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January 2005
Here's the question: is it possible to get high by licking a catfish? According to this article by Tony Bridges, teenagers have recently been seen hanging around at docks around the Gulf of Mexico, asking fishermen if they have any extra catfish so they can lick them and get high. Supposedly something in the mucus that covers the skin of certain kinds of saltwater catfish contains hallucinogenic properties. I've heard this is true about some species of frogs, but whether it also holds true for catfish, I don't know. The article itself is noncommittal about whether the rumor is true. And, so far, I haven't been able to locate any credible research on the subject. My guess, without knowing anything about the biology of catfish, is that it's a load of codswallop.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 31, 2005
Comments (16)
Supper With The Stars is a British company that will arrange for a 'celebrity' to attend a party you're throwing. The idea is to wow your guests by having somebody famous show up. The catch is that, as Lindsay Marshall of Bifurcated Rivets puts it, all the stars you get to choose from are the 'essence of D-List'. Serious has-beens. Most Americans probably would never even have heard of the people on the list, such as Keith Harris, Diane Youdale, or Schnorbitz the Dog. The concept seems so odd and kind of sad that it's occurred to some people that it might all be a hoax, such as this LiveJournaler who notes that if you try to contact the company you get linked to a Hotmail address, which isn't exactly the sign of a well-established, real company. Trying to track down the company via its domain name info doesn't inspire much confidence either. They don't disclose their address or phone number on the domain name registration. Again, a little odd. What is the company trying to hide? Plus, all the celebrity photos on the site appear to have been simply taken from other sites. However, I did find this BBC article about the founder of the company, a 25-year-old Londoner named Louisa Loney. So I have to assume it's a real company. Maybe Louisa Loney runs it out of her home, which is why she won't disclose any address or contact info. (As an aside, my wife points out that some of the listed 'celebrities' are quite well known in England, such as Gordon Banks who's a legendary football player. I could imagine that sports fans would be excited to have him show up at a party.)
Categories: Celebrities
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 30, 2005
Comments (25)
Adrants reports on an interesting rumor. The recent forehead-ad auction on eBay may have been a hoax. Andrew Fischer, the guy who successfully auctioned his forehead for $37,375, seems to have had connections to SnoreStop (the company that won the auction) long before the auction occurred. Apparently he went to college with the daughter of SnoreStop's CEO... and the two of them colluded to pull off this pr stunt. The rumor has the ring of truth to it, because as Adrants says:

This entire thing was very iffy and scammy and media savvy, they even had a PR firm ready to give out photos in a jiffy. Who arranged all this to happen with such magic speed?

Plus, the idea of selling ad space on your forehead was hardly new. It had been done before, even on eBay. So it puzzled me why this guy in particular received so much attention. If it were all a carefully organized pr stunt, that would explain why.
Categories: Advertising, eBay
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 30, 2005
Comments (6)
An email has been going around urging people to sign this petition:

To:  George Bush
Some people are signing against anime and are calling is to be a "perverse, evil, insiduous form of animation from the dark land of Japan, and is corrupting America's youth at unprecedented rates." Anime is NOT corrupting the youth of America, and since when has America become a country of Christians? Isn't there a SEPARATION of Church and State? Isn't this a ban on our Freedom of Speech? And Freedom of Press? What does anime have to do with brainwashing our youth?


