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July 2008
Apexart, in New York City, is currently hosting an exhibition titled "Nessie Does New York: Monetizing Myth, Legend & Culture." It's basically a collection of Nessie, Bigfoot, and Chupacabra-related kitsch.

Their downloadable exhibition brochure poses this question:

Is it the marketing of myth, or the myth of marketing that keeps these creatures alive? (Who knows?)
In other words, is it that we want to believe there's a small chance Bigfoot might show up on a logging road after we've savagely clear cut his habitat and ask for a room at the zoo and a royalty check? Or because no trip to Scotland would be complete without the requisite photo on the banks of Urquhart Bay while eating a sack of chocolate Loch Ness "droppings," and then buying a shot glass and a set of Nessie-emblazoned golf balls "for your friend"?

Where were the chocolate Nessie droppings when I was in Loch Ness? I didn't see those anywhere, and I definitely would have bought them.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 21, 2008
Comments (4)
You've just shelled out a couple hundred bucks for a new iPhone, and now you're paying outrageous monthly service charges in addition to that. So what can you do to show off your new status symbol? How about make it fart?

DoApp has introduced a whoopie cushion app for the iPhone:

This app includes 10 varieties of gas sounds. The user will be able to choose the right length and power to make the proper sound effect for the moment. In order to use this application, a user has to touch the iPhone once or swipe his finger across the screen.

But isn't the point of the prank to make it sound like someone else just farted? If you install this on your iPhone and play it during a meeting, everyone's going to be looking at you.
Categories: Gross, Pranks, Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 18, 2008
Comments (4)
The New York Times debunks the myth that "If you get a tattoo, you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery":

The eight rabbinical scholars interviewed for this article, from institutions like the Jewish Theological Seminary and Yeshiva University, said it’s an urban legend, most likely started because a specific cemetery had a policy against tattoos. Jewish parents and grandparents picked up on it and over time, their distaste for tattoos was presented as scriptural doctrine.

But even if the cemetery thing is a myth, some scholars believe that tattooing itself is against Jewish law:

Rabbi Alan Bright, a spokesman for the Jewish Funeral Directors of America, dismissed the cemetery adage as “a load of rubbish,” but he said that tattooing was a no-no. He quotes Deuteronomy 4:15, which commands Jews to take care of their bodies, as evidence. But he noted that Jewish law prohibits many things that secular Jews do without a second thought. “The Torah prohibits anything negative that affects the body,” he said. “Smoking is more of a violation of Jewish law.” As are drinking alcohol in excess and overeating.

Not being Jewish, Jewish law has played little role in the fact that I've never gotten a tattoo. Though I have considered getting a small jackalope tattooed on my ankle.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Religion
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 18, 2008
Comments (7)
I've received a few complaints about one of the ads running on the site, for People are worried it might be a porn ad. It's actually not. According to Federated Media it's "a satirical wikipedia stye guide to celebrities who behave badly."

Most of the ads on the site run through Google, and I have very little control over them. But a few run through Federated Media, and I have slightly more control over these. FM warned me this ad was scheduled to run, and I could have opted out of it, but (except for the name) I didn't think it was very offensive. Even the name -- aren't people allowed to say "dick" on TV? It doesn't seem like it's considered to be a taboo word.

But if enough people have a problem with it, I can certainly have it removed.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 17, 2008
Comments (16)
Photos of a Spiderman tattoo, showing an illusion of skin tearing away to reveal a Spiderman costume beneath, have been circulating around, prompting people to wonder if the images are real or photoshopped.

They are real. The tattoo is the work of Milwaukee-based artist Dan Hazelton. Check out his site for other examples of his work.

