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Two interesting links via BoingBoing. First, the website of the International Bigfoot Symposium that will be held September 12-14 in Willow Creek, CA (very close to where the famous Patterson-Gimlin film of a Bigfoot creature was shot). Second, the somewhat surprising news that Jane Goodall, the famous primate researcher, is a Bigfoot believer. You can listen to her discuss her beliefs in a segment recorded from NPR's Science Friday.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 31, 2003
Comments (0)
A visitor (Joanna) asks: I heard about a historical practice that could possibly be a hoax. I visited the Freakatorium in NYC today, and they had on display a mummified cat that they claim was walled into "A New York City Building" to ensure its stability. Now, they assured me that although they had hoaxes in this museum, the cat thing was certainly real, although they were fuzzy on the dates and the location it was found in. I found some references to this practice in medieval times... However, I can't imagine this happening as late as the 1800's, when this practice supposedly took place in New York. Any thoughts on this?
My Answer: I'm not an expert on this kind of folklore, but a little bit of research seems to confirm that this practice of walling up cats in buildings did occur during medieval times. Apparently the cat was thought to be a kind of good luck charm that would ward off evil spirits by being entombed in the building. As for something like this occurring in New York City during the 1800s, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story in 1842 called 'The Black Cat' in which he describes a cat being walled up in a house. This might be where the folks at the Freakatorium got their idea. But otherwise I don't think that an awful lot of 19th-century New Yorkers were busy walling up cats (though, of course, there may have been one or two such individuals).
Categories: Animals
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 30, 2003
Comments (1)
I believe it's now officially confirmed that I'm an idiot. I run a website called the Museum of Hoaxes, and yet I fall for an obvious hoax. Back on July 17 I trumpeted the news that a fossil of a sea serpent had been found on the shores of Loch Ness, and that it wasn't a hoax. What was I thinking? Of course it was a hoax. I believed it because I thought it was perfectly reasonable for someone to find a plesiosaur skeleton. But to find one on the shores of Loch Ness should have raised all kinds of alarm bells. Now researchers who have had a chance to examine the fossil say that it was likely planted there. Thankfully visitors to this site are much more intelligent than I am, and one of them named Cal pointed out to me a few days ago that the fossil probably was bogus.
In other Nessie News, a team from the BBC has done sonar tests to officially determine that there is no monster in Loch Ness, which, of course, will not convince any of the believers.
Categories: Cryptozoology
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 30, 2003
Comments (2)
The team of developers on this website claim to be creating a game called '911 Survivor' that allows you to simulate being inside the burning World Trade Center. Reacting to this, quite a few people have immediately speculated that it must be a hoax. But looking through the site, I suspect it isn't. Instead it seems to be some kind of art project designed to make people question the boundaries drawn between real-reality and media-reality.
Categories: Hate Crimes/Terror, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 28, 2003
Comments (0)
I've never been to the Burning Man festival, but from what I hear it would be fair to call it representative of hippie culture. You go out into the desert for a few days, smoke dope, listen to music, and generally let it all hang out. So imagine the horror of Burning Man devotees when they come across this website offering a package tour to the festival. The deal included an air-conditioned tent and front-row seats at the festival. It smacked of yuppie/corporate encroachment. But the site turns out to have been a hoax designed by Burning Man regulars.
Categories: Exploration/Travel
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 28, 2003
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The NY Times reports on a growing controversy in the art world. The famous Black Paintings by Francisco Goya may not have been painted by Goya at all. A new book coming out speculates that they were actually painted by his son, who's been considered pretty much a nobody as far as art historians have been concerned.
Categories: Art
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 28, 2003
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Olympic track star Carl Lewis was reported to have been killed in a bicycle accident in this news report. But actually Lewis is just fine. The report is a phony, rigged up by a biking enthusiast to draw attention to an abutment in a Houston park that he considers dangerous.
Categories: Death, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 28, 2003
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A review of Peter Carey's new book, My Life as a Fake, based on the story of Ern Malley, the Australian literary hoax.
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 27, 2003
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The FBI says: beware fake websites. They're calling it the 'Phisher' scam. You receive an email that lures you to what you think is a legitimate website run by a real company (though it's not). Then you're tricked into divulging your personal information (credit card info, etc.)
Categories: Email Hoaxes
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 27, 2003
Comments (0)
An email going around claims to contain, as an attachment, the next cookbook by Jamie Oliver (aka The Naked Chef). It's actually just a mock-up, containing recipes from his previous book. But I'm bummed that I haven't received this email yet.
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Food
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 27, 2003
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A legal battle erupts over who owns the copyright to the poems of Ern Malley. If you don't know who he is, Malley is Australia's most famous hoax poet. My favorite line of his continues to be, "I am still the black swan of trespass on alien waters." Brooding, eerie, and completely nonsensical. (I don't have anything about him on the website, but I've got a blurb about him in my book).
Categories: Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 27, 2003
Comments (0)
So I think it's finally official that Hunting for Bambi is a hoax, a publicity stunt done to sell videos. Isn't it wonderful that public attention gets focused on things like this rather than, oh, poverty, hunger, education, etc.?
Categories: Advertising, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 27, 2003
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