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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: History
Black League Basketball
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 16, 2005
Status: Never Existed Remember the Black Basketball League? Its teams (including favorites such as the Newark Eagles, Harlem Knights, Baltimore Crabs, West Philly Dancers and Cleveland Ebonies) competed from 1920-40, when they were shut out of the all-white league. Consumers can now honor the memory of this league by buying sportswear emblazoned with the team logos. Of course, if you don't remember this league, it might be because historians insist that it never existed. But Eric Williams, the guy who's selling the black league sportswear, isn't letting that minor fact bother him. He explains that: "These logos had to come…
Categories: History, Sports Comments (32)
Fake Family Software
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 13, 2005
Status: Hoax-facilitating software Genealogists are in an uproar about new software that allows people to create fake (but real looking) online family trees. The program is called Fake Family. (Because of the controversy, the website of the software maker is now given over to an Open Letter to Genealogists.) Genealogists argue that the fake information created by this program could easily find its way into real family history databases. They also charge that the only purpose of the software is to create webpages that will lure people with false information, and then profit from advertising links. The maker of the software, Don Harrold, defends his creation by insisting it's…
Categories: History, Identity/Imposters Comments (56)
The Bear on the California Flag Should Have Been a Pear
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 13, 2005
Status: Hoax A reporter for Inside Bay Area (I don't know his name... it's not given with the article) recently recounted how his granddaughter told him that the bear on the California flag was originally supposed to be a pear. Back in 1846, Capt. Jedediah Bartlett, leader of a band of rebels fighting against the Mexican authorities in California, supposedly drew up a flag for the future state. He thought a pear, as a symbol of the region's agriculture, would be a fitting symbol. But his instructions were misread and the flagmaker inserted a bear on the flag instead of a pear. The error…
Categories: History, Journalism Comments (15)
Lincoln Death Photo
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 20, 2005
Status: Authentic In my hoax photo gallery I display a picture of the body of Abraham Lincoln lying in a casket and explain that the photo is fake because the army didn't allow any photos of Lincoln's body to be taken. But I just received an email from Rich noting that there is one authentic picture of Lincoln's corpse, and he's right. A photographer did manage to snap a shot of the dead Lincoln as he was lying in state in Manhattan's City Hall. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had the photograph confiscated, and it was supposed to be destroyed. But…
Categories: History, Photos/Videos Comments (29)
Michelangelo’s Laocoon
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 06, 2005
It's already well known that Michelangelo dabbled in art forgery. That's not disputed. For instance, there's his famous forgery of the Sleeping Cupid. However, Lynn Catterson of Columbia University thinks that a much more high-profile forgery should be attributed to him. She believes that Michelangelo forged The Laocoon, which has long been regarded as one of the most important pieces of ancient Greek sculpture in existence. She points out that Michelangelo was present when The Laocoon was unearthed in 1506. She has promised to provide further proof to back up her allegation at a lecture today, as well as in a…
Categories: Art, History Comments (19)
Mickey’s Gala Premiere
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 06, 2005
In September 1939 the fledgling BBC television service was shut down because of the start of World War II. According to legend, transmission was ended in the middle of a broadcast of a Disney cartoon called "Mickey's Gala Premiere." When transmission resumed six years later an announcer came on the air and said, "Well now, where were we?" The Disney cartoon then began to play from the exact spot in which it had left off all those years ago. Is this story true? Almost, but not quite. According to imdb.com, "Mickey's Gala Premiere" was the last thing shown on the BBC in 1939 and the first thing it aired when it started back up in 1946. However the…
Categories: Entertainment, History Comments (7)
Wageningen Liberation Monument
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 01, 2005
Here's a strange story. I'm not sure whether or not it's a joke. Supposedly the Dutch village of Wageningen commissioned the construction of a war memorial shaped like "a giant copper obelisk that rises and falls depending on the level of sunlight, and spurts flames out of the top during important festivals." Only after they built it did they realize it looked exactly like a giant penis and hastily decided to scrap it. There are two reasons I'm skeptical about this. First, the source is listed as Ananova. Second, there already is a National Liberation Monument war memorial in Wageningen that's been there since the 1950s.
