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June 2004
A lot of people in New York have been getting an email warning them not to ride the subways this Friday because terrorists may be planning a big attack. It's your typical I-heard-it-from-a-friend-of-a-friend nonsense, laced with a liberal helping of numerology (Friday being 6/11, WTC attack 9/11, Madrid bombing 3/11), plus bogus information (the city hasn't ordered a couple thousand extra body bags). You can read the full email over at Gawker. The New York City Police insist that they have no knowledge of an impending attack.
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Hate Crimes/Terror
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 10, 2004
Comments (0)
A couple of weeks ago I posted an entry about a Brazilian professor of Geology who has a rather unfortunate last name. That inspired quite a few people to chime in with other unfortunate last names they've encountered. But I think I've found a contest winner (not that there is any contest). Meet Miss Chew Shit Fun, a professor of Natural Sciences at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. As far as I can tell, that really is her name. (via The Peking Duck)
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 10, 2004
Comments (7)
The Met has been displaying the work of a major new artist. Hanging on the wall of its modern art gallery has been a cartoon-style painting of President Bush against a background of shredded dollar bills. A label next to the painting describes it as made out of "acrylic, legal tender and the artist's semen." Charming. Of course, the Met didn't realize it was displaying this work (someone surreptitiously stuck it up on the wall with double-sided tape), but it took them a few days to notice that the rogue painting was hanging there. Three other museums were also unwilling hosts of work by this unknown artist. What I find amusing is the idea of museum visitors standing and nodding as they try to appreciate these odd paintings, thinking they must be the work of some modern master.
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 09, 2004
Comments (0)
Digging through my harddrive, I came across this news item I saved at some time in the past and then forgot about. So here it is:

A classified ad was placed in a New Zealand newspaper in July 2001. It read,

"Where is Killer? We are missing our fat, furry, friendly cat. Killer is a marmalade-coloured tabby cat with a heart of gold and a hearty appetite. He's probably gone to your house to eat your food! If you've seen Killer please let us know. He has a missing right eye, a ripped ear, a limp, a scar down his spine. Please call Jim or June, or John or Joe."

Something about the description of Killer caught people's fancy, and soon hundreds of people were calling the number listed at the bottom of the ad. Some of them claimed they had seen Killer. Others just wanted to learn more about the battle-scarred feline and maybe help find him. Unfortunately Killer wasn't real. He had been invented by a group of co-workers playing a joke on a new employee. His phone reportedly rang all day.
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 09, 2004
Comments (0)
image Kristen sent in this picture of a Kern County police car bearing a decal with the motto, "We'll Kick Your Ass... And take your doughnuts too." The picture is doing the email rounds (it's been doing them for about a year) accompanied by a caption that explains:
Kern County California police drove this car for 1 week before an officer noticed what the graphics company employee did on the passenger side of the car. The employee did this on his last day working for the graphics company before he retired.
The picture is actually real (i.e. it's not photoshopped), but the caption explaining it is incorrect, which is a pity because the real story is better than the phony story. The decals weren't created by a mischievous graphics company employee. They were created by the Kern County police themselves as an in-house joke. This all happened last year (2003). Of course, when the picture of the squad car began circulating via email, it soon found its way to a local newspaper, the editor of which called up the Sheriff to ask him what it was all about. The Sheriff at first denied all knowledge of it, saying it was a doctored photo, but later the truth leaked out: a Kern County police Commander had ordered the decals made. All the details of the story can be found in this KGET News article. Of course, it didn't take long for someone to start selling 'We'll Kick Your Ass' merchandise on cafepress. Or, if your dog's birthday is coming up, you can get him a 'We'll Bite Your Ass' t-shirt.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 09, 2004
Comments (4)
image From the Hoax Forum: Gutza has submitted this suspicious goof from the movie Troy, which shows an airplane flying behind Brad Pitt (Achilles) as he stands in front of the Temple of Apollo. I saw this movie just a week ago, and I don't remember seeing a plane in that scene. You'd think it would have been pretty obvious. More significantly, the movie sleuths over at moviemistakes.com don't seem to have noted this either, even though I'm sure they'd be falling all over themselves to point it out if it actually was there. The picture, of course, could be a still from the set. But it's most likely just photoshopped.
Categories: Entertainment, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 09, 2004
Comments (4)
It's senior prank time. Students at North Penn High School observed the tradition by sticking 35,000 plastic forks into the school lawn. Over at Niles North High School, they put their school up for sale on eBay, though most of the bids seemed to come from teachers in on the joke. I searched for the auction itself, but unfortunately it looks like eBay has removed it from the site.

Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 09, 2004
Comments (0)
Just last night I added a new feature to the site: a discussion forum (I'm calling it the Hoax Forum) where people can post questions or info about new hoaxes they've found. I figure this will be better than having everyone email me stuff like this directly, since the email just sits unanswered in my inbox for ages. And already, on the first day of the forum's existence, someone has posted something good. Rachel Hurley found Fluids for Christ, which claims to be a blood bank for Christian fluid donations. After all, what good Christian would want to receive heathen blood? The site is almost believable (there are Christian Credit Agencies and Christian Pharmacies, so why not Christian Blood Banks?), until you start looking through it and it begins to become obviously silly, such as when they start describing their "Christpherization methods" of separating out the Christian components of blood.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 08, 2004
Comments (1)
image Here's a picture of some more weird clouds, sent in by Darren McEwen. I've got absolutely no information about where or when this picture was taken, or if it's real or not. I'm guessing that it's real because it looks to me like some of the scenes we saw during the forest fires here in Southern California last year. But the time stamp on the picture says it's from 2002, so it can't be from the 2003 fires.
Categories: Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 08, 2004
Comments (10)
image If I just saw this picture randomly out of context, I'd swear it was fake. After all, I've never in my life seen clouds that look like that. But according to the Astronomy Picture of the Day site (which I trust), the picture is real. They're Mammatus Clouds that appeared over Monclova, Mexico. Apparently such clouds sometimes form in turbulent air near thunderstorms.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Science
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 08, 2004
Comments (12)
image Karl Marx did say that religion is the opium of the masses. Well, now it's also a direct supplier of Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft. Yes, you can get all this and more over at JesusChristRx.com. You can even order up a whole bunch of cheap Viagra from the Son of God himself, if that's your thing. I really don't know what to make of the site. It appears to be a genuine online pharmacy. The Presurfer (whose site I found the link at) notes that it's some kind of knock-off of ChicagoRx.biz. If you click on the About Us link, it even describes itself as Chicago Rx. I suspect JesusChristRx is simply yet another attempt to doll up a business for the Fundamentalist crowd by slapping a Christian label on it... even if the business has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Kind of like the Christian Debt Removers site I stumbled upon last week.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (2)
This is an old site, but I hadn't seen it before. It pretends to be the homepage of a lobbying group called 'Citizens for a Murder-Free America' who are campaigning for passage of 'Precrime' legislation that will help stop murders before they happen. In reality, the site is part of the publicity campaign for Steven Spielberg's movie Minority Report, which was about a future society where the police use psychics to see into the future and tell them about murders before they happen (based on a Philip K. Dick short story). It was a pretty good movie.

Categories: Entertainment, Law/Police/Crime, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (0)
image Head for the hills. The end of the world is near. For the past month conspiracy-theory sites have been all abuzz with the latest scare story: that a comet surrounded by a cloud of dust is going to hit the Earth this month and trigger an end-of-the-human-race scenario.

Word of the approaching comet was first leaked on the internet by someone using the screen name 'Aussie Bloke,' who claimed to be an Australian astronomer. You can look at some of his posts over at Bushcountry.org (thanks to Marco Langbroek for sending the link). They make pretty dramatic reading. For instance, here's where he describes the effect that the cometary impact will have:

"There will be several impacts of differing sizes spread over the globe. The bombardment will last a week or so at most. The largest fragment will rock the planet and the smaller ones will wipe out a city here or there depending on where they come down. There WILL be quakes and firestorms and major flooding of coastlines due to ocean impacts. Yes...it will be much like the movie 'deep impact' only worse."

According to Aussie Bloke, there's not much time to get your affairs in order because the dust cloud will begin to reach us tomorrow (June 8), and the first impact will occur on June 18.

Now it seemed pretty easy to dismiss some random guy calling himself Aussie Bloke, but then he decided to reveal his true identity. He said that he was Dr. Grant Gartrell, and sure enough there definitely is a fully credentialed Australian astronomer by that name... who has published articles about meteors and cometary impacts. But unfortunately (or fortunately, rather), that Dr. Grant Gartrell completely denies any knowledge of this 'Impact in June' stuff. In fact, he's been retired from astronomy for quite a while and now spends his time running a blueberry farm, not tracking comets.

It looks like the entire 'Impact in June' hysteria has actually been an elaborate hoax designed to poke fun at the conspiracy nuts. One clue that it was all a joke can be found in the evidence that was presented. For instance, one poster noted that you could tell the comet was approaching because "fireballs have increased significantly over the last several weeks and are happening EVERYWHERE." He then noted that a fireball was seen near Grover's Mill, New Jersey (scroll about a third of the way down the page). Grover's Mill, of course, is where the Martians supposedly landed during the 1938 War of the Worlds Panic Broadcast.
Categories: Conspiracy Theories, Science
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (8)
I've heard of plenty of cases of people pretending to be cops, but this one takes the cake. It's the line about how "the bogus policeman used to patrol at night in company of a sheep that looks like a dog" that really boggles my mind. I'm trying to visualize a sheep that could pass for a dog, but my imagination just isn't good enough.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (2)
This story just seems wrong on so many levels... Four years ago a 40-year old Mexican woman, alone in the middle of Nowhere, is giving birth to a baby. Her husband is getting drunk at the local cantina. She's been in labor twelve hours, and the baby isn't coming out. So she reaches over, grabs a butcher knife, slices open her stomach, reaches inside her uterus and pulls out her baby boy. Miraculously both her and the baby survive. When I read this story, it triggered all kinds of hoax alarm bells in my mind. How could anyone possibly do that, I thought. Wouldn't she have passed out from the pain? What about infection? Isn't it a little suspicious that there were no witnesses (though I suppose the very reason she did this was because there was no one around)? But when I did some research, sure enough the case has been described in a scientific journal. So it looks like the story is true. Amazing.
Categories: Birth/Babies
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (7)
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