The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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A black lion: real or fake?
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907

Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
Adolf Hitler Baby Photo Hoax, 1933
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
Loch Ness Monster Hoaxes
A black lion: real or fake?
Rory Emerald
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 05, 2008
Rory Emerald is a serial prankster who's modus operandi is placing fake classified ads claiming to have found bizarre items. Some of the things he's claimed to have found include "Laura Bush's gold cigarette case and lighter, a two-headed kitten, Eva Peron's inauguration gown and diamond scepter, Leonardo da Vinci's original paint brushes and palette, an ice sculpture of SpongeBob SquarePants and a life-size wax figure of Herman Munster." I posted about him two weeks ago when he claimed to have found H.G. Wells' time machine, but he's back in the news, in two different cities. He made headlines in the Monterey County Herald for an ad claiming to have found Doris Day's pearl necklace and…
Categories: Pranks Comments (12)
Petrified Foot
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 04, 2008
Bob (aka Cranky Media Guy) sent me a link to an article about "Scientific Hoaxes" scanned from the Dec. 1931 issue of Modern Mechanix magazine. I love old popular-science magazines like this. They're a great source of strange information. Unfortunately whoever scanned this article missed two pages, so you skip from a discussion of the Central Park Zoo Escape straight into a discussion of the Cardiff Giant. Nevertheless, the image of a "petrified foot" on the front page caught my curiosity. The caption reads: "A water-worn stone was once offered to the Smithsonian Institute as a petrified foot. Note the striking resemblance." The article offers no more information about this unusual…
Categories: Pareidolia, Science Comments (12)
Quick Links: Feb 1, 2008
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 01, 2008
Dave, the forecasting pig "'Darke County Dave,' a local hog, will opine -- or oswine -- on America's economic outlook on Friday, the Ohio treasurer's office said. In his inaugural outing, Dave will choose between a trough of sugar or one of sawdust to gauge the the economy's future course at the event in Greenville, Ohio, northwest of Dayton." (Thanks, Gary) How to say "Mr. Rose Apple Nose" in Thai sign language "Sign language interpreters in Thailand have run afoul of some ruling party supporters by holding their noses to refer to the new prime minister." Big Gary comments: "Here's another of those 'awkward translation' stories, this one apparently true. I didn't know what a 'rose apple' is, so I looked…
Mayor uses magazine picture of himself as ID
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 01, 2008
A few days ago papers reported a weird news item about Charleston mayor Danny Jones who used a picture of himself in Charleston magazine to ID himself before boarding an airplane. Turns out that "impromptu IDs" are a perennial urban-legend theme. The Legends & Rumors blog has collected a long list of them. The examples include a case of a porn star who showed a nude picture of herself in a magazine to ID herself while cashing a check, as well as a nineteenth-century case of a man who used his name written on his shirt flap as ID in a bank. Of course, this doesn't mean that the story about Mayor Jones is false. But it…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (8)
Banning Patio Heaters
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 01, 2008
Last year the Daily Mail ran an April Fool's Day article in which it claimed that Brits would have to pay a "carbon offset" tax if they wanted to barbecue in their backyards: IT IS one of the timeless rituals of the new globally-warmed great British summer: firing up the barbecue and slinging on a steak. But people who choose to burn charcoal may have to think twice as councils now have swingeing new powers to force homeowners to buy 'carbon offsets' before they light up or face a Pounds 50 fine. The measures, which have been approved by the Climate Change Unit of the Department of Environment, Fisheries…
Backwards Singing
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 01, 2008
In this video some guy, who calls himself One Man Sho, sings gibberish while performing various actions such as knocking over wooden blocks and drinking a glass of orange soda. Then the video plays in reverse to reveal that he was actually singing the national anthem backwards. It would be possible to fake this. For instance, you could dub over the voice, though I imagine it would be a technical challenge to match the dubbed voice to the movement of his lips. Or you could sing gibberish and then dub over the reversed portion of the video. So I downloaded the video to check that the second half really is the first half played in reverse. It is. So I'm concluding that the video…
Categories: Music, Photos/Videos Comments (13)
Urban Legend ER
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 31, 2008
I don't check out CollegeHumor.com very often, but I came across this short movie they put together called "Urban Legend ER," which I thought was amusing. It imagines what an ER might look like if all the most popular urban legends were real. Warning: It's a little gory in a few places. Update: Posted previously in the forum by Tobester.
