The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
July 2009
Dissolvable Bikini
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 31, 2009
In 1940 Curtis MacDougall wrote in his book Hoaxes about a journalistic hoax involving dissolving bathing suits: Webb Miller in I Found No Peace revealed that the story from the French Riviera of a British millionaire who embarrassed his guests by inducing them to swim in bathing suits which dissolved in salt water was a pure fake. The reporter inventing it was ordered by his managing editor to ship several of the suits to the United States; he complied with an hermetically sealed box containing some finely pulverized breakfast food to create the impression that, despite precautions, the suits had dissolved…
Categories: Fashion Comments (8)
Michael Jackson in Clouds
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 31, 2009
New Michael Jackson pareidolia (jackodolia). A 43-year-old builder from Stafford "who happens to be a bit of a skeptic" took this picture of his car. He intended to send the picture to a car sales magazine, until he noticed the image of Michael Jackson formed by the reflection of clouds on its hood. (youtube)
Categories: Celebrities, Pareidolia Comments (8)
Kuda Bux and Eyeless Vision
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 29, 2009
On the Raffaele De Ritis' Novelties and Wonders blog I found an old video of Kuda Bux, a performer who claimed to have x-ray eyes. He would cover his eyes with putty, cotton wool, and gauze bandages. Then he would challenge people to write any word, in any language, on a blackboard, and he would be able to magically reproduce what they had written. Kuda Bux claimed it was psychic ability that allowed him to see while blindfolded, and according to Wikipedia his act inspired Roald Dahl to write the short story of Henry Sugar.…
Categories: Magic, Paranormal Comments (16)
Acupuncture Exam
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 29, 2009
DC's Improbable Science has posted a pdf file of the exam given to those studying medical acupuncture at the University of Salford. Fans of acupuncture have long been lobbying for it to get more respect from the medical community, but as the DC Science blog points out, this exam appears to be nothing but gobbledygook. Here are several of the questions that exam takers must answer:
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (14)
Are women getting more beautiful?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 28, 2009
The Times Online reports on a recent study by University of Helsinki researcher Markus Jokela, who found that women are getting more beautiful: Scientists have found that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors. The article doesn't mention where Jokela published his study, so I'll have to go by the article's description of his work. But on the basis of that, his claim is absurd. Beauty isn't something like height that can be objectively tracked and measured over time. Standards of beauty change over time and…
Categories: Fashion, Science Comments (13)
Man claims to be allergic to Wifi
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 28, 2009
DJ Steve Miller claims that he is allergic to Wifi. Being caught near a Wifi connection causes him agonizing pain. From the Daily Mail: The condition, known as electromagnetic sensitivity, affects two per cent of the population, and this is set to grow as more people opt for wireless internet signals. Steve navigates normal daily chores with the help of a ‘wi-fi detector’ which spots areas he should avoid. But the sensitivity has made moving house a real mission for Steve, who has needed to avoid homes close to a connection. He said: ‘I can’t live within 50 yards…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Technology Comments (14)
Michael Jackson’s Nose, the legend continues
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 27, 2009
A rumor is circulating alleging that a) Michael Jackson wore a prosthetic nose, and b) someone has stolen that nose from the Los Angeles morgue. The rumor about Jackson wearing a prosthetic nose dates back to at least 2002, when Jackson appeared in Santa Maria Superior Court wearing a large bandage on his nose. But this latest addition to the rumor means that Michael Jackson's nose joins that select group of human body parts that acquire a life in legend following the death of the person to which they were originally attached. It's almost inevitable that years from now something alleged to be Jackson's prosthetic nose will…
Categories: Body Manipulation, Death Comments (7)
Margaret’s Stain
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 27, 2009
A stain, shaped like a human body, can be found on the concrete floor of the Athens Mental Health and Retardation Center in Athens Ohio. According to legend, this stain marks the location where the body of a patient, Margaret Schilling, lay undiscovered for several weeks back in 1979. A team of forensic scientists recently tested the stain to determine whether it's a genuine human decomposition stain, or if it was created artificially. They published the results of their investigation in the Nov 2008 issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences (vol 53, no. 6), "Analysis of Suspected Trace Human Remains from an Indoor Concrete Surface."
