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 Category
Exploration/Travel
The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society has posted an interesting geographical puzzle. An article, "The Story of Ink," in the 1930 issue of the American Journal of Pharmacy included the following statement:
Iron tannin inks are sometimes formed naturally; such a phenomenon has been observed in Algeria, a country in northern Africa, where there exists a "river of ink." Chemical examinations of the waters of the streams combining to form this river revealed that one of the streams is impregnated with iron from the soil through which it flows while the other stream carries tannin from a peat swamp. When the two streams joined, the chemical action between the tannic acid, the iron and the oxygen of the water caused the information of the black ferric tannate, making a natural river of ink.
Does this river of ink actually exist? And if so, where is it on a map?

The earliest reference to this mysterious river I could find occurred in The Athens Messenger on May 25, 1876. The short blurb read:
"A river of ink has been discovered in Algeria. Let them find a mountain of paper, and then send for William Allen."
For the next seven decades, similar passages -- almost verbatim to what ran in the Am. Jour. of Pharmacy -- appeared regularly in newspapers. They were typically thrown in as an odd bit of trivia to fill up column space. However, the name and location of the river itself (except for the fact that it was in Algeria) was never identified.

More recently, Bruce Felton and Mark Fowler included a passage about this river in their 1994 book The Best, Worst, & Most Unusual: Noteworthy Achievements, Events, Feats & Blunders of Every Conceivable Kind:
Most Unusual River: The comingling of two tributary streams in Algeria forms a river of ink: One brook contains iron; the other, which drains from a peat swamp, contains gallic acid. Swirled together, the chemicals unite to form a true black ink. (Black Brook in upstate New York is formed by a similar chemical blend.)
Though the chemical composition of this "river of ink" sounds plausible, the other details about it are so vague that it sounds a bit like a geographical urban legend.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Places
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 17, 2007
Comments (9)
About a week ago Lydia Irvin gave birth to a daughter while riding on a New York City Transit bus. Apparently it even specifies on the baby's birth certificate that she was born on a bus. So now Ms. Irvin is hoping that her daughter will qualify for free bus rides for the rest of her life. She'll just have to wave her birth certificate at a driver, and be able to go wherever she pleases. After all, according to urban legend that's the freebie that bus-born babies get.

However, the transit authorities have splashed cold water on Irvin's hopes:
MTA officials said if that ever was the policy, baby Lydia missed the bus by some 60 years. "I don't know if we've ever done that," a spokeswoman said. "Maybe in the 1940s, but that's before my time."
Gee, you would think they could at least give her a free one-month pass, or something. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 08, 2007
Comments (2)

Baby Nessie Fossil Found in Antarctic
Found on an Antarctic island. Rather far away from Scotland. "The five-foot-long animal would have resembled Nessie, the long-necked creature reported to inhabit Scotland's Loch Ness."

Let blind hunters use lasers
Texas legislation will allow blind hunters to use laser sights that will guide them as they aim at the animal. This sounds very weird to me. Why would a blind person even want to hunt? What's the point? I'm just not seeing it. (Thanks, Big Gary)

Talking doll calls three-year-old "a slut"
A California mother claims her daughter's Little Mermaid Shimmering Lights Ariel doll said "You're a slut." Mattel, the doll's manufacturer, is doubtful, but has offered to replace the doll. This reminds me of the case of the "Who wants to die" talking Elmo.

NASA deals blow to lunar real estate industry
NASA has announced plans to build a base on the moon, and it doesn't care if anyone claims to own the land it's building on. But I'm sure this won't slow down the 'Buy land on the moon' industry, since there will always be some sucker willing to buy lunar property.
Categories: Cryptozoology, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 12, 2006
Comments (18)

The Apostles of O'Neill
A group of college kids living in a Washington DC house were informed that they were violating zoning laws that allowed only six people to live in one house. But they did some homework and discovered that 15 people are allowed per house, if it's a residence for a "religious community." Therefore, they've filed paperwork incorporating themselves as a nonprofit religious organization. They call themselves the Apostles of O'Neill.

Nessie could not have been a plesiosaur
Leslie Noe of the Sedgwick Museum has figured out that Nessie cannot be a plesiosaur. Why? Because plesiosaurs couldn't hold their necks above water: "Calculating the articulation of the neck bones, he concluded the neck was flexible and could move easily when pointing down. He explained how the neck was like a feeding tube, to collect soft-bodied prey: The small skulls of plesiosaurs couldn't cope with hard-shelled prey. However, the osteology of the neck makes it absolutely certain that the plesiosaur could not lift its head out of the water - as most alleged pictures of Nessie show."

