The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Van Gogh's ear exhibited, 1935
Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
Jernegan's Gold Accumulator Scam, 1898
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
Did Paul McCartney die on Nov. 9, 1966?
The Olympic Underwear Relay, 1956
Samsung invents the on/off switch
Female thieves hide money in their bras, 1950
The Nazi Air Marker Hoax, 1942
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
“Not What You Want To See”
The top photo, showing a flash of lightning that reveals a waterspout approaching an oil rig, has circulated online since early 2008. It is usually accompanied by the caption, "When the lightning flashes, this is not what you want to see." The image is not real. It is a composite of two photographs.

Amateur photographer Fred Smith photographed the waterspout and lightning on June 15, 1991 from his backyard overlooking Lake Okeechobee, Florida. He was taking pictures of a lightning storm when he got lucky and snapped a shot (bottom) of a waterspout illuminated by a flash of lightning. The photo subsequently appeared on a calendar, and in 2001 it became available for purchase online. Soon after it began circulating via email -- usually with incorrect captions that described it as a photograph of whatever tornado had most recently been in the news.

In early 2008 an unknown hoaxer pasted an oil rig into the picture and added the "not what you want to see" caption. This version has been circulating ever since.

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