Categories: Death, Pareidolia, Science Comments (10)
Top 10 Hoaxes List plagiarizes me
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 24, 2009
Cranky Media Guy drew my attention to a list of the "Top 10 Hoaxes of all time" posted by Kelvin Lynch on examiner.com. Cranky asks: "Haven't we seen this exact list before... recently, in fact?" I can't recall if this list had been posted elsewhere recently, but as I was reading through it, I felt that a lot of the language was strangely familiar. And then I realized why this was so. Much of the text has been lifted directly from the print version of The Museum of Hoaxes, published back in 2002. For instance, here's part of what I wrote in my book about the Surgeon's Photo: …
Categories: Miscellaneous Comments (20)
Did Robert Capa fake the ‘falling soldier’ photo?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 22, 2009
Robert Capa's photo of a soldier falling backward from the impact of a shot to his head is one of the most famous images in the history of photography. But for decades people have argued that Capa staged the shot. In the hoax photo archive I have a brief summary of the controversy. I come down on the side of those who feel the photo wasn't staged. Adding new fuel to the controversy, a Catalan newspaper now claims to have found evidence that Capa staged the shot. From The Independent:
Categories: Military, Photos/Videos Comments (2)
Another fake cancer victim
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 22, 2009
Yet another cancer hoaxer unmasked. Jonathan Jay White claimed to be a 15-year-old from Idaho suffering from Anaplastic Astrocytoma (a kind of brain cancer). He gained a lot of supporters online, including Lance Armstrong, who sent him a number of gifts. But it now appears that Jonathan Jay White never existed. Details at news.sky.com and jonthanjayisafraud.blogspot.com.
The Manhattan Airport Foundation
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 22, 2009
The Manhattan Airport Foundation is a hoax site purporting to promote the conversion of New York's Central Park into an airport. Clues that the site is a hoax: a) it's registered anonymously; and b) the foundation lists its address as "233 Broadway, 58th Floor, New York, New York." 233 Broadway is the Woolworth Building, which only has 57 floors. Apparently, the Huffington Post didn't realize the site was a joke, and posted a link on its front page about the plan to build an airport in Central Park. (via gawker)
Categories: Websites Comments (4)
The Vinland Map, the controversy continues
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 20, 2009
Every few years I post an update about the Vinland Map (a map, supposedly from the early 15th century, showing part of North America). In 2002 I posted that an analysis of the map's ink proved it was a fake, but in 2003 I wrote that a new study indicated it might be genuine. And in 2004 I linked to a Scientific American article that described historian Kirsten Seaver's theory that the map was created in the 1930s by a German Jesuit priest, Father Josef Fischer, in order to tease the Nazis by "playing on their claims of early Norse dominion of the Americas and…
Categories: History Comments (5)
Vinayak Gorur, sous chef
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 20, 2009
On May 13, 2009 the Ahwatukee Foothills News ran an article about Vinayak Gorur, a local guy who, at the age of 21, had become the youngest ever sous chef at the upscale Compass Restaurant in downtown Phoenix. But a few days ago, the paper ran an apology, admitting that Gorur wasn't really a sous chef at the Compass. Gorur had invented the entire tale. Why isn't clear. A few things evidently went wrong in the paper's fact checking process. First, they never called the Compass Restaurant to verify Gorur's claim. Instead, the reporter interviewed someone (whose phone number was supplied by Gorur) who claimed to be Gorur's boss. It's not known who…
No Flesh-Eating Robots
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 20, 2009
About two weeks ago, rumors began to spread online about a flesh-eating robot created by the military. The robot, named the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™), would be a reconnaissance droid that could survive for long periods behind enemy lines by foraging for fuel. This fuel would include virtually any kind of biomass: twigs, branches, apple cores, stray cats, or even human bodies. The robot, it turns out, is real, but the claim that it will be able to feed on human bodies is false. The companies building the robot, Cyclone Power Technologies and Robotic Technology Inc., issued a press release addressing the rumor:
Categories: Food, Technology Comments (6)
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