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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Pranks
The Science of Whoopee Cushions
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 18, 2009
Science has determined the funniest whoopee cushion sound, based on a survey of 34,000 people. It is a long, whiny fart, lasting at least seven seconds. Young, European women tend to be most amused by fart sounds, relative to other demographic groups. And the noise of flatulence gets funnier the more you listen to it. The research was conducted by acoustics Professor Trevor Cox of the University of Salford, working in conjunction with the charity Comic Relief. My theory is that farts were the very first form of jokes. Cavemen sitting around and farting to make each other laugh. So by this time, our brains are pretty much hard-wired to find them amusing. (via…
Categories: Pranks, Science Comments (12)
The mystery of the gift-wrapped postbox
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 17, 2009
It happened in Edinburgh, on McDonald road. But why was it wrapped? Nobody knows. A Royal Mail spokeswoman suggests it may have been a "romantic gesture." The box has now been unwrapped.
Categories: Pranks Comments (1)
Green Dye in Nuclear Pool Prank
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 17, 2009
Happy St. Patrick's Day. Today the water in the White House fountains as well as the Chicago River will be dyed green. And looking back through prankster history, I found this case from 1988 in which someone put green dye in the pool where radioactive nuclear fuel was stored at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. Oddly, the plant officials were unwilling to admit it was a St. Patrick's Day prank, even though it happened on the eve of March 17. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News (Mar 30, 1988): Officials say they can't be sure it was a prankster who planted green dye in a pool where highly radioactive nuclear fuel is stored, even…
Categories: Pranks Comments (0)
Free Flattery
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 16, 2009
Too close to a fake thing. Brett Westcott and Cameron Brown like to stand on a corner in Times Square and compliment people walking by. They say they're doing this in a genuine attempt to spread good cheer. The problem is, many people have difficulty judging their sincerity: Brown admits some students think they're playing a practical joke. "Some people question our sincerity, but we're 100 percent sincere. We wouldn't be doing this for two hours every Wednesday for eight months if we didn't mean it... The worst response we've gotten is the middle finger, or they just tell us to shut up. But then we give them positive reinforcement for that." If…
Categories: Pranks, Psychology Comments (10)
Love in the age of Facebook
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 17, 2009
It's hard to tell how much of this story is genuine. Stuart Slann supposedly learned the hard way part of the truth of the old joke that on the internet the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents. In Stuart's case, Emma, the woman he thought he met on Facebook, was actually two guys playing an elaborate prank on him. Apparently they lured him into driving nine hours to meet Emma in Aberdeen, and then they revealed the truth to him. And since this is the age of YouTube, the pranksters also created a video (now widely viewed) to celebrate the humiliation of their victim.
Krassner’s Anti-Communism Poster
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 05, 2009
In 1963 Paul Krassner included a poster that said "Fuck Communism" in his magazine The Realist. The poster was very popular with counter-culture types. Kurt Vonnegut described it as a "miracle of compressed intelligence nearly as admirable for potent simplicity, in my opinion, as Einstein's e=mc2" because it demonstrated "how preposterous it was for so many people to be responding to both words with such cockamamie Pavlovian fear and alarm." Krassner himself often told this story about the poster: At a midwestern college, one graduating student held up a FUCK COMMUNISM! poster…
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks Comments (6)
George Washington Stilts
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 03, 2009
The Idaho Statesman has an article about nineteenth-century prankster George Washington Stilts, who was a native of Boise. Apparently he was the leader of a group that called itself the "Hornique-qui-bri-niques." This was usually shortened to "Hornies" or "Horrible Hornies." This group was known for painting their faces and dressing up in costumes on July 4th, then parading through the city streets, after which they would go on a three-day bender until they had to be carried home. The article relates one of his pranks: When Stilts was summoned for jury duty before a judge who did not know…
Categories: Pranks Comments (0)
UBC Prank Fails
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 03, 2009
The University of British Columbia students given the responsibility for pulling off their traditional prank of hanging a Volkswagen bug from a bridge screwed it up this year. The cabling they were using broke, and the bug fell into the water below. Kids these days! Can't they even pull off a prank properly! Link: Vancouver Sun.
