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June 2007
image Le Petit Singly (it's a French-language website, but here's a translated version) claims to be a French farm that specializes in producing cheese out of "the mother's milk of woman." According to the blurb on their site, they've been doing this since 1947. They say that the breast-milk cheese has a caramel color and has a hint of hazelnut taste.

Of course, I think it would be technically possible to make cheese out of breast milk. (Although this woman in Indonesia reports that she tried to use her own breast milk to make some cheese and failed. Link via The Stranger. But she was doing it on her stove top. I think if a commercial producer really put their mind to it, they would have better success.)

I actually briefly discussed this question in Hippo Eats Dwarf, in the context of debunking a site that claimed to produce cheese from lactating rats. I wrote that, "The problem is that the cheese's flavor is influenced by whatever the milk producer eats. So you would want vegetarian milk donors, unless you like cheese that tastes like rotting milk."

The Le Petit Singly site mentions nothing, that I can find, about the diet of the female milk donors. This is one sign that it's a hoax. Another sign is the ads they have on their site, and the fact that it's hosted on a lycos account. A real company would presumably at least shell out the $20 to get their own domain name. (via Why Travel To France)

Update: Looks like Le Petit Singly does discuss the diet of the milk donors. (Thanks, penny!) But I still think it's a hoax.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Food
Posted by Alex on Sat Jun 09, 2007
Comments (21)

Man blames health drink for unwanted erection (Bebelicious)
New Yorker Christopher Woods underwent surgery in 2004 for severe priapism – an erection that would not subside. Now he’s suing pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, claiming that their nutritional drink, Boost Plus, was the cause of his condition.

Can’t remember the name of a song? Try tapping it on your keyboard! (DJ_Canada)
This programme allows you to tap the melody of a song using your space bar to try to identify it. Results appear to be user-submitted, so they're a little hit and miss. No pun intended.

Yahoo’s list of sunscreen myths (Dily)
A Yahoo writer, Leslie Baumann, M.D., has posted a short list of common mistakes people make when considering protection from the sun.

Woman arrested for making faces at a dog (Slender Loris)
Charges have been dropped against Jayna Hutchinson from Lebanon after she was arrested for "staring at [the police dog] in a taunting/harassing manner."
Categories: Animals, Entertainment, Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 08, 2007
Comments (10)
I was inspired by the news story about the mayor's face in a tree to search out other examples of faces in trees. I knew that stories about faces in trees pop up regularly in the news, but to my knowledge no one had ever collected these stories together in one place. So it seemed like an appropriate thing to waste a couple of hours doing. I posted the results in the hoaxipedia. It's more faces in trees than you can shake a stick at.
Categories: Mass Delusion, Pareidolia, Psychology, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 08, 2007
Comments (0)
image Donald Stephens, Mayor of Rosemont in Illinois for fifty-one years, died on April 18. But now he's come back. On a tree. The Chicago Tribune reports that:
Eerily, a likeness of the late mayor's face has appeared on a tree outside the village-owned health club, according to some people who have seen it. In a town still grieving for the larger-than-life mayor, who died April 18, the mysterious image is sure to add to the Stephens mystique.
I find it amazing that people think it's the late mayor and not Jesus. Though, according to the article, some observers did initially think it resembled Jesus. Apparently, to really see the resemblance, you need to stand inside the health club and look out at the tree through the glass doors. And probably having a couple shots of whisky doesn't hurt either. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Death, Paranormal, Pareidolia
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 07, 2007
Comments (13)
George May had a clever idea: Let oysters soak in a solution of Viagra for a while, and then sell them as Viagra Oysters. Of course, Pfizer is objecting to this use of its drug, and food-safety officials don't like the idea of selling purposefully contaminated oysters. But still, May is confident he's got a successful product on his hands, and his idea has received quite a lot of media attention. So it pleased him, but didn't surprise him, when he received the following email from Google's corporate offices:
"Congratulations! The Viagra oyster story is the fastest growing internet story since 9/11 with over 700,000 links in 24 hours."
Except, of course, Google doesn't send out congratulatory letters of this kind. If they did, they'd constantly be congratulating whoever was the latest internet-celebrity-of-the-day. The email was the work of a prankster who forged the "from" field. Or was it? Perhaps May cooked up the email himself to gain a little more media attention for himself. He's denying this allegation, but it seems plausible to me since he's the one benefitting from the hoax -- and because his first reaction on receiving the email was to call the media and tell them about it.
Categories: Email Hoaxes
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 07, 2007
Comments (8)
My wife is a big fan of all the home-design shows that are on TV, so I end up watching a lot of them also, including "Flip This House" on A&E. The show follows people who buy homes, remodel them, and then try to sell them for a higher price. It can be entertaining, but I wasn't surprised to read that at least one of the house flippers featured on the show, Atlanta businessman Sam Leccima, was a fake:
McGee and others say Leccima's episodes of Flip This House, A&E's most popular show, were elaborate hoaxes. His friends and family were presented as potential home buyers and ``sold'' signs were slapped in front of unsold houses. They say the home repairs -- the lynchpin of the show -- were actually quick or temporary patch jobs designed to look good on camera.
Leccima said he never claimed to own the homes. While not acknowledging his televised renovations were staged, he didn't deny it and suggested that A&E and Departure Films, the production company that makes the show, knew exactly what he was doing.
"Ask anybody who works in television how a reality show is made and you'll find that ours was a very typical approach,'' Leccima said in a telephone interview.
But actually, there's really no need for 'Flip This House' to fake episodes, because often the most entertaining episodes are the ones where the people have no clue what they're doing and end up saddled with a home they can't sell. (At least, I find those episodes to be the most entertaining.)
Categories: Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 07, 2007
Comments (4)
Inspired by the urban legend that if all the people in China jumped at once it would alter the orbit of the Earth, German scientists (working in participation with a German TV show) staged an experiment at a music festival. They arranged for all 50,000 people at the concert to jump at once, and then measured the results. They called it a "gang boing." Here's what happened:
In the end, the hoppers created "a mini-mini-earthquake," according to Ulrich Grünewald, who produced the segment for a science program on German television. The ground moved one-twentieth of a millimeter, with four oscillations per second. Scientists from Germany’s Geological Research Institute measured movement up to a kilometer away...