Micro Nuclear Reactor
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Last month a lot of blogs posted about a "micro nuclear reactor" supposedly developed by Toshiba. It promised to provide dirt-cheap energy, and was also small enough to fit in a basement. The story was first posted on nextenergynews.com: Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy…
Categories: Free Energy, Technology Comments (12)
“Less Wrinkles”
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 30, 2008
This ad, which has been running on digg, seems like a particularly egregious example of false advertising. Of course, if anyone would challenge the company in court they could say, "we never actually claimed our product could make an old lady look like a young model. That picture, as the disclaimer indicates, is merely simulated imagery." The grammar cop in me also has to point out that it should be "fewer wrinkles," not "less wrinkles." (via adrants)
Categories: Advertising Comments (6)
Quick Links: Jan. 29, 2008
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 30, 2008
Russian election draws eccentric candidates Four empresses are running, as well as a tsar. Fake tickets offer strange message Police in Boulder are warning drivers to be on the lookout for fake parking tickets that bear this cryptic message: "The foregoing is falsely alleged upon personal initiative. This ticket hereby notes discredibility. Remember: Things could be worse. Get over yourself." I'm Not Dead Yet Polish resident Piotr Kucy is trying to convince officials that he isn't dead, but the bureaucrats are proving hard to convince. Con Artist Poses as Heath Ledger's Dad Soon after Heath Ledger died, a man claiming to be his father contacted Tom Cruise and John…
Video Game Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 29, 2008
Yahoo! Games has an article about urban legends involving video games. Though half the legends they list are true. Here's a summary: Donkey Kong was a mistranslation of Monkey Kong. False. Donkey Kong was the original title. "Donkey" was apparently meant to indicate stubborn stupidity. "Kong" was a reference to King Kong. Saddam Hussein tried to build a supercomputer out of Playstation 2s. False. The rumor was offered as an explanation for a shortage of Playstation 2s, but if an evil dictator did want to build a supercomputer, using game consoles would be a bad way to do it. Sony first developed the Playstation for Nintendo. True. Back in the late 1980s Nintendo and Sony were…
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends Comments (8)
Automotive Bermuda Triangle
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 29, 2008
In 2006 I posted about the road of non-starting cars in the town of Gosport, England. An unknown force on this road was preventing cars from starting. I don't know if Gosport ever solved its problem, but it seems that the neighborhood around the Empire State Building in New York City is experiencing the same issue. The New York Daily News reports: In the shadow of the Empire State Building lies an “automotive Bermuda Triangle” - a five-block radius where vehicles mysteriously die. No one is sure what’s causing it, but all roads appear to lead to…
Categories: Places, Technology Comments (11)
Real-Life Kidney Thieves
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 29, 2008
A kidney transplant ring has been busted in India. Hundreds of poor people were forced into having their kidneys removed. ABC News reports that victims were promised a job, then taken to a private house and forced at gunpoint to sell their kidneys. One victim's story sounds just like the kidney-transplant urban legend: "I was approached by a stranger for a job. When I accepted, I was taken to a room with gunmen," Mohammed Salim told India's local NDTV television channel. "They tested my blood, gave me an injection and I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I had pain in my lower abdomen…
Creepy Cat Photo
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 29, 2008
This eerie photo of four cats has been attracting attention online. (It recently made it to the front page of digg.) It's the cat in the car that gives it that extra creepy twist. There's been some speculation about whether it's photoshopped. Unfortunately, the photographer, Ivan Capraro, hasn't posted any info about the image. But my guess would be that it's not photoshopped. I'd say it was either a lucky shot, or a cat was purposefully put in the car for the shot. (via A Welsh View)
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (8)
Kitler Cat Controversy
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 29, 2008
A poster created by the German Green Party in Saxony and Hesse shows a cat that looks like Hitler with the tagline "you can't always recognize Nazis at first glance." The poster is meant to be a swipe at their extreme-right opponents. But the poster has provoked criticism from an unlikely source. Catsthatlooklikehitler.com has given it a paws down, complaining that it shows a photoshopped Hitler-resembling cat, instead of a real one. They write: the German Green Party have elected to use Kitlers in their latest electoral literature... It's a shame they had to use a Photoshopped…
Categories: Animals, Politics Comments (3)
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