Categories: History, Places, Sex/Romance Comments (22)
Easter Legend is a Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 27, 2005
It's long been thought that the word Easter and the traditions we associate with it (the Easter Bunny and hiding eggs) stem from an old Germanic Saxon belief about the goddess Ostara. The Saxons believed that Ostara was sent by the Sun King during the spring to bring an end to winter. She bore a basket of colored eggs, and with the help of a magical rabbit would hide these eggs under plants and flowers to bring them new life. The name Ostara evolved into Oestre, or Easter. Turns out this legend is a hoax, at least according to University of Tasmania researcher Elizabeth Freeman. Her research indicates that the Saxons never worshipped a goddess named Ostara. Ostara…
Categories: History, Religion Comments (19)
The Old Negro Space Program
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 24, 2005
Conspiracy theorists say that man never landed on the moon, but the truth is even more shocking. As this short documentary film about the Old Negro Space Program reveals, the Blackstronauts of Black 'NASSA' landed on the moon a full three years before White NASA managed to get there. However, this achievement has been covered up by an elaborate 'Black Blackout' in the media. The film manages to capture exactly the right 'Ken Burnsesque' tone. Watch for how they keep repeating 'It was a different time back then, 1957 or 58', and how a fiddle starts playing whenever the narration shifts to a more reflective…
Pony Express Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 23, 2005
According to legend, the Pony Express mail service (which operated from 1860 to 1861) advertised for riders as follows: "Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." But historian Joseph Nardone has determined that the ad is a hoax. It never ran. Or rather, it never ran during the operation of the Pony Express. He scoured hundreds of papers, but couldn't find it listed anywhere. The first time he found it mentioned was in 1902. A real ad for the Pony Express, from 1860, read as follows: "Men Wanted! The undersigned wishes to hire ten or a dozen…
Categories: History Comments (6)
Sky Disc of Nebra
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 02, 2005
Yet another German archaeological fraud has possibly been uncovered. The Guardian reports that controversy has erupted over the authenticity of the 'Sky Disc of Nebra'. The disc, which shows the sun, moon and stars, was found in 1999 by two amateur metal detectors near the town of Nebra in Germany. It was believed to be 3600 years old. Now some experts, including Peter Schauer of Regensburg University, are claiming that it's a fake. This issue has arisen because the two guys who found it were charged with handling stolen goods after they tried to sell the disc to a museum. I don't really understand what the basis…
Categories: History, Science Comments (14)
The Bat Creek Stone
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 15, 2004
In 1889 a curiously engraved stone was found in an Indian mound near Bat Creek, Ohio. The discoverer of the stone was John Emmert, who was working for the Smithsonian's Mound Survey Project. Emmert thought (or said he thought) that the inscription was written in Cherokee and sent the 'Bat Creek Stone' off to the Smithsonian, which accepted the stone as authentic. The Smithsonian then included a reference to the stone in its final report on the Mounds--the report in which it concluded that the mounds had been built by ancient American Indians, not by an ancient tribe of world-wandering Europeans or Israelites (the origin of the Indian mounds was a huge…
Categories: History Comments (43)
Atlantis Found
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 10, 2004
A lot of people lately seem to be finding the lost city of Atlantis. Back in June a researcher said he located it off the southern coast of Spain by studying satellite images. Then last month US researchers said they found the city off the coast of Cyprus by using sonar technology. But my favorite is the discovery of Atlantis announced yesterday by the Hawaiian Phonics tutor Dennis Brooks. He's studied the issue deeply and has concluded that Atlantis is, in fact, Tampa, Florida. He points out that the dimensions of Atlantis as described by Plato pretty much match up with the dimensions of Tampa and Harbor Island (in Tampa Bay). So…
Stunning Ingratitude of De Gaulle
Posted by The Curator on Sat Nov 27, 2004
In 1945 did Charles De Gaulle really say to Winston Churchill, in reference to the military aid that the Allies provided to France to defeat Germany, that "We shall stun you with our ingratitude"? Monday, November 22 was the birthday of De Gaulle, and a number of right-leaning blogs marked the occasion by posting this quotation (they seem to have picked it up from an article in the Belfast Telegraph). So did De Gaulle really say this? Even though the tense verbal exchanges between De Gaulle and Churchill are well known, this particular remark sounded hoaxy to me. A quick google search…
Categories: History, Military, Politics Comments (7)
Coca-Cola Fantasy Items
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 08, 2004
Here's an interesting piece from a newspaper about the burgeoning market in Coca-Cola Fantasy items. One of the paper's readers wrote in to ask whether their Coca-Cola belt buckle designed by Tiffany Studios and showing a nude woman sitting on a crescent moon was of any value (unfortunately there's no picture of the item). The paper's reply: No, because the item is a fantasy fake: [This] is what Coca-Cola collectors call a "fantasy," which is a piece that never existed as an old item, was not used in advertising by the Coca-Cola Co. (nor sanctioned by them), but is a modern creation meant to appeal to collectors or to mislead the unwary. There are…
Categories: Advertising, Food, History Comments (31)
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