The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
Paul Krassner's Stereophonic Hoax, 1960
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar Hoax, 1874
The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
The Sandpaper Test, 1960
Can a bar of soap between your sheets ease muscle cramps?
The Crown Prince Regent of Thulia, 1954
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
The Case of the Moving Pyramids
During the early 1980s, many magazines and newspapers began to use digital imaging devices to manipulate photographs. The most popular such device was sold by Scitex America. The machines were very expensive, but they allowed images to be altered with far greater ease than darkroom techniques allowed.

One of the earliest high-profile instances of digital photo alteration appeared on the February 1982 cover of National Geographic (top), which showed a camel train walking in front of the Pyramids of Giza. Readers weren't informed that the pyramids had been moved slightly closer together, in order to fit the vertical format of the cover. No one might have noticed if the photographer, Gordon Gahan, hadn't complained. It then became a source of major controversy. Sheila Reaves, a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin has speculated that, "The enormity of moving such a large object brought home to people that you can move a shoulder or a smile."

Less remarked upon was that the photo was also staged. The camel train had walked by while Gahan was setting up his equipment. He paid them to walk by again.

Bottom: another shot of the pyramids from the same photo shoot by Gahan. In this photo, the pyramids haven't been moved.

Links and References
Kiel, Judy. Who Moved My Pyramid? An Overview of Digital Imaging Ethics in Photojournalism. (pdf file)


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