Fake John Paul II Cloth Relics
The relic trade is alive and well. Souvenir shops near the Vatican are selling "medallions enclosing a tiny shred of cloth and labelled 'relics of John Paul II.'" No word on if they cure any ailments.

"There's a tick on you" as pick-up line
Here's the latest desperate pick-up strategy some guy has dreamed up. He tells women there's a tick on them and then starts pulling their clothes off. The strategy doesn't seem to be working.

Another Message in a Bottle found
Thirty years ago Marie Myatt threw a message in a bottle into the ocean. Recently it was found, just a few kilometres away from where she threw it. Sounds plausible enough. I'm inclined to think this isn't a hoax. (Thanks, Robert)
Categories: Cryptozoology, Exploration/Travel, Religion, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Mon Nov 13, 2006
Comments (17)
In February 2003 12-year-old Emily Streight tossed a message in a bottle into the creek near her home in Carlton, Oregon. She gave her name, her age, her height (which she described as 6-foot-2, a slight exaggeration), listed two boys she had a crush on at school, and added, "If this is a guy who finds this, send a picture."

In October of this year she got a response from 16-year-old Keoni in Hawaii. Somehow her bottle had traveled down Panther Creek, into the North Yahmill River, then into the Yamhill River, then the Willamette River, the Columbia River, out into the Pacific Ocean, and all the way to Hawaii. A pretty incredible journey.

Of course, it never happened. This was yet another message in a bottle hoax. They seem to be popping up all over the place lately. The truth:
According to the CBS TV station in Hawaii, a man has admitted that he found the bottle several years ago, not far from where an Oregon girl launched it in Panther Creek, Oregon. According to the report, the man who only would identify himself as 'Tom' moved to Hawaii and found the bottle recently while unpacking, then sent the letter to Straight, pretending to be a 16-year-old boy.
Other message-in-a-bottle hoaxes from this year include the high-speed message in a bottle (Scotland to New Zealand in 47 days), and the angry-reply message in a bottle.
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 30, 2006
Comments (7)
In the news over the weekend was this report of a message-in-a-bottle that traveled all the way from the north-east coast of Scotland to New Zealand... in 47 days. That means it traveled at a continuous rate of 18 miles per hour. It really didn't have any time for detours. It must have made a beeline straight to its destination.

The sender of the message was six-year-old Keely Reid, and it was discovered by six-year-old James Wilson. This all sounds too perfect to be believable. Even Reid's family is having a hard time swallowing it:
"I can't see how it got to New Zealand. Did somebody maybe pick it up and fly it to New Zealand? It is a bit of mystery," admitted Pearl Reid, Keely's grandmother in an interview to 'The Independent' .
Scientists also are skeptical:
Experts in ocean currents at Fisheries Research Station Laboratories in Aberdeen share her apprehension as they try to figure out how the bottle could have covered more than 32,200 kms in just 47 days- at an estimated 18 miles per hour. "As a scientist, I would usually hedge my bets and leave room for some possibility but there is absolutely no way the bottle could have made it to New Zealand on its own, it must have been picked up by somebody," Bill Turrell, a scientist at the Station was quoted in the paper.
This isn't the first suspect Message in a Bottle that we've seen here at the MoH. Back in Feb 2006 there was the message that crossed the Atlantic, only to receive an angry reply.
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 16, 2006
Comments (8)

Demon Coin Sold
image A Winnipeg coin collector has sold an American penny for $170 on eBay. He claims the coin bears the image of the devil. Personally, I'm having a hard time seeing it. But at least it's not another image of the Virgin Mary.
Pretend To Be An Illegal Immigrant
Experience all the thrill and danger of illegally crossing the border from Mexico into the United States... without really being in any danger at all. A Mexican park is offering tourists the opportunity to pretend that they're an illegal immigrant crossing the Rio Grande: Advertising for the mock journey, which takes place at a nature park in the central state of Hidalgo, tells the pretend immigrants to "Make fun of the Border Patrol!" and to "Cross the Border as an Extreme Sport!"

Bacon Wallet
image Who hasn't wished, at some time in their life, that their wallet was made out of bacon? Now that dream can come true, without actually having to carry a slab of rotting meat around in your pocket.
Jesus Pan
image I have a suspicion this has already been posted somewhere on the site, but if so, I can't find it. This handy device allows you to place the image of Jesus on all your food. Or, at least, to place an image resembling the medieval interpretation of what Jesus may have looked like on your food.
Categories: eBay, Exploration/Travel, Food, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 23, 2006
Comments (13)
Teddy Tour Berlin, run by Karsten Morschett and Thomas Vetsch, cater for those who can't themselves afford to tour the German capital, but want the next best thing.

Expatica.com reports that customers send their teddies and the payment details to the company, who then take the bears around sites such as Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Olympic Stadium, and remnants of the Berlin Wall.

