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Urban Legends
The Tacoma Washington News Tribune reports on a Vanishing Hitchhiker legend local to Mount St. Helens. (in case you're not familiar with it, the Vanishing Hitchhiker urban legend goes like this: a guy picks up a hitchhiker who then mysteriously vanishes from inside the moving car. He realizes that the hitchhiker was a ghost.) Following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, many drivers in the area swore they saw a woman dressed in white thumbing a ride by the side of the road. She would get in the car and eventually say "The volcano is going to erupt again between Oct. 12 and 14." Then she would disappear. Sure enough, lava did emerge from the volcano on Oct. 12 of this month. Spooky!
Categories: Paranormal, Places, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 29, 2004
Comments (3)
Here's an odd spin on the old urban legend about sharing a drink with a stranger at a bar and then waking up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice, without a kidney. How about, instead of just sharing a drink with that stranger, you also get married to him, and then he sells off your kidney.

According to the Daily Times, Ashfaq convinced Zohra to undergo surgery so that the couple could have children, but instead had one of her kidneys removed and sold for Rs.200,000. Having no further use of her, he also divorced her.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 22, 2004
Comments (5)
There's an urban legend that's been floating around for years claiming that the radio waves from mobile phones can cause brain cancer. Actually, I wouldn't be willing to fully put the 'urban legend' stamp on that claim... it seems like there may be a few elements of truth to it. But anyway, now some people are going to the opposite extreme, arguing that not only do mobile phones not cause brain cancer, but that they actually help the brain work better and make you smarter. How? Because the phones held next to your head act like little radiators and, according to David Butler, "that heating effect actually improves the neuron transfers between neural pathways, and therefore your thinking ability goes up". Amazingly enough, Mr. Butler doesn't work for a phone company. He's the head of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations in Britain. But the BBC quotes many experts who completely dismiss Mr. Butler's strange argument.
Categories: Technology, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 22, 2004
Comments (5)
While browsing through the alt.folklore.urban usenet group, I noticed a debate raging over the question of how deep American roads are. Apparently (so the urban legend goes) American roads can only be built to a fairly shallow depth in order to make the land under them more easily reclaimed for farming. By contrast, European roads are built to a much deeper depth. As a consequence, European roads are much more durable than American roads and need fewer repairs. The usenet group didn't appear to have reached any conclusion about the validity of this claim, but I can't imagine it's true. I think the frequency of road repairs is mainly a function of weather conditions (does the ground freeze and thaw a lot) and the amount of traffic on the road. I can't find any references on Google to American laws stating that roads have to be kept shallow for the benefit of future farmers.
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 19, 2004
Comments (13)
Here's an interesting article about Iraqi urban legends regarding the American forces. Here's a few of the more popular beliefs:

  • that the bulletproof vests American soldiers wear actually contain air-conditioning units (I'm sure the soldiers wish this were true)

  • that the sunglasses worn by almost all American soldiers allow them to see through clothing

  • And that American armored vehicles are protected by electrical fields that detonate RPG rockets before they strike, but that this protection can be defeated by wrapping the rockets in electrical tape.

Categories: Military, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 14, 2004
Comments (18)
Most people have probably heard that old urban legend about a guy who shares a drink with a stranger at a bar and then wakes up in a bathtub full of ice the next morning without a kidney... the victim of kidney harvesters. But the following case is almost the exact opposite. Members of the 'Jesus Christians' cult are lying and scheming in order to get rid of their kidneys, even though the medical authorities don't want them. The leader of the cult, Dave McKay, encourages his followers to donate their kidneys. He considers the donation to be a kind of sacrifice to Christ. The problem is that Australia, where the cult is based, doesn't allow kidney donations from strangers because they don't want to encourage a black market in organs. Therefore the Jesus Christians are resorting to deception in order to fob off their kidneys. So what would happen if you shared a drink with a stranger in a bar... who turned out to be a Jesus Christian? I don't even want to think about it.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Religion, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 07, 2004
Comments (12)
Is the number 666 slowly becoming visible on the front of the Alamo? And did it first appear there after Ozzy Osbourne urinated on the building while dressed as a woman back in 1982? And when the number becomes fully visible will "something terrible happen"? Yes on all counts if you believe the urban legend that's floating around. Brenda Layland gave me a skeptical heads-up about this one, and for the past fifteen minutes I've been staring at these pictures of the Alamo trying to figure out where the sixes are. I've located one of them, but the other two are still escaping me. No, wait a minute. I think I've found them all now.
Categories: Paranormal, Places, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 24, 2003
Comments (17)
Bob Levey of the Washington Post debunks a few internet legends about people who have received huge financial awards for mishaps that were very minor or their own fault. Such as the one about the woman who threw a soda at her boyfriend in a restaurant, then slipped on the puddle, and successfully sued the restaurant for $113,500. It never happened.
Categories: Business/Finance, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 31, 2002
Comments (0)
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