"We showed that people cannot start a (real) earthquake by hopping," Grünewald told the dpa news service. An actual earthquake would contain billions of times more energy than the jumping Germans produced.

Categories: Science, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 06, 2007
Comments (4)
Writer Lynne McTaggart has been sponsoring a number of "experiments" to promote her book The Intention Experiment, in which she makes the argument (from what I can surmise without actually having read the book) that we can influence the world around us through our intentions. If we want something to happen, we merely intend for it to happen.

Here's a description of the first three experiments:
The first experiment was an enormous success when 400 people sat in a hall in London and intended for a leaf in the University of Arizona to 'glow and glow'. The results were highly significant - so much so that the results can be seen on photographs from special imaging systems.

The second experiment that took place was a web-based trial in which 7,000 people participated. The target this time was stringbean seeds, and again the intention was to make them glow. The results were highly significant in terms of 'glow effect', but too few beans were used to achieve a statistical significance.

The third experiment once again involved a leaf, and so was a web version of the successful experiment in the hall with participants intending in the same space. Computer glitches stopped many from participating, and the results were inconclusive.
This makes me realize that I've been going about gardening all wrong. I've been weeding and watering and fertilizing. Instead, all this time I should have just been intending. Better yet, I should get all the readers of the Museum of Hoaxes to intend for me. If everyone intends for the bare patches in my lawn to disappear, I should have a beautiful lawn in no time. And if everyone would intend for my lawn to glow, that would be pretty cool too. Though it might make my neighbors slightly concerned.
Categories: Psychology, Science
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 06, 2007
Comments (22)
The software that I use to run this site comes with a "wiki module," which allows the capability to add a wikipedia-style encyclopedia to the site. For the past few weeks I've been working on getting this feature working. It's still very much a work-in-progress, but I think it's at a point where I can let everyone see it. I'm calling it the Hoaxipedia.

I'm slowly transferring all of the content contained in the various "galleries" of the museum into the Hoaxipedia. It's going to be a slow process. So far I've only transferred a handful of articles. But the nice thing about transferring the content into the Hoaxipedia is that it allows me to categorize the articles much more easily. It also makes it easier to edit existing content and add new material.

Another interesting feature of the Hoaxipedia is that any registered member of the Museum of Hoaxes can add or edit content. I suspect that I'll be the one adding most of the content for the foreseeable future, but in the past people have asked me if there was any way they could contribute articles to the Museum, and now there is an easy way for them to do that. If you're interested, please try it out -- even if it's just to write some hoax haiku to accompany some articles.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 05, 2007
Comments (4)
One year ago I posted about an inventor, Lester Clancy, who had filed a patent for a ropeless jump rope. I noted that a jump rope that lacked a rope seemed to defeat the purpose of a jump rope. You might as well just jump up and down holding a pair of dumbbells. But now a company has come out with a commercial version of a cordless jump rope. They're calling it the JumpSnap. They claim that it's the "world's first and only patent-pending computerized ropeless jump rope."

The inventor of the JumpSnap is Brad LaTour. It sounds like there might be a patent battle brewing between Clancy and LaTour. Who first invented the ropeless jump rope? The major difference between the two inventions seems to be that the JumpSnap sports a computer that makes a swishing noise as you swing it.

Again, I think it would be a lot easier (and cheaper) just to jump up and down with some weights.
Categories: Sports, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 05, 2007
Comments (7)
It's student-prank time, and every year we see some good pranks, as well as a few that don't turn out so well. Here are three of the latter kind.

Urinating in the ketchup
"A sophomoric prank put a 15-year-old Valhalla boy in a legal pickle after he was arrested for allegedly urinating into a ketchup dispenser in the Valhalla Middle/High School cafeteria... It was not known whether any of the 200 students in the cafeteria during the second lunch period ingested the tainted ketchup. All condiment dispensers were replaced with sealed individual packets the next day."

