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November 2004
image In a reworking of the Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961, Yale students, posing as members of the 'Harvard Pep Squad', managed to trick Harvard fans into holding up flip-cards reading 'WE SUCK' at the Harvard-Yale football game. I guess it's true that the great pranks never go out of style. (Thanks to Mormagli for giving me a heads up about this on the message board)
Categories: Pranks, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 30, 2004
Comments (5)
image The Tissue Culture & Art (TC&A) Project at University of Western Australia has succeeded in creating Victimless Leather. This is a tiny leather jacket "grown out of immortalised cell lines which cultured and form a living layer of tissue supported by a biodegradable polymer matrix in a form of miniature stich-less coat like shape." It's perfect for a doll's house, or if you have a mouse that needs a leather jacket. I'm guessing this isn't a hoax, since it shouldn't be that hard to grow cells on a scaffold shaped like a jacket. But it would have been cooler if they had grown it large enough to fit a person.
Categories: Body Manipulation
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 30, 2004
Comments (10)
Here's another photo that's doing the rounds on the internet. It's captioned 'Tank Silencer'. I have no idea what this device is actually used for, but somehow I don't think it's a tank silencer. So this would be a case of 'real picture, false caption.' Click image for larger version. (via Hell in a Handbasket) image
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 30, 2004
Comments (26)
image I noticed this article about the sport of competitive Cup Stacking in today's issue of the San Diego Union Tribune. That would be plastic cups... stacked up... as a sport. All the internet research I've done indicates this isn't a hoax. The sport of Cup Stacking is real. For instance, here's the site of SpeedStacks.com, the leading manufacturer of cup stacking equipment. But still, I'm having a hard time getting my brain around the concept of it. Maybe it's the testimonials in the Union Trib article that are giving me a hard time. Check out what student Jason Counts says about cup stacking: "It changed my life. Before then, I was kind of going down the wrong path. Since I got into cup stacking, I've changed tremendously." Someone please tell me he's kidding.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 30, 2004
Comments (22)
image This is either a prank by a low-level employee, or some kind of error. Target.com apparently is selling marijuana for only $25.25 (how much do you get for that price?). The link might be dead pretty soon, so here's a screen cap. Of course, Target does have a garden department, so maybe it's real... (via Boing Boing)
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Comments (18)
Once you get tired of socializing with your imaginary eBay girlfriend, you might want to meet a real woman... in person. But how do you go about doing this? That's where Wing Women comes in. "What we provide at wingwomen.com is an attractive, outgoing and fun spirited Wing Woman who will do her best to introduce you to other women." For only $50 an hour, a wing woman will meet you at a bar, or other public place, and then she'll pretend that she's your friend. In other women's eyes this will seem like a seal of approval (i.e. he's got one female friend, so there must be something okay about him). Soon the women will be flocking around you. Of course, eventually they'll find out that you hired your female friend. Then it'll be back to the imaginary eBay girlfriend.
Categories: Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Comments (17)
I've recently discovered a good blog named The Rambler that delves into a lot of hoaxy material. Recently Mark (who writes The Rambler) posted a disturbing entry about some relatives of his who let their cats run out of control:

They never cleaned the litterbox so the cats defecated all over the house. They particularly liked shoes and closets so getting dressed must have been like camping in Africa. My wife's cat makes so much noise when he's hungry that I can't imagine anyone not feeding one cat let alone 11, but they frequently let them go without food. The mother cat eventually turned cannibalistic and would wait behind furniture or random piles of crap for a kitten to walk by. When one was unlucky enough to do so, she leapt out, killed and ate it.

A cannibalistic mother cat? I'm assuming Mark isn't pulling our leg, but I've never heard of such a thing. Though I should add that my understanding of cat behavior is mostly shaped by the behavior of the one plump and lazy cat who lives with me.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Comments (54)
Is your child receiving poor grades in school in every subject except Computer Education? Is your child spending a lot of time in their bedroom and at home? Then he or she may be suffering from videogame addiction. Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence (MAVAV) is a group that's trying to educate parents about this growing threat. Check out some of the articles on their site, such as "E3: The Evil Entertainment Expo" or "EverQuest: A Threat to Society?" I could imagine a group like this being real, but it's just a hoax created by David Yoo way back in 2002. On this page Yoo describes why he created it and notes that even after it had been exposed as a hoax on Slashdot, he still continued to receive letters from people who thought it was real.
Categories: Technology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Comments (55)
image In this picture that's caused quite a sensation in England, Lt. Col. Simon West reveals exactly what's beneath his kilt during a group photograph with the Queen. But is the picture real? Apparently so. According to articles in a variety of British papers, the accidental exposure was witnessed by hundreds of people. It happened on Nov. 9 as the Queen posed with the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. This assumes, of course, that the exposure was accidental. Lt. Col West insists that it was. All the papers seem to be running a censored version of the picture, but Snopes has posted what looks like the original version (click the image on the right for the uncensored, nsfw version). They say it's status is undetermined, but it looks legitimate to me. The version that ran in the papers seems too tame to have caused such a fuss.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 29, 2004
Comments (24)
image The UK publisher of the Museum of Hoaxes just sent me a picture of what the paperback edition of the book will look like when it comes out over there (click image for a larger version). It looks quite colorful and fun. But I'm especially proud of the fact that it has a picture of Hamster Viagra right at the top of it. Nothing says quality non-fiction quite like Hamster Viagra. As for why the UK edition says 'edited by Alex Boese' instead of just 'by Alex Boese,' I have no idea. I'm trying to find out why.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 28, 2004
Comments (14)
image In 1945 did Charles De Gaulle really say to Winston Churchill, in reference to the military aid that the Allies provided to France to defeat Germany, that "We shall stun you with our ingratitude"? Monday, November 22 was the birthday of De Gaulle, and a number of right-leaning blogs marked the occasion by posting this quotation (they seem to have picked it up from an article in the Belfast Telegraph). So did De Gaulle really say this?

