The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
October 2011
Smith College Goes Vegetarian
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 27, 2011
This one goes into the 'hoaxes as educational stunt' file. Last week a rumor raced around the campus of Smith College in Massachusetts, alleging that the administration was planning to ban meat from the campus, as well as any food not grown in New England. It was going to become a vegetarian/locavore campus. There were protests on campus, and counter-protests. Students posted their thoughts on facebook and twitter. Some wrote them in chalk on the sidewalk. A lot of students said they were worried the change would mean they'd have to go without coffee. But the rumor turned out to have been a hoax organized by two philosophy professors, Jay Garfield and Jim Henle.…
Categories: Education Comments (0)
The Fraser Island Crocodile
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 25, 2011
The Telegraph recently listed the beach on Queensland's Fraser Island as among the most dangerous in the world. The reasons: sharks, jellyfish, strong rip currents, deadly spiders, the odd saltwater crocodile, and dingoes. But people around Fraser Island disagree. They don't dispute the presence of the sharks, jellyfish, rip currents, spiders, and dingoes. (Though they don't think dingoes are dangerous). But they do insist there are no crocodiles there, except for one — which is fake. One of the locals owns a fake, but realistic-looking crocodile that he sometimes puts on the beach. Back in 2006 this crocodile made headlines in the Fraser Coast Chronicle when it scared some…
Categories: Animals, Places Comments (4)
Cows In The Library
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 25, 2011
Apparently Bethel College in Kansas has a history of pranks. Enough so that there's now a website dedicated to collecting all the pranks perpetrated there. The site has a great name: CowsInTheLibrary.com. The name refers to an actual prank at Bethel, but also (perhaps unintentionally) gives a nod to Neil Steinberg's classic book about college pranks, If At All Possible, Involve A Cow. Bethel's most famous prank is Herman Bubbert, a fictional student "who began appearing on class rolls and in the pages of local newspapers sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s." Bubbert is now the curator of Cows In The Library. (via mennoweekly.org)
Categories: Pranks Comments (1)
Cyclops Shark
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 24, 2011
An albino, one-eyed shark, an image of which started circulating online back in July, has been confirmed by scientists to be real. (Link: livescience.com). Which shouldn't have been a surprise. Like the case of Cy the one-eyed kitten (from back in 2006), the mutant shark suffered from cyclopia. According to messybeast.com, this is a genetic abnormality in which, "the eyes are fused into a single enlarged eye that is placed below the nose (the nose may or may not form, if it forms it resembles a proboscis)." One-eyed creatures are one of those phenomena that fit into the rule that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. In…
Categories: Animals Comments (3)
Sons of Clovis
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 24, 2011
There's a new hoax-related book out that sounds interesting: The Sons of Clovis: Ern Malley, Adore Floupette and a Secret History of Australian Poetry by David Brooks. From the Sydney Morning Herald review: At the heart of the book is the famous Australian hoax, the Ern Malley affair, in which two young, still-forming poets, McAuley and Stewart, fabricated the raw, working-class identity Ern Malley, only to have him die tragically young, leaving behind his book of experimental poems, The Darkening Ecliptic (1944). Equally - and this is where the detective work really kicks in - the book is also about a late- 19th-century literary hoax that…
The Case of the Monster Slipper
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 20, 2011
An article recently appeared in various British newspapers telling the story of one Tom Boddingham who ordered a size 14.5 slipper from Monster Slippers. But due to a translation error, the factory in China that makes the slippers sent a size 1450 slipper instead. Polly Curtis at the Guardian thought the story smelled a bit fishy. And with the help of some people on Twitter, she soon figured out that "Tom Boddingham" coincidentally looked identical to Joseph Jennings, the online retail manager for Monster Slippers. In other words, the entire story was a PR stunt. The thing about stories like this, which pop up with amazing regularity,…
Categories: Advertising, Products Comments (5)
Beyonce Baby Bump Controversy
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 12, 2011
