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November 2010
The Premise: A couple claims to be allowing the internet to vote on whether or not they'll have an abortion.

This has been getting a lot of attention on blogs over the past few days, and by now it's been definitively proven to be a hoax. Kevin Hoffman points out what I think is the most telling piece of evidence. The couple registered the domain name over two months before the baby was supposedly conceived. Also, the man behind the site has been identified as Pete Arnold, who is apparently a well-known right-wing troll.

So, in other words, this is just another cynical shock-style hoax designed to be offensive. (Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 23, 2010
Comments (17)
The news from Italy is that Silvio Berlusconi has been engaging in some wild "Bunga Bunga" parties. Or so says a 17-year-old Moroccan belly dancer who attended one of these parties. No one is really sure what a Bunga Bunga party entails, except that Berlusconi apparently learned the practice from Muammar Kaddafi, and it has something to do with sex.

On, Brian Palmer explores the mystery of just what Bunga Bunga might be. The leading theory is that it derives from an old joke in which some western explorers are caught by a primitive tribe and offered a choice between Death or Bunga Bunga. I've actually heard this joke before. The punchline is that when an explorer chooses death, after realizing Bunga Bunga involves some kind of awful sexual torture, he's told that it will be "Death by Bunga Bunga." At least, that's the version I heard. On Slate, Palmer tells a slightly different version.

Anyway, there's a hoax connection here, because "Bunga Bunga" also happens to be the phrase uttered by Horace de Vere Cole and his accomplices while hoaxing the British Navy in 1910 during the Dreadnought hoax.
Categories: Literature/Language, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 17, 2010
Comments (15)
Geoffrey Crawley, who played a role in debunking the Cottingley Fairy hoax, died recently on October 29. The New York Times ran an interesting article about his life. From the article:
From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, Mr. Crawley was editor in chief of the magazine British Journal of Photography. His 10-part series exposing the Cottingley fairy photographs as fakes appeared there in 1982 and 1983. Mr. Crawley had been asked to determine the authenticity of the photos in the late 1970s. “My instant reaction was amusement that it could be thought that the photographs depicted actual beings,” he wrote in 2000. But he came to believe, as he wrote, that “the photographic world had a duty, for its own self-respect,” to clarify the record.

I've always thought it was strange that it took sixty years for the fairy photos to be fully debunked, even though the hoax itself wasn't particularly sophisticated.
Categories: Death, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 16, 2010
Comments (7)
Last week I handed in the final section of my book manuscript to my publisher. I think I originally anticipated completing it in June or July. So yeah, it took me a little longer than anticipated.

The title, I've recently learned, is going to be Electrified Sheep. This refers to a series of experiments in which sheep were placed in lightning simulators. I didn't actually come up with this title. I suggested a whole bunch of other titles including The Indestructible Atomic Pig and Psychoneurotic Atomic Goats, but the publisher decided to go with the sheep. The lesson is that authors don't get to choose the titles of their books! But the sheep title has been growing on me. I like the fact that it evokes Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Anyway, I took a few days to decompress, and now I'm ready to turn my attention back to the Museum of Hoaxes. I'm not sure if there are any people still reading the site, except for the forum regulars... but that gives me the opportunity to make a fresh start and change things around a bit.

First of all, the comments pages need to be completely revamped, because the comment spam has run out of control. I'm thinking of making it so that all non-member comments have to be approved by a moderator, and all new members also have to be approved by a moderator. This will mean that far fewer comments get posted, but to me that's an acceptable trade-off.

And before I do that, I need to upgrade the entire site software, which will take a couple of days.

I also want to change around the front page of the site to highlight the fact that the site isn't just a blog, but is more like a blog sitting on top of a hoax encyclopedia. I want to put a "featured hoax of the day" on the front page, much like wikipedia has a featured article of the day.

So that's my plan.

I'd also like to say hello to everyone whom I haven't communicated with in almost a year. I'm finally back from secluding myself in the archives! I don't know why I write such research-intensive books. I guess I just like torturing myself. If I were smart I'd write my next book on a topic that doesn't require any research at all... maybe a novel about teenage vampires. I've heard those kind of books sell well -- a lot better than non-fiction books about sheep in lightning simulators, that's for sure!
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 15, 2010
Comments (29)