At each site, the visiting teddy is photographed in a snappy pose.

"They aren't photo-montages either," Morschett stresses. "We actually take the teddies to these places and pose them as stylishly as possible, just as their owners would want us to do."

If you want to send your ursine friend to Berlin, it will set you back between $25 and $150 for the deluxe tour.

Morschett and Vetsch say they both admire teddies as "a kind of soft art form" and that they take pains to ensure that their travelogue photos are stylish and not simply vacation snapshots.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Flora on Wed Aug 16, 2006
Comments (10)
Status: Weird News
Chicago's transportation department has announced that they're going to try an interesting experiment to try to get people to slow down on a notoriously hazardous curve. They're going to use an optical illusion:
The yellow warning signs mounted along the road in recent years telling drivers to take the curve at 25 m.p.h. have had little or no effect. So the city has decided to try something new. In a few weeks, dozens of new pavement stripes will be laid down. At first they’ll be 16-feet apart, but as drivers get closer to the curve, the stripes will only be eight feet apart. "They provide an optical illusion that vehicles are actually speeding up and that causes motorists to slow down, which is of course, the intended effect that we’re trying to have at that location," said Steele.
Unfortunately there's no video of what this optical illusion effect looks like (the new stripes haven't been painted yet), but when I read this I immediately thought that if you combined the speeding optical illusion with randomly moving yellow lines, you could really mess with people's minds.
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 28, 2006
Comments (15)
Status: Weird News
image Sheilas’ Wheels, a UK-based auto-insurance company that caters to women, has announced the invention of a "buddy on Demand": "a blow up man that inflates at the flick of a switch if and when a passenger is needed to be used whenever a woman driving alone after dark needs an instant passenger."

It doesn't sound like a bad idea, and it would be very useful for carpool lanes as well. I suspected the whole thing was a joke since I couldn't find any picture of this "Buddy on Demand," and it's not for sale yet, but in their press release Sheila's Wheels notes that "The 'Buddy on Demand' was designed and created by Inflate, with all design rights owned by esure services Ltd." That sounds official enough to make me believe they really did create this thing.

Update: Found a picture of the Buddy. (Thanks, VL)
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 26, 2006
Comments (15)
Status: Weird (but true) news
First I should note that I didn't title this post 'Mice On A Plane', since it seems that everyone else in the world who's written about this has already used that joke. The same with noting that the cure for mice on a plane is snakes on a plane.

Anyway, the story here is that an American Airlines plane was recently grounded because of a mouse infestation. I know that my parents (who live out in the countryside in Virginia) often have problems with mice getting into their car and chewing through cables, but I wouldn't have thought mice would like conditions on a plane. Too loud and cold. Apparently I was wrong. American Airlines has admitted that 17 mice were found on the plane, while a whistleblower claims that the real number of mice on the plane was much higher. Possibly as many as 1000. There were even dead mice found in the oxygen masks. (That would be a pleasant surprise in the case of an emergency.) The scary thing is that this plane was flying repeatedly back and forth between LA and New York before American finally did something about the problem. (Thanks to Jen for the link)
Categories: Animals, Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 19, 2006
Comments (9)
Status: Weird News
The Los Angeles Times reports about a Russian travel agency, Persey Tours, that sells fake vacations:
For $500, nobody will believe you weren't sunning yourself last week on Copacabana Beach, just before you trekked through the Amazon rain forest and slept in a thatched hut. Hey! That's you, arms outstretched like Kate Winslet on the bow of the Titanic, on top of Corcovado! Persey Tours was barely keeping the bill collectors at bay before it started offering fake vacations last year. Now it's selling 15 a month — providing ersatz ticket stubs, hotel receipts, photos with clients' images superimposed on famous landmarks, a few souvenirs for living room shelves. If the customer is an errant husband who wants his wife to believe he's on a fishing trip, Persey offers not just photos of him on the river, but a cellphone with a distant number, a lodge that if anyone calls will swear the husband is checked in but not available, and a few dead fish on ice.
So now who believes that I really did travel to Edinburgh in May for a Museum of Hoaxes get-together? wink

The broader focus of the LA Times article is how awash in fakery Russian society is. You can get fake versions of almost anything in Russia: clothes, food, electronics, university degrees, art, legal documents, etc. One line in the article I thought was particularly ironic:
The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has estimated that 50% of all consumer goods sold in Russia are fake; the counterfeit trade, Minister German O. Gref announced in January, has reached $4 billion to $6 billion a year — no one knows exactly, because the books are cooked.

Categories: Exploration/Travel, Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 12, 2006
Comments (23)
Page 3 of 7 pages  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›