The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
HOME   |   ABOUT   |   FORUM   |   CONTACT   |   FACEBOOK   |   RSS
The Top 100
April Fool Hoaxes
Of All Time
April Fool Archive
April fools throughout history
Hoax Photo
Archive

Weblog Archive
October 2009
Lorena writes to ask:

You seem to know a lot about hoaxes so....I am doing some
research, and I was asked if the story about Stalin sending black orchids
to Eva Peron's funeral are a hoax. Problem is, I can't even find stories
about it at all. Have you ever heard this?

I'm flattered Lorena thinks I might be knowledgeable enough to have the answer to this, but unfortunately I've never heard the story before and can't find any references to it. In a July 28, 1952 Associated Press article, "Mile-Long Lines View Remains," I found a reference to the flower arrangements at Peron's funeral:

The blonde wife of President Juan D. Peron lay in state in the hall of the labor ministry, in a glass-topped casket of mahogany, draped in white orchids, awaiting a full military funeral tomorrow afternoon. Tons of lilies, roses and carnations packed the hall and overflowed into the streets outside. Crowds of somberly dressed sober-faced mourners were first admitted to the improvised chapel Sunday afternoon and continued in an endless procession throughout the night and morning.

No mention of black orchids or Stalin.

A recent article in the journal International Affairs ["Stalin Meets the Argentine Ambassador," 3(52), 2006, 175-181], discusses a 1953 meeting between Stalin and Leopoldo Bravo, the Argentine ambassador in Moscow. During the course of their conversation Stalin apparently mentioned his interest in Eva Peron:

Other issues were also discussed during the conversation. Stalin was particularly interested in why Peron's wife—Eva Peron—was so popular, was it her personality, or the fact that she was the president's wife. Not an easy question to answer, particularly since Eva had died six months before. The ambassador's reply implied that she was popular for both reasons.

But again, no mention of Stalin having sent black orchids to her funeral.

I should also point out that while there are plants commonly referred to as "black orchids," they're not actually black. They're a dark maroon or brown. There is no such thing as an orchid that is truly black. The Auckland Museum is currently hosting an exhibit, Wonderland: The Mystery of the Orchid. According to them:

A few species of orchids have acquired the name "Black Orchid" by virtue of their very dark intense colour, while not black, which tends to the dark brown and maroon.
One of these is the Australian native orchid, Cymbidium canaliculatum var. sparkesii, a form of C. canaliculatum that has rich intense dark maroon flowers, with a touch of white and dark purple on the labellum. A species of the drier open eucalyptus forest, it grows high in the trees from hollow branches and crevices. The spikes are produced in numbers and bear many deep maroon flowers which are fragrant.
The original "black orchid", Trichoglottis brachiata (or T. philippinensiis var. brachiata), an erect monopodial species that likes to climb, is an entirely different type of orchid from the perching Cymbidium. T. brachiata is native to Borneo, Philippines and Sumatra and the many flowers are produced at the nodes along the stem. Each flower is up to 5 cm across, a rich velvety dark maroon, the lip prominently marked purple. The flowers are fragrant and long lived.
Categories: Politics, Science
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 21, 2009
Comments (8)
Even though the famous atheist’s body [Madalyn Murray O’Hair] was discovered in 1998 and positively identified in Texas -- and even though she apparently has been dead since she disappeared in 1995 -- patently false rumors about her alleged anti-Christian campaigns continue to spread. Credulous Christians who once forwarded these kinds of rumors in mimeographed chain letters or spread them on talk radio now can broadcast them around the world with the mere click of a mouse.

Link: apbnews.com
(Thanks, Big Gary!)
Categories: Religion, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 21, 2009
Comments (7)
I've recently started work on a new book, which is the reason for my absence from the site. I need to deliver the manuscript to the publisher (Macmillan) by June 2010. I assume it will be published in late 2010 or early 2011. The title is still undecided, but the book will essentially be a sequel to Elephants on Acid — though sequels are always worse than the original, so I prefer to think of it as an entirely new project that also happens to be about bizarre things done in the name of science.

Other people seem to be able to work on several projects simultaneously, but I just can't do it. So after working all day on researching and writing about science, I find it very hard to mentally switch gears and think about what hoaxy things to post on the site.

Nevertheless, as days go by and I don't post anything, I start to feel a nagging sense of guilt. So in order to alleviate this sense of guilt, what I'm going to try to do is to post stuff, but make it as short and simple as possible. Essentially just a link and a quotation. My theory is that if I don't have to think much about what I'm posting, I may be inclined to post more often. That's better than not posting at all... at least until the book is done.

We'll see how it goes. If you all see any hoax-related items in the news, forward me the links, and that'll make my job even easier.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 16, 2009
Comments (8)
Patty Henken found a small envelope in a rocking chair she bought at auction. In the envelope was a key and a note giving her directions to where $250 in U.S. gold coins was supposedly buried in a lead chest. The note was signed "Chauncey Wolcott." There was also a request to contact the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, if the treasure was found. The Associated Press tells the rest:

With help of a donated backhoe, Patty Henken tore up a vacant lot in Springfield, Ill...
The dig turned up nothing but bricks and old bottles. Henken planned to return Tuesday with the donated services of a man with ground-penetrating radar meant to detect any buried items, but the treasure note's promise may already be debunked.
An Iowa woman who read news accounts of the hunt said she knows Wolcott's true identity: John "Jay" Slaven, a notorious practical joker and coin collector who often used a typewriter in his pranks.
Slaven used the pen name "Chauncey Wolcott" and lived for decades at the location where the dig took place, until his 1976 death, according to Betty Atkinson Ryan of Mason City, Iowa.
Categories: Death, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 05, 2009
Comments (12)