He very briefly discusses the Spiderman tattoo on his myspace page in response to a question from someone who asks, "can i get a tear out like the Spiderman one??" Hazelton responds:

please, no more tear outs. that tattoo is all over the internet and people are filling up my inboxes with all kinds of requests for comic or super heroes tearin out of them now. tear outs are a dated tattoo that the average public over used a long time ago. sorry but i dont encourage that.
Categories: Art, Body Manipulation, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 16, 2008
Comments (22)
It's not a hoax, but I feel compelled to note any news story even vaguely similar to Hippo Eats Dwarf. From the Rocky Mountain News:

A veteran worker at the Denver Zoo suffered a hand puncture today when a hippopotamus chomped down during routine dental training.
The woman keeper was bitten about 9:45 a.m. in the outdoor hippo exhibit as she and colleagues were doing desensitizing training on Mahali, a 5-year-old male, to make dental work more comfortable for the hippo.
"Mahali was doing this training where we ask him to hold his mouth open and while he holds his mouth open another keeper will tap on the teeth or do something to kind of desensitize the animal," said zoo spokeswoman Ana Bowie.
The training helps condition the animal "so he's more comfortable having hands or any dental tool in his mouth," she said.
"For unknown reasons, Mahali decided to close his mouth while one of our keepers had her left hand in his mouth," Bowie added.

It sounds like the keeper is doing okay. The hippo is totally oblivious that anything even happened.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 16, 2008
Comments (4)
Horse thievery used to be a huge problem. After the American Civil War it became so rampant in the West that it inspired the creation of a vigilante group that called itself the Anti Horse Thief Association. This group had, at one point, 30,000 members.

But horse theft is something I thought became obsolete with the widespread adoption of automobiles. Apparently not. Authorities in Tennessee are warning of a modern-day horse theft scam. People are showing up at farms claiming to be from Horse Haven (a humane organization for horses). They say they're there to take away the horses. Horse Haven does occasionally seize horses, if the horses are being neglected or harmed, but a Horse Haven spokesman says, "Horse Haven representatives always have ID, we operate within the law, and we never try to seize horses without law enforcement present."

If you have a horse, be on the lookout for these guys.
Categories: Animals, Con Artists, Scams
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Comments (4)
Baseball fans attending the recent Fan Fest in New York City had the chance to get memorabilia signed by C. Yeager of the Phillies. The problem: there is no "C. Yeager" playing for the Phillies. The man in the Phillies uniform was really just a guy who likes to dress up as a ballplayer so that, for a few minutes, he can enjoy the adulation of kids... before the police haul him away.

The Sporting Blog (who has video of the guy signing anything people stuck in front of him) writes: "He works for a regional sports media company in Philly and never played ball beyond high school."

I assume "C. Yeager" was a fake name.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Comments (7)
Now that the Dutch have banned smoking in bars, bar patrons have realized they can smell each other, and they don't like it. So a Dutch company, Rain Showtechniek, has created a machine that will create a fake tobacco smell. From The Telegraph:

"There is a need for a scent to mask the sweat and other unpleasant smells like stale beer," said Erwin van den Bergh, a spokesman for the company...
Unlike the real thing, the artificial tobacco smells do not have any health risks and does not linger in the hair or clothing of bar customers.

This might really be necessary, since I've noticed that deodorant seems to be less popular in Europe than it is in America.
Categories: Places, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Comments (10)
Found on eBay. Finally, you can give a rat's ass. For only $10.25!

I seriously wonder about the psychology of the person who makes these -- carefully removing the posterior portion of a rat's anatomy and mounting it on a piece of wood.

I wonder even more about the person who buys it. (I thought about it for a second, but then concluded that, no, the wife would kill me if I unveiled this.)

It fits into the genre of gag gifts that take popular expressions literally. The only similar item I can think of are "round tuits," but I know there are others.
Categories: Gross
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 13, 2008
Comments (8)
This news clipping has been doing the rounds:

Is it true? It does have urban-legend qualities to it, but a search of LexisNexis reveals that it was widely reported in April 2002. English-language papers credited the story to the Danish newspaper BT. The surgeon was identified as Jorn Kristensen. The Sun had this line:

Surgeon Jorn Kristensen said of the chain reaction: "No-one considered the possibility."

So, given the specific details, I'm going to say that it appears to be true my hunch is that it's true, but I'll list it as undetermined.
Categories: Gross, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 13, 2008
Comments (20)
I've been falling behind on my pareidolia updates. So I'm lumping all the recent sightings together in one post:

Spumoni Jesus
Some patrons of Hatch Family Chocolates in Salt Lake City claimed to be able to see the image of Jesus in a 3-gallon bucket of spumoni ice cream. Me: I can't see it at all. Spumoni Jesus started to melt, so they ate him. (Thanks, Bob!)

