive audience.
The wild stories that circulated through email included the following: terrorists were going to strike again by blowing up malls on Halloween, a large number of rented Ryder vans capable of being converted into truck bombs had gone missing, and terrorists had coded secret messages into the Wingdings font of Microsoft Word.
There were also other, far more malicious deceptions that spread during this period such as anthrax and bomb-scare hoaxes. I'm not going to go into much detail about those kinds of hoaxes, because that's not what the Museum of Hoaxes is about (though I do have a category on my weblog for hate-crime and terror hoaxes). But one does have to wonder what drives people to perpetrate terror hoaxes like this. It's probably the sense of power they get from manipulating and provoking fear in other people. During times when everything seems out of control, this (false) power rush seems to become irresistible to some people.
Listed below are some of the more relatively benign hoaxes that spread during the period following September 11.