Even though I'm not sure what 'signing against anime' is supposed to mean, I do know that there is no movement underfoot by any politician to ban anime. But it's worth scrolling through the messages left by the 4129 people who signed the petition. Some of them are quite amusing.
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 29, 2005
Comments (205)
image A mysterious coin, dating from 1680, has experts puzzled. The coin in question appears to show a UFO. Or, if not a UFO, then a 'symbolic representation of the Biblical Ezekiel's wheel". One or the other "but little else" (according to Kenneth Bressett, former president of the American Numismatic Association). It really does look an awful lot like a modern representation of a UFO, but of course it's just present-day bias to think that because it looks like a UFO to us, that's what the coin maker intended it to be. However, I'm sure that many are going to seize on this as evidence of the existence of seventeenth century UFOs.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 29, 2005
Comments (25)
Ananova comes through with another incredibly believable story, this time about a Slovak man who claims that he freed himself from being trapped under an avalanche by peeing his way out. Thankfully he had 60 bottles of beer with him to help him in this endeavor. He was sitting there, trapped in his car beneath the snow, so he cracked open a beer, and then the brilliant idea came to him: I can pee my way out! They quote this guy as saying: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there." I would classify this as nothing more than 'pub talk', the kind of tall-tale that pub patrons make up to amuse each other. But for some reason it's being reported as news. (thanks to 'dvidiod' for sending me the story)
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 29, 2005
Comments (22)
She-is-here.com and its companion site, the-tape.com, seem to be fairly obvious marketing attempts to 'blairwitch' the upcoming sequel to the horror movie, The Ring (i.e. to create hoax websites to generate interest about it). But still, I've received a couple of worried emails from people who have watched 'the tape' and are a little concerned, so I thought I should post something about it. As far as I know, no stringy-haired decomposing girl is going to crawl out of a well and kill you if you watch the tape. Though I'm playing it safe. I made my wife watch the tape. She then made the cat watch it. My cat is the one posting this message (she hit the mouse button with her paw to click submit), so if any one of you watches 'the tape' she'll be safe.
Categories: Advertising, Paranormal, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 28, 2005
Comments (60)
Wm. Murray emailed me this interesting photo (click to enlarge). Can you guess if it's real or fake?
image
Answer: Apparently it's real (when I first looked at it I just assumed it was fake). From Wm.'s email: The dog and the bottle-nose dolphin were pals who "met" about every week or ten days at the beach in front of the Meridian Club on Pine Cay in the Turks & Caicos. My wife and I vacationed there in May 1990 and took many pictures of this strange pairing. We were told that it had been going on for some years prior to our visit. The dog (Taffy) would begin furious barking and race to the water's edge. Moments later the dolphin (JoJo) would come to the shore and they would romp together until enough people got into the water and the dolphin would swim away. Initially he(?) would move a ways along the shore away from the crowd with the dog following, then eventually leave after the people caught up to him a few times. JoJo would nip at Taffy's legs and Taffy would jump on the dolphin's back, leaving scratch marks. The whole thing would last 8-10 minutes and we saw it three different times over about twenty days. (I've since reused JoJo's image for a few of my hoax shots to simulate a shark in the pool or creek.)
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 28, 2005
Comments (13)
image I've posted previously about snake wine, which I thought sounded pretty gross, but I could understand how it was made. Snakes are simply added to rice wine. However, Army Worm Wine is another matter altogether. Ray Reigstad says that he makes this concoction directly from army worms (they're those creatures that hang in web-like tents from trees). In other words, he's not just adding them to rice wine. He's somehow fermenting the worms themselves to produce a wine that supposedly tastes like pinot grigio or white bordeaux. Here's how he says that it's done:

As far as the process goes, I simply treated them as a combination of a fruit and a flower, after all, they eat leaves. Other ingredients include sugar, water, champagne yeast (from Canada), yeast nutrient, pectic enzymes, acid blend and campden tablets. This wine was made in Duluth, Minnesota in small batches using highly sterile equipment. It registers approximately 11% alcohol on the vino-meter.