Even though the tense verbal exchanges between De Gaulle and Churchill are well known, this particular remark sounded hoaxy to me. A quick google search didn't turn up any source that could verify the remark, though it did pull up an essay noting that Churchill once quoted to De Gaulle a passage from Plutarch: "ingratitude towards great men is the mark of a strong people." So it's possible that De Gaulle responded to this comment by saying that the French would stun Churchill with their ingratitude (in which context, the remark would be a compliment).

However, a second, more thorough google search revealed that the 'stunning ingratitude' quotation has been attributed to a number of other people besides De Gaulle. This 2003 article in theage.com.au attributes it to the prime minister of the Hapsburg Empire: When, in 1848, Tsarist Russia intervened to put down an insurrection in Hungary, thus saving the Hapsburg Empire which was then in deep trouble, the Hapsburg prime minister commented that: "We shall astonish the world with our ingratitude."

But quite a few other people (including the conservative columnists Pat Buchanan and George Will) credit the remark to the Italian statesman Camillo Benso Cavour: The Sardinian minister who guided his country to the unification of Italy in the mid-1800, Cavour, did so with French help in a war with Austria. Without the French Army the Austrians would probably still have been ruling Northern Italy in 1914. Cavour's comment was that someday the Italians would astonish the world with their ingratitude to France.


I suspect that Cavour is the true source of the saying. In which case, it's ironic that a remark originally referring to ingratitude towards France has now come full circle and is being used to demonstrate (supposedly) the ingratitude of France.
Categories: History, Military, Politics
Posted by Alex on Sat Nov 27, 2004
Comments (7)
Terminal Tours provides a service for those who are near death or just thinking about dying, whisking them away on the vacation of their dreams. It gives them a chance to do that one thing they always wanted to do, but never got around to doing. The guide on this 'terminal tour' is Michael Keever. Except Michael Keever doesn't actually exist. He's a character from Tom LeClair's recent novel, Passing On. Nor does Terminal Tours itself exist. LeClair left some comments in the hoax museum message board, noting that the Terminal Tours site "extends the fiction of the novel and parodies 'promise you everything, including eternal life' web sites." He also tells me that in the spirit of the Museum of Hoaxes, his next novel, The Liquidators (due out next fall), features a Museum of Lead. Cool.
Categories: Death, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 24, 2004
Comments (0)
First the police showed up at the house on Bristol Ferry Road to investigate a phoned-in report of domestic disturbance and narcotics. Finding nothing, they left. Then three taxicabs showed up, claiming someone had called for a pickup. Then delivery guys from Pizza Hollywood, Steve's Pizza, and Carmella's added to the crowd. It sounds like someone was trying to re-enact the infamous Berners Street Hoax of 1810. Although, of course, I don't think anyone has ever managed to top the crowd at Berners Street.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 24, 2004
Comments (5)
It was pointed out to me that once people register as a member the 'notify of new comments' button suddenly becomes selected by default whenever they post a comment. That's a little annoying. I've managed to change this for people who register in the future, so that it won't be selected by default. But for existing members, if you don't want that option selected by default, you're going to need to change it yourself in your individual member preferences (you may not have realized there even were individual member preferences). Here's what you do:

  • Click login on the menu above.

  • Then click on the 'My Account' link at the top-right of the login screen

  • Next click 'email settings'

  • Finally, unclick the 'enable email notification by default' button


And that'll do it.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 24, 2004
Comments (1)
image For the past week (ever since Nov. 14) Brian has been drinking nothing but Pepsi Holiday Spice. He will continue to drink nothing but Pepsi Holiday Spice until Christmas Day. It's his strange, self-appointed mission for himself, apparently inspired by the movie Supersize Me (as well as the fact that his friend bet him $1000 that he couldn't do it). On his blog he's recording the health effects of all this Pepsi Spice drinking. Now, I've never had the stuff myself (though I plan to get some), but I seriously doubt that any soft drink is so bad that it would cause all the health problems he's experienced in the nine days since he started the project. For instance, he's already gained twenty pounds. He's started sneezing. He's developed a strange cyst on his neck. And his urine has turned red. He's blaming all this on the Pepsi Spice. The red urine... maybe. But I don't understand how anyone could gain that much weight in nine days just from switching what they drink, unless they were consuming huge amounts of the new drink (which he doesn't claim to be doing). So I'm guessing that he's making up most of the stuff on his blog. Either that, or he's allergic to the drink (in which case his health problems should be worse than they are).
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 24, 2004
Comments (18)
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