Dead cats hung from trees
"San Luis Obispo High School is home of the tigers, but on Tuesday morning it looked more like a cat cemetery. Over the Memorial Day weekend, the science shed was broken into and the bodies of 17 cats used in anatomy class for dissection had been randomly hung on various trees around the high school campus."

Massive foodfight
"Three high school students were arrested after a food fight by 200 students left a police officer with a broken foot, officials said. West Aurora High School students threw french fries, milk, sandwiches and pizza slices at each other Thursday during what administrators called a senior prank that went wild. 'It was just insane," said senior Zach Little. "Things like milk cartons, full pop bottles and blue slushies were flying around. Kids literally bought the food to throw it .'" A police officer who tried to stop it ended up with a broken foot, and another school official suffered minor injuries. (It's unfortunate that people got injured, but it actually sounds like it was kind of fun.)
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 05, 2007
Comments (3)
image Want to own a leopard? That probably wouldn't be legal, but for $22,000 you can have the next best thing. A company called Lifestyle Pets is selling what it claims is a cross between an African Serval, an Asian Leopard Cat and a domestic cat. So it's like a smaller, tamer version of a leopard. They call this cat an Ashera. Their product page says, "Fully socialized, the Ashera gets along well with children and other pets and unusually for cats, the Ashera takes well to being walked on a leash."

At first when I saw the Lifestyle Pets website, I thought it was some kind of elaborate hoax in the vein of GenPets. But the Ashera seems to be real. At least, it's being widely reported in the news. And these cats look big! (Well, big for cats.) I don't think any other cats in the neighborhood would mess with them. Not many dogs would either, I would bet. It would look pretty cool walking one of these cats around the neighborhood, but for $22,000 they're a bit out of my price range.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 04, 2007
Comments (76)
Botched Fax Prompts “Terrorism” Scare (MadCarlotta)
Police shut down a strip mall in Boston on Wednesday after a branch of Bank of America received a faulty fax. The fax, which had been sent out by the bank's corporate office, had left off some of the text, leaving some dubious clip art. The plaza was evacuated for around three hours.

Roswell Theme Park (Madmouse)
Roswell city officials plan a UFO-themed amusement park that could open as early as 2010. Local shopkeepers base a large proportion of their trade around the UFO craze, and believe that the theme park would give tourists more to do whilst visiting.

Dutch Reality Show: Win This Person’s Kidney! (Slender Loris)
Earlier this week, Dutch TV station BNN announced their latest reality show. The premise was that a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour would choose which of three contestants to donate a kidney to before she died. The Big Donor Show immediately sparked international furore, with mixed attitudes towards the show's concept. Today, it was revealed that the show was a hoax. Whilst it still aired, the woman playing the potential donor was perfectly healthy and, although the three contestants were in need of replacement kidneys, they were fully aware of the show's real premise. The show was aired and advertised as it was to draw attention to the shortage of donor organs in the Netherlands. Judging from the international coverage, they succeeded.

Japanese Ghost Girl (Boo)
Youtube hosts yet another unconvincing 'ghost' video. Look for the point where the special effects kick in.

Car made of cake (Nettie)
Photos of a Skoda advertisement wherein they make a whole car from cake.

An intriguing and mysterious website (Beasjt's number is 669)
Can you decipher the code?
image Something is stirring in Loch Ness.

Earlier this month, amateur scientist Gordon Holmes filmed a mysterious shape swimming beneath the surface of Loch Ness. In the footage, you can see a dark shape gliding along. Unfortunately, whatever it is, it never breaks the surface of the water, thus denying us any easy way to identify it.

Holmes says that he filmed the creature at 9:50 pm from a layby on the A82:
"I was minutes from going home but I saw something moving and dashed out of the car and switched the camcorder on. About 200 yards away from me I could see something in the water. It was definitely a creature propelling itself through the water. It was fairly bubbling along the water. It was streaking along."

The media is describing his footage as the best Nessie footage ever. The question I'm interested in is not whether or not this might be evidence of Nessie (I don't think it is), but whether this is some kind of intentional hoax. My hunch is that it's not. It's probably just a case of someone who happened to film something unusual. Maybe it's a fish, or a trick of the light, or a stray Museum of Hoaxes reader who didn't realize that the trip to Loch Ness was last year, not this year. If this footage came from anywhere else in the world other than Loch Ness, it wouldn't raise any eyebrows. But of course, it does come from Loch Ness, so it's receiving all kinds of media attention.

Credit goes to Stargazer for posting about this in the forum before I managed to post it here. However, this seemed like too big of a story for me not to put it on the front page. (And thanks to all the people who emailed me about it.)

You can see some of the video footage here, or on YouTube. (thanks to MadCarlotta for finding these links.)

And check out my list of Loch Ness Monster Hoaxes for some retrospective on sightings in the Loch.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 01, 2007
Comments (12)
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