The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
The Florida Keys—the ‘fake your death’ capital of the world
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jan 04, 2014
Why do people go to the Florida Keys to fake their death? Because of the water: "all the water — the ocean, the channels, the bay — all plausible places for a body never to be found." Florida Keys have been a place for many to stage their own deaths from The Miami Herald Some people come to the Florida Keys to dive the coral reefs or fish for tarpon. Others come to party in Key West. And then there are a desperate few who come to the subtropical island chain for a more sinister activity: faking their own deaths. "We've had so many over the years," Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay…
Categories: Death Comments (0)
Marijuana overdoses in Colorado?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jan 04, 2014
A story posted recently on the fake-news site DailyCurrant.com alleged that hospitals in Colorado were being overwhelmed by people suffering from marijuana poisoning. There were 37 people dead already! The article quoted a Dr. Jack Shepard of St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver as saying, "It's complete chaos here. I've put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute." Enough people believed this story that St. Luke's Medical Center (which is a real hospital) felt compelled to issue a statement denying the report: The name Dr. Jack Shepard is an allusion to the…
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (2)
North Korean leader fed to hungry dogs?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jan 04, 2014
NBC News A report is circulating, sourced to "a newspaper with close ties to China's ruling Communist Party" (according to NBC), alleging that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, eaten alive last month by a pack of 120 ravenous dogs. Gruesome stuff, if true. But Max Fisher of the Washington Post cautions that there are good reasons to doubt this story. The report comes from a small Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po, which has a reputation for sensationalism. Somehow it got this incredible scoop just a day after the execution. No one else reported it, and Wen Wei Po…
Categories: Journalism Comments (1)
Fireworks over Europe
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 03, 2014
As 2013 ended and 2014 began, this photo started circulating online, along with the claim that it showed a satellite's view of the fireworks over Europe at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But no, that's not what this photo shows. For a start, Europe isn't all in the same time zone, so the fireworks didn't go off all at the same moment. Second, fireworks wouldn't have created such intense illumination. The image was actually created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and shows changes in illumination from 1993-2003. Sciencephoto.com offers this explanation: Lights are colour-coded. Red lights appeared during…
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (0)
Lottery winner meets love of his life, two days after the big win
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 02, 2014
This is one of those fake viral images that you'd think everyone would recognize immediately to be a joke. And yet, quite a few people seem to take it seriously, such as the people on this reddit thread where it was recently posted. The woman is the Swedish actress, singer, and glamour model Natacha Peyre. The guy next to her remains unidentified. He's probably just a fan that she agreed to pose for a photo with. According to reports, Peyre has been dating Swedish pop singer Dhani Lennevald for a number of years, and he's not the guy in the photo, nor is he a $181 million lottery winner.
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (0)
The Zero G Day Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 01, 2014
January 4 will be "Zero G Day," according to a report trending online. Do a twitter search for #zerogday, and you can find people talking about it. The report originates from news-hound.net, which offers this explanation: It has been revealed by the British astronomer Patrick Moore that, on the morning of January 4th 2014,  an extraordinary astronomical event will occur. At exactly 9:47 am, the planet Pluto will pass directly behind Jupiter, in relation to the Earth. This rare alignment will mean that the combined gravitational force of the two planets would exert a stronger tidal pull, temporarily counteracting the Earth’s own gravity and making people weigh less... Moore told scientists that they could experience…
Categories: Pseudoscience Comments (1)
Mother Mary Miracle Shirt
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 01, 2014
Shortly before Christmas, Florida-resident Tim Symonds discovered that the image of the Virgin Mary had appeared in a tie-dye t-shirt he made. Symonds explains: "I have a basic idea of what the shirts going to look like but I tell every one God does the real art work because where the shirt folds and how the dye runs is up to him and it often makes different images." According to MySuncoast News, Symonds isn't sure what's he going to do with the "Mother Mary miracle shirt." However, he "might try to sell it."
Categories: Pareidolia Comments (6)
End of the world in 2014
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 01, 2014
Should we be worried? From the Brazil (Indiana) Weekly Democrat - Oct 17, 1912:
Categories: Future/Time Comments (1)
Yunnan Breast-Touching Festival
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 31, 2013
In an article about the growing popularity of festivals in China (they're popular because they make lots of money for local governments), China Daily called attention to a false rumor about the existence of a "Breast-Touching Festival" in Yunnan province: According to rumors circulating on micro blogs and Internet chat forums, the Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province was considering applying for world cultural heritage status for a "Breast-Touching Festival". During the three-day festival in the lunar month of July, young women would expose one breast for any man to touch. Those whose breasts were touched would take that as an auspicious sign. Later, however, the Chuxiong government rejected the posts as purely fabricated.
Categories: Sex/Romance Comments (0)
Salinas crop circle
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 31, 2013
A crop circle has appeared in Salinas, California. It looks vaguely like a microchip. I assume this must be a publicity stunt of some kind. [links: nbcbayarea, mercurynews]
Categories: Crop Circles Comments (1)
What happens when lightning strikes sand
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 30, 2013
In June 2013, the image below started to circulate online. It was launched into viral status after being posted on Reddit, where it was captioned, "This is what happens when lightning strikes sand." When lightning strikes sand, it can form fulgurites, which are also known as "lightning tubes" or "petrified lightning". Tonya Clayton offers a good, one-sentence explanation of what these are: "If the in-ground moisture content is just right, the sand melts and fuses, forming beautiful glassy tubes whose branches record the lightning's path." -How to read a Florida Gulf Coast Beach Is that thing in the picture a fulgurite? No, it isn't.…
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (0)
Nice to see kids learning about the history of hoaxes!
The Confused English-Language Student
Posted by The Curator on Sat Dec 28, 2013
The Borneo Post offers a Malay urban legend about a confused English-language student who bumps into an English speaker (identifiable as a "white man") at the airport and says, "I'm sorry." The English speaker replies, "I'm sorry too." The learner replies, "I'm sorry three." "What for?" "I'm sorry five" The English speaker: "I'm sick of this," and starts to leave. The learner: "I'm sorry seven." ‘I’m sorry three, five, seven’ tickles delegates during debate on economy Borneo Post KUALA LUMPUR: An anecdote from a Malay student trying to master the English language while preparing to…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (0)
Holy Cheesecake
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 27, 2013
A family in Scottsdale, Arizona recently made a cheesecake. As it was cooling off it, it cracked in the shape of a cross. The reporter for azcentral.com asks: "Is this a simple crust cracking or is this actually Jesus Christ coming back and showing support for this family's religious beliefs?" Um. I guess I'll choose option A. My wife (the cook in the family) says it cracked because they didn't make it right. If you overbeat the batter, you'll get too much air in it, which can cause the cracking. The family decided not to eat the holy cheesecake. Instead, they hope to sell it and donate…
Categories: Pareidolia Comments (3)
Saved by the Myth of Poisonous Poinsettias
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 26, 2013
According to a decaces-old urban legend, the leaves of poinsettias (aka the Christmas Plant) are extremely toxic, and can be fatal if ingested. But the reality is that poinsettias aren't toxic at all. They're not edible, but if you do eat them the worst that will happen is you'll get an upset stomach. You're not going to die. One of the most thorough debunkings of the "poisonous poinsettia" legend can be found in a Nov. 1996 article in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine: "Poinsettia exposures have good outcomes... just as we thought." The authors of the study reviewed 22,793 cases of poinsettia exposure reported to health care…
Categories: Urban Legends Comments (2)
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.