I'm not a wine expert (though I like drinking it), but just because the worms eat leaves doesn't mean they're sugary enough to ferment. Or does it? My gut instinct (for some reason) is to believe that this stuff is real, but I'd like to know more about how it's made.
Categories: Food
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 28, 2005
Comments (33)
Maybe I should just change the name of this site to the Museum of eBay Hoaxes. After all, there seems to be an endless supply of them. (actually, a weblog devoted to weird online auctions really might be interesting, though I'd be surprised if something like that doesn't already exist). Anyway, I've received a couple of emails giving me a heads up about even more eBay hoaxes. First, Lillian alerted me to a woman selling a 'schizophrenic's past'. But the auction had already been pulled by the time I checked. Then Steve emailed me about this auction in eBay motors of "Wonder Woman's Invisible Airplane". The accompanying picture is the best thing about it. Somewhat reminiscent of the New Stealth Bomber photo.
image
Categories: eBay
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 28, 2005
Comments (6)
image So where will this trend end? We've had head-vertising, ass-vertising, and tadoos (okay, tadoos were a hoax). So it shouldn't be any surprise that one woman is pioneering pregnant-belly-vertising on eBay. Is there any part of the body that advertisers won't pay to plaster their message on? Probably not. But is this woman going to walk around with her belly showing? Even if it's cold outside? It is Winter, after all.
Categories: Advertising, eBay
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 27, 2005
Comments (23)
image A curious bug in Microsoft's MapPoint site has been getting a lot of attention. If you ask for driving directions from Haugesund, Norway to Trondheim, Norway it will send you on a very strange route. Instead of going the direct route between the two cities, it will tell you to first cross the North Sea, drive down through England, cross the Channel, go east across Europe, and up through Sweden and Norway, until you finally arrive at your destination. Playing around with this a bit, I discovered that this weirdness doesn't apply only for directions from Haugesund to Trondheim. If you want to go almost anywhere from Haugesund (such as to Oslo or Copenhagen), MapPoint will send you via the North Sea route. However, it has no similar difficulty getting you TO Haugesund. Ask for directions from Trondheim to Haugesund and it'll send you right there. Also, if you ask for directions from Kopervik (which is right down the road from Haugesund) to Trondheim, it will send you on the correct (non-North Sea) route. Try this all out for yourself. Maybe there's some secret meaning here. Maybe Haugesund is one of those places that you can get to, but you're never supposed to leave (only by sea, and once you're there you'll discover that no ships are ever scheduled for departure). I mean, has anyone actually been to Haugesund and returned to tell about it? No one that I know of.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 27, 2005
Comments (12)
Back in November I posted something about a guy who claimed to have a 'hand of corn' (i.e. an ear of corn shaped like a hand). This struck a chord with Mr. Starbucks (that's his screen name) who remembered that his Grandmother claimed to have once found a piece of wood naturally shaped like a hand. He's now found his Grandma's wooden hand and sent me some pictures of it. He says that, "In my opinion, I think it's a hoax. How would a piece of wood form into that shape?" But, come on, Mr. Starbucks! It's your Grandma. If she says that's how she found it, then as her grandson it's your duty to believe her. Anyway, it'll sell better on eBay if you describe it as the demonic wooden hand of an evil tree spirit that's cursed your family for three generations.
imageimage
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 27, 2005
Comments (5)
image For almost twenty years Glaswegians have enthusiastically upheld a tradition of placing traffic cones on top of a statue of the Duke of Wellington that stands in the city center. You can even buy postcards and t-shirts displaying a cone-wearing Wellington. But now the fun might come to an end on account of art historian Gary Nisbet who claims that the cone prank threatens to seriously damage the 160-year-old statue. He's campaigning to get people who climb up on the statue charged with vandalism. Unfortunately this would make a number of the city councillors vandals. Nisbet's proposal doesn't seem to be going over well at all with the residents of Glasgow, most of whom seem to think the cone is the best thing about the statue.
Categories: Art, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 27, 2005
Comments (11)
Here's another example of why Ananova is so widely known as a credible source for news. The title of this latest journalistic gem: Ukrainian hasn't slept in 20 years. The article describes Fyodor Nesterchuk who just stays up reading while everybody else sleeps. The local doctor claims he has "examined Nesterchuk extensively" and can't find anything wrong with him, except for the fact that the guy never sleeps. Although I don't believe for a second that this guy has really gone for twenty years without even taking a nap, I have read articles speculating that in the future scientists might be able to eliminate, at a genetic level, our need for sleep. There's an interesting science-fiction novel, Beggars in Spain, that explores this concept.
Categories: Science
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 27, 2005
Comments (29)
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