The Museum of Hoaxes
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Time Period: 2000-2004
Snowball the Monster Cat. (Circulating online since early 2000) Cordell Hauglie never anticipated that this picture of him holding a digitally enlarged version of his family cat would become one of the most popular images on the internet. More…
Cut-and-Paste Diversity. (September 2000) University of Wisconsin-Madison officials pasted a black student's face into a crowd scene that appeared on the cover of the undergraduate application brochure (left). After the student newspaper revealed the alteration, embarrassed university officials explained they had wanted to highlight the campus's racial diversity, but had been unable to find a suitable photo. So they created one. The university subsequently attempted to recall all the brochures. More…
The Tip of the Iceberg. (2001) Photographer Ralph Clevenger created this image in 1999 by compositing together several different photos. He intended it as an art photo and never presented it otherwise. But around 2001, it began to circulate online with a false caption claiming it was a shot taken by a "Rig Manager for Global Marine Drilling in St. Johns, Newfoundland" and that "They actually have to divert the path of these things away from the rig by towing them with ships!" More…
Helicopter Shark. (Circulating online since Aug 2001) Despite what this photo shows, a Great White shark has never attacked a helicopter in San Francisco Bay. More…
Tourist Guy. (Circulating online since September 2001.) Created by a Hungarian man as a bit of dark humor to share with his friends, this photo became one of the most widely viewed images online in the weeks after 9/11. More…
Mid-Island Fish. (July 29, 2002.) This ad was supposed to express support for Long Island, New York businesses, but viewers noticed it showed a Seattle fishmarket. More…
Bush Reads Book Upside-Down. (Found online, September 2002.) In the original version of this photo, President Bush's book was not upside-down. More…
Leftist Patriot. (Circulating online since 2002. ) Senator Daschle's hand was digitally flipped to make it appear he was repeating the Pledge of Allegiance incorrectly. More…
The Lackawanna Shooter. (Published Sep 20, 2002) A New York Times photographer was accused of staging this photo "like a fashion shoot." More…
The Misleading Steak Premiere. (Late 2002) A government investigation concluded there was a disparity between the amount of toppings shown in this ad, and the amount on the actual sandwich. More…
Kate Winslet’s Legs. (February 2003) Kate Winslet complained that photo editors made her look too skinny on this GQ cover. More…
Shuttle Columbia Explosion Photos. (2003) When the space shuttle Columbia exploded upon re-entry on February 1, 2003, no cameras recorded the event. But online, a dramatic series of images of a space shuttle exploding began to circulate. They were said to have been taken "from an Israeli satellite in space." The pictures were actually screenshots from the opening scene of the movie Armageddon (1998), in which the space shuttle Atlantis is struck by meteorite fragments. More…
British Soldier in Basra. (Created March 29, 2003.) This digital composite slipped past the editors of the LA Times and ran on the paper's front page. More…
Louis Vuitton Designer SARS Mask. (April 2003) The fashion designer never actually included a SARS mask in any of its collections. More…
Manitoba Home Security. (Found online in 2003) A digital composite makes it appear that polar bears are relaxing outside someone's house. More…
The Real Julia. (July 2003) Julia Roberts' head was pasted onto a younger version of her body. More…
The Great Blackout of 2003. (Found online in late August 2003) This fake photo circulated widely in the days following the Great Blackout of 2003. More…
Trophy Turkey. (Thanksgiving 2003) This photo appears to show President Bush serving dinner to troops during a surprise visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving Day, 2003. The image was widely published and credited with helping the President's popularity rise in polls. But the image was later criticized for being misleadingly captioned, because newspapers failed to mention that Bush was holding a decorative centerpiece not intended for consumption. The troops were actually fed turkey from steam trays. More…
Hanoi John. (Circulating online since Feb 2004) Not only had Fonda not shared the stage with Kerry, she hadn’t even attended the rally shown here. More…
Giant Human Skeleton. (Circulating online since early 2004) Despite what this photo appears to show, archaeologists did not unearth a giant human skeleton in Saudi Arabia. More…
Fetal Footprint. (Circulating online since mid-2004) The abdominal wall is too muscular and thick to actually allow a footprint to be seen with this clarity. More…
Home Computer of the Future. (First posted online September 11, 2004) Popular Science magazine did not publish this image in 1954, predicting that it was what a home computer would look like fifty years in the future. More…
Whatever It Takes. (October 2004) An ad released by Bush's 2004 presidential campaign showed a crowd scene from which the President had been digitally removed. More…
Modern-Day Diplocaulus. (Circulating online since late 2004) The mysterious creature in the bucket was actually a clay model, not a surviving prehistoric Diplocaulus. More…
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.