Face in Log
This one has been getting a lot of attention. Ernest Ward, a groundskeeper at Magnolia Cemetery in Maryville, Tennessee, cut a tree limb, revealing a discoloration that looks like a human face. (What, not Jesus?) The Telegraph thinks it looks like the Queen.

Palm Tree Jesus
A family in Margate, Florida spotted Jesus on a palm tree outside their home. The guy gets around. To me that face doesn't even look vaguely like the traditional, iconic representation of Jesus.

Texas Virgin Mary
The Herrera family of Midland, Texas spotted the Virgin Mary on a tree trunk outside their home. Many locals gathered at their house on the fourth of July to see it for themselves.

Winter Park Jesus
Joe Lewis, a resident of Winter Park, Florida, claims that shadows created by street lights outside his home form an image on a tree that looks a lot like Jesus.

Virgin of Guadalupe Found on Rock
California-resident Jaime Garcia says he was down-on-his-luck until he found a rock that seems -- to him at least -- to show an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe appearing before Saint Juan Diego. In the thumbnail, Garcia's rock is on the right, and on the left is a representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Finding the rock inspired Garcia to quit drinking and smoking. He says: "People used to think I'm crazy. Now, they're thinking different." Cranky Media Guy says: "Yeah, now they think he's out of his f---ing mind!"
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 13, 2008
Comments (12)
So here's the big announcement I mentioned in the last post. (No point in keeping the secret until Wednesday because it's already been leaked!)

I'm starting up a new weblog: Weird Universe. Joining me in this questionable endeavor are fellow weird-enthusiasts Chuck Shepherd (well-known for his "News of the Weird" syndicated column) and noted science-fiction author Paul Di Filippo (of the Steampunk Trilogy fame).

For a long time I've wanted a place to blog about weird, but not necessarily hoaxy, stuff, but I didn't want to start a new blog by myself. So Weird Universe seems like the perfect solution.

Of course, this doesn't mean the end of the Museum of Hoaxes. Far from it. I'm hoping it'll bring more readers to MOH. But if you send me a link and it seems more weird than hoaxy, I'll probably post it over at Weird Universe, rather than here.

Anyway, come on over to Weird Universe and check it out. It should be (fingers crossed) all functioning properly now.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 08, 2008
Comments (12)
Years ago I created a Hoax Photo Gallery for the site. But I recently decided that the Gallery was showing its age and needed an update. So I came up with the idea to replace it with a Hoax Photo Database.

I've been working on the Database for the past two months. It's one of those projects that, if I had realized how much work it was going to be, I would have hesitated to start. But I'm too far along to stop now, so I'm going to continue at it until it's done. (Which will be never, since it's designed to be a constantly growing database.)

My idea was to create a database in which I could list every significant (or interesting) example of photo fakery throughout history. Having them in a database would allow them to be categorized and viewed in any number of different ways. For instance, they can be viewed in chronological order, from the beginning of photography to the present. Or, if you're interested in fake war photography select the War category. All kinds of themes are possible, such as Photojournalism, or Doctored Magazine Covers, etc., etc.

I've only got about 90 images in the database so far, and there are hundreds more I plan to put in it. But adding the images will be a months-long effort, so I figured I might as well make the database public now so people can check it out, give feedback, etc.

There's also another project that's been keeping me busy for the past month, which is why I haven't been able to post that often. But I can only reveal what the other project is on Wednesday.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 08, 2008
Comments (6)
The BBC is on the hunt for a two-headed pheasant, after a photo of one, supposedly taken on the grounds of Himley Hall, near Dudley, was sent to them. The problem is, there are no one-headed pheasants living at Himley Hall, let alone two-headed ones. The BBC suspects a hoax:

an artist from Birmingham said the bird looked remarkably similar one of her creations. Annabel de Vetten, who used stuffed birds for the works, gave one away as a present and another has gone missing. She said the one given away could be in the hands of the people responsible for a hoax in 2004 which led people to believe a crocodile was loose in nearby Kingswinford.
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 08, 2008
Comments (4)
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