Categories: Pranks Comments (1)
Public Urination Permitted
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 24, 2008
Pranksters have placed signs in various places around Nottingham stating: "Public Urination Permitted After 7.30pm". The Nottingham City Council wants everyone to know that the signs are not telling the truth: "It is an offence to urinate in public and these signs have been put up illegally, for whatever reason." This prank is basically the opposite of one I reported on over a year ago in which pranksters placed signs in public lavatories that read: "Think Green. Think Safe. Do you really need to go?"
Categories: Gross, Pranks Comments (3)
The Pimping Game
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 22, 2008
How to play the "pimping" game: Print a fake license plate on glossy paper using license-plate-like fonts downloaded off the web. Tape this fake license plate over your real license plate. Then purposefully speed in an area where you'll get photographed by speed cameras. Whoever owns the license-plate-number you faked will then get mailed a ticket. If you really want to get fancy, make sure the car you're driving is similar to the car you want to prank. Police report that kids are increasingly using this technique to get tickets sent to parents, teachers, and other victims. Says one unnamed parent: "This game is very disturbing." I don't know why it's…
Categories: Pranks Comments (5)
Rectal Exam Prank Caller
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 18, 2008
John Brady has been charged with second-degree aggravated harassment for calling random people and trying to convince them to perform a rectal exam over the phone. He got at least one person to do this. His modus operandi: "I would go through the phone book and pick random numbers and make telephone calls." Then he would ask them personal questions about their digestive system, and try to get them to follow his instructions. Prank calls of this nature (and victims dumb enough to fall for them) are definitely a recurring theme. Remember the strip-search prank caller from a few years ago? He would call restaurants, pretend to be a…
Categories: Pranks Comments (4)
Helix High Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 18, 2008
Yesterday (Tuesday) there was a helicopter buzzing around in the sky outside my window for about half an hour. I was speculating what it might be: bank robbery, accident, men in black? No, turns out it was just a local, neighborhood hoax. (I live about 2 blocks from Helix High School in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb): A report of an armed man at Helix High School that prompted a lockdown on the campus Tuesday was a student hoax, police said. An investigation by school staff and the La Mesa Police Department determined that the student who…
The Roofs of Cambridge
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 02, 2008
Pranksters at Cambridge University recently succeeded in placing a Santa hat on top of two seemingly inaccessible roof spires. Ten firemen and three fire engines spent an hour getting them down. From the Daily Mail: The culprit currently remains a mystery, but it is thought to be a student playing a practical joke. It is also not known how anyone managed to scale the buildings, particularly the spire of Humility, which is thought to be impossible to climb. One suggestion is that the person used the famous book The Night Climbers…
Categories: Pranks Comments (8)
Time magazine lists its favorite “geek” pranks
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 02, 2008
Time magazine offers a roundup of what it describes as "the biggest pranks in geek history" -- limited to pranks perpetrated by MIT and Caltech students. The usual suspects are there: the great rose bowl hoax, Caltech relettering the Hollywood sign, etc. Except, uh, some of the items in the list clearly aren't pranks. For instance, creating a program that allows DVDs to play on any operating system may be a useful hack, but it's not what I would consider a prank. And I don't think MIT student Star Simpson intended to cause a security scare when she wore her "socket to me" sweatshirt to Logan Airport. …
Categories: Pranks Comments (0)
The Pranks of Horace de Vere Cole
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 26, 2008
The Daily Mail offers a short biography of Horace de Vere Cole (1881-1936), a man who made pranks his life work. His most famous prank was the Dreadnought Hoax of 1910. Here are a few of his others: He "once stood in the street handing out free theatre tickets to a series of extremely bald passers-by with the result that, when viewed from the dress circle, the assembly of shiny bald heads in the carefully chosen seats clearly spelt out an expletive - complete with a dot over the 'i'." He used to "wander the streets with a cow's udder poking through his flies. At the moment of optimum outrage, he would then produce a pair…
Categories: Pranks Comments (8)
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