Singer Beyonce Knowles announced she was pregnant in August. But video of a recent interview with her on an Australian TV show has led to rumors that she's faking her pregnancy, because as she walked out and sat down for the interview her stomach appeared to bend and fold in a weird way. The theory is that she's wearing a prosthetic baby bump, while a surrogate mother carries the actual child. This way, Beyonce will avoid the stretch marks and discomfort of pregnancy — and she'll look fit and toned immediately after "giving birth". I think the conspiracy theorists are reaching a bit here. And Beyonce, of…
Cardiff Giants Invade Pasadena
Posted by The Curator on Sun Oct 09, 2011
I use Google news alerts to find out whenever various keywords I'm interested in appear in news stories or on websites. One of these keywords is "Cardiff Giant". This particular keyword search doesn't usually generate many results. Perhaps one or two a week. But on friday night my patience was rewarded when I got a google news alert about the creation of a new site: cardiff1869.com. The site is the creation of a Pasadena-based artist who chooses to remain anonymous, using the alias "Cardiff1869". Inspired by the Cardiff Giant of 1869 (which I posted about just a few days ago), he (or perhaps she) is creating a limited series of small-scale replicas of…
Categories: Art, Exploration/Travel Comments (9)
Dobrica Cosic Doesn’t Win the Nobel Prize
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 06, 2011
Serbian media reported Thursday that one of their own countrymen, writer Dobrica Cosic, had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he hadn't. Soon after, the Swedish Academy announced the real winner: Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. The Serbian media reported Cosic as the winner because they had all received an email, seeming to come from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, announcing Cosic as the winner. The email linked to a website, nobelprizeliterature.org, that seemed to confirm Cosic as the winner. However, both the email and the site were fakes. (link) Apparently Cosic is a strong Serbian nationalist. The Economist describes him as, "the intellectual godfather of the…
Imaginary Girlfriends
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 06, 2011
The Huffington Post reports that FakeGirlfriend.co is a texting service that has joined the ranks of fake-girlfriend providers: you need to save the Fake Girlfriend number into your phone under her fictitious name. Then, when you're out with friends or a woman you're trying to make jealous, just text that number. You'll shortly get a text and then a pre-recorded call. In a similar vein, Cloud Girlfriend is a service that allows you to create a fake Facebook girlfriend. I wrote a bit about the history of imaginary online girlfriends in Hippo Eats Dwarf. The…
Categories: Sex/Romance Comments (3)
$16 Muffins
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 06, 2011
The legend of Out-Of-Control Government Expenditures is alive and well. Back in the 1980s, reports of the US government paying $400 for a hammer and $600 for a toilet sparked outrage. And now, late last month, came the news that the Justice Department had paid $16 a piece for muffins at a 2009 conference. But just as the hammer and toilet weren't really as expensive as they seemed, it turns out that the price of the muffins was an artifact of accounting. The $16 included the entire continental breakfast, service, and taxes. Of course, while the government may not be paying premium price for muffins, those bailouts to the bankers did seem a little steep.
Disney World Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 04, 2011
Time magazine offers a list of the Top 5 Disney World Urban Legends: Walt Disney built a special suite for himself in Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom. (Apparently this wasn't true while Disney was alive, though there is a suite there now in which special visitors can stay.)Cinderella's castle can be disassembled or made to sink into the ground to protect it from natural disasters such as hurricanes. In the case of a death at a Disney park, no one can be declared dead until their body leaves the park itself.There's a whole other park beneath the Magic Kingdom. (No, but there are utility corridors beneath it.)Disney's body was cryogenically frozen and is kept beneath the Pirates…
Categories: Places, Urban Legends Comments (10)
Live Forever Juice
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 04, 2011
Live Forever Juice is a fake product that was created for educational purposes by FDAImports, a consulting company that specializes in advising companies how to comply with FDA regulations. The idea was to make a food product whose packaging was full of illegal claims, then walk people through why the claims are illegal. (via: The Food Watchdog). The company handed out samples of Live Forever Juice at a recent trade fair in Baltimore. They also have an accompanying website, liveforeverjuice.com, on which they have some videos that explain what kind of claims companies are legally allowed to make on the packaging of their food products, and what claims they can't…
Categories: Advertising, Food Comments (1)
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