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August 2002
The Shroud of Turin is back in the news. It turns out that the Vatican has secretly been allowing a scientist to perform tests on it for the past few months. Apparently the scientist is trying to get a more accurate reading of the exact age of the shroud's fibers, following criticism of 1988 tests of the age of the fibers.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 23, 2002
Comments (1)
The movie SIMONE is coming out this weekend. It's about an actress who's not real, because she's just a computer simulation. But everyone thinks she's real, and so a director, who must maintain the illusion that his actress is real, gets dragged deeper and deeper into the hoax that he has created. It's getting pretty bad reviews. The New York Times calls it "tepid and vapid." So I'll probably skip it.
Categories: Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 22, 2002
Comments (0)
Many of you have probably received this e-mail before and know what the trick is. But for those who haven't it's worth looking at. Someone just forwarded it to me and reminded me about it. The text of the e-mail with the link is pasted below. Your browser needs to be enabled with shockwave to see the trick effect. Plus, it may take a little while to see it (give it half a minute):

Thought you might enjoy this photo. This is really bizarre. Apparentlythe owners of this house had been seeing images and hearing voices for quite a while.They did some research and found that a lady once lived in the house wholost her husband during the civil war. Legend says that she used to sit at thetable and look across the fields in anticipation of her loved one returning home. Henever came. So, they say she still waits. They caught this photo of what theyclaim to be her. This one was wild and a little spooky once you find the ghostin the picture. It took me a few seconds to find it, but when you do, it juststands out. Like one of those optical illusions.To save you some time, concentrate around the table. Best not to focustoo much on one spot. Look around the table and toward the window.Click on the link below for the picture. Best to enlarge. For an addedtouch turn up the volume, it's faint, but the low murmur you hear was whatgot the photographer's attention first.Click here or paste it into your url:http://home.attbi.com/~n9ivo/whatswrong.swf
Categories: Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 21, 2002
Comments (0)
The LA Times tells of a good samaritan who tackled an armed man who was chasing three people down an alley. Unfortunately the armed man turned out to be an actor who was shooting a scene from the upcoming movie "Hunter." (registration required to view story).
Categories: Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 21, 2002
Comments (0)
A decades-old time travel hoax has been unravelling in Ohio this past week. It started with an article about Chris Aubeck, a researcher who was investigating the case of Rudolph Fentz. Fentz was a man who had supposedly time-travelled from 1876 to 1950, only to get struck down by a car and killed. The story has gained wide credence in many European circles. But Aubeck tracked the source of the tale down to an Akron-based writer, Ralph M. Holland, who wrote a story about this incident in 1953.But when Rev. George Murphy read about Aubeck's research, he recognized that the tale had an even earlier source. It turned out that Holland had lifted the tale from a short story by Jack Finney that appeared in a science fiction anthology titled Tomorrow, The Stars edited by Robert Heinlein that was published in 1951. So a 1951 science fiction story had somehow become accepted as fact by many, until Aubeck and Rev. Murphy debunked it.
Categories: Future/Time
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 20, 2002
Comments (3)
Hoax Website: petsorfood.com.
Categories: Animals, Gross, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 20, 2002
Comments (0)
Hoax Website: villainsupply.com
Categories: Entertainment, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 20, 2002
Comments (0)
Student fakes fire to avoid homework. Wow. Couldn't he just have said that the dog ate his homework?
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 20, 2002
Comments (1)
I remember when McDonalds was promoting its "Pick your prize Monopoly" game. I tried it and didn't even win a free fries. But this guy walked away with $20 million from games at McDonalds.
Categories: Con Artists
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 19, 2002
Comments (0)
US News & World Report has a special double issue this week on "The Art of the Hoax". Check out the lead article, "Strange but true: This is the golden age of hoaxes." Yours truly was interviewed for it and gets mentioned twice! Very exciting. But also check out their short piece on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. As it turns out, they fell for a tall-tale about this hoax. In the first paragraph they claim that because of this newspaper hoax:

"Daily sales of the Sun skyrocketed from 4,000 to 19,000–making it the world's most popular paper and launching a new kind of journalism."

Not so! For almost a century historians have been repeating this story about how the great moon hoax propelled the New York Sun to media stardom and established it as the world's most popular paper, and established modern journalism in the process. But the story is actually totally false. The tale got its start because a few days into the hoax, on August 28, 1835, the Sun boasted that it had a circulation of 19,360, making it the most widely circulated paper in the world. Almost a century later the historian Frank M. O'Brien, in his 1918 work about the history of the Sun (The Story of the Sun) made note of this boast in his retelling of the hoax. Subsequent historians, who relied solely upon O'Brien's work for their information about the hoax, figured that if the Sun was boasting about its circulation during the moon hoax, this must have meant that the hoax had caused a rapid rise in the paper's circulation. It seemed like a logical conclusion, but it was wrong.In actuality, the Sun had regularly been making the same boast about its high circulation for weeks before the moon hoax occurred. In fact, two weeks before the moon hoax, on August 13, 1835, the Sun boasted that its circulation was at 26,000, meaning that if you go by the Sun's own numbers, its circulation actually dropped during the moon hoax. But once the idea was established that the moon hoax immediately caused a meteoric rise in the Sun's circulation, it proved to be so compelling (because it provided a slightly scandalous angle to the birth of modern journalism) that no one ever bothered to check if it was actually true. In fact, various historians began to embellish the idea, inventing the claim that the Sun's previous circulation had been 4,000 (or 6,000, or 8,000... pick a number. Almost every author who writes about the moon hoax has a different figure for what the Sun's circulation skyrocketed from, though they all agree on the 19,000 figure).USN&WR also claims that the Journal of Commerce first exposed the hoax after the hoax's author, Richard Adams Locke, confessed to one of their reporters. This is also false. Many New York papers had immediately denounced the Sun's lunar claims as a hoax, and the New York Herald was the first to point the finger at Locke. The idea that the Journal of Commerce exposed the hoax dates to an 1852 retelling of the hoax by William Griggs.USN&WR can't really be blamed for getting some of the facts wrong. The literature about the moon hoax is full of these erroneous claims. The only reason I realized they were wrong is because I'm writing my dissertation about the moon hoax, and so I spent the time to actually dig up the papers from 1835 and find out what the real story was.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, History, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 19, 2002
Comments (1)
New York prankster arrested for duct-taping himself to a utility pole in a busy intersection while holding a sign reading "Save Ira Joe Fisher."
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 16, 2002
Comments (0)
Pranksters play havoc with New Zealand's new online electoral rolls, changing one woman's name from Kylene Soar to 'Mr. Fat Ass.' They also manage to register a basset hound to vote, listing its occupation as a cable-layer.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 15, 2002
Comments (0)
The San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at the phenomenon of phony heroes and fake victims of 9/11.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 15, 2002
Comments (0)
Here's a strange publicity stunt: a London company is seeking five people who are willing to officially change their name to Turok for one year. These people will then be walking, talking billboards helping to spread the word about the X-Box game called 'Turok: Evolution.'
Categories: Advertising, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 14, 2002
Comments (1)
I just learned that Tech TV chose the Museum of Hoaxes as their Site of the Nite last night. And next week US News & World Report will be coming out with a special double issue about hoaxes, for which I was interviewed. So the Museum of Hoaxes should (hopefully) be getting a plug somewhere in there as well. I just hope people who visit the site now will still remember it fondly when my book comes out in November. Fondly enough to maybe buy the book.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 14, 2002
Comments (0)
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