The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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The Great Wall of China Hoax, 1899
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983

September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
Princess Caraboo, servant girl who became a princess, 1817
The Great New York Zoo Escape Hoax, 1874
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
Did Paul McCartney die on Nov. 9, 1966?
Samsung invents the on/off switch
The Lovely Feejee Mermaid, 1842
Miss Uzbekistan
Posted by The Curator on Sun Sep 15, 2013
The Miss World Competition (set to begin Sep 28 in Indonesia) seemed quite pleased to have its first-ever representative from Uzbekistan. But perhaps not anymore, because the young woman, 18-year-old Rakhima Ganieva, is attracting more attention than any of the other contestants, and not for the right reasons. The problem is that no one can figure out how she earned the title Miss Uzbekistan. No one in Uzbekistan remembers a selection process. In fact, in her home country they're calling her an imposter. It looks like she simply showed up in Indonesia and declared herself to be Miss Uzbekistan. Miss World officials are, so far, remaining silent about the rapidly growing controversy....
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (0)
Dead Dog Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Sat Sep 14, 2013
One of the easiest ways to attract attention online is to claim to have done something shocking or disturbing. It's also known as trolling. A case in point is a young woman (using the twitter account @illumivato) who recently claimed that she killed her dog because the British pop group One Direction wouldn't follow her on Twitter. She first sent them a tweet asking them to follow her "or I'll break my dog's neck." Then, when they inevitably ignored her, she followed this up with a tweet showing herself cradling her dead dog. [nydailynews.com] But as David Emery points out, the picture of her and her dog dates back a couple of months. Plus, she's been making similar threats via tweet for...
Massive Louvre Ticket Scam
Posted by The Curator on Fri Sep 13, 2013
Parisian authorities are now warily considering the possibility that thousands of Chinese tourists might be getting into the Louvre for free, after Belgian customs officials discovered fake Louvre tickets that were "perfect clones" of genuine tickets in a package sent from China. Though I assume the tourists paid someone for the tickets. They just paid the wrong person. [BBC News]
Categories: Scams Comments (0)
Trout-Pig
Posted by The Curator on Fri Sep 13, 2013
A trout-pig hybrid, discovered in the Tet river in southeastern France. As reported by L'Indépendant, April 1, 2013. I imagine that, when cooked, this would taste like trout wrapped in bacon.
Categories: Animals, April Fools Day Comments (2)
Collage Poetry
Posted by The Curator on Fri Sep 13, 2013
Prize-winning Australian poet Andrew Slattery (winner, most recently, of the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, that came with a jackpot of £5000) is being stripped of many of his prizes after judges discovered that most of his poetry consists of lines lifted from the works of other poets. For instance, his poem Ransom, which won him the Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize (and potentially $10,000 — he hadn't received the money yet) was a stitched-together version of "50-odd poets' work, some of them famous, such as Americans Charles Simic and Robert Bly, and one Australian, Chris Andrews." Slattery now explains that he intended his poems to be a form of "collage poetry" written in...
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (1)
Sloth Family Portrait
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 12, 2013
Gapers Block offers the full story behind the famous "Sloth Family Portrait" revealing that yes, of course, the photo was intentionally staged. And no, it wasn't photoshopped in any way. And the sloth in the foreground was stuffed, not alive. The story, summarized, is that the couple in the photo are Jim and Debbie Gallo, owners of Shangri-La Vintage, a Chicago vintage clothes store. They found the stuffed sloth at an estate sale in the early 1990s, bought it, and then thought it would be funny to dress up in tacky clothes and wigs and get their picture taken with it at the local K-Mart. The Sloth Family Portrait, and later internet fame, was the result.
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (0)
Questions about the Milgram experiment
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 12, 2013
Gina Perry has authored a new book about Stanley Milgram's famous obedience experiment (Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments) in which she argues that Milgram fudged his data and conclusions. Boing Boing reviews it. Perry suggests the fudging happened in several ways: First, although Milgram claimed his experiment always followed a set script, Perry reviewed the original audio tapes and found this wasn't the case. Instead, Milgram's experimenter "wheedled and nagged the subjects into turning up the shock dial."Second, she argues that a substantial portion of the experimental subjects saw through Milgram's ruse and realized that they...
Categories: Psychology, Science Comments (0)
Abominable Science
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 11, 2013
Looks interesting. I'll add it to my reading list. An interview with the authors: The Science Behind Bigfoot and Other Monsters National Geographic There's ample circumstantial evidence for all these creatures: eyewitness accounts, blurry photographs, mysterious footprints. For many cryptozoologists—the people who search for legendary animals—that evidence is enough to confirm a monster's existence. But it will take more than shadowy sightings to convince Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero that Bigfoot or any of the other monsters are real. What Loxton and Prothero want is scientific evidence. In their new book, Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous...
Categories: Books, Cryptozoology Comments (1)
Mystery Letterbox
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 11, 2013
A red letterbox has appeared on the side of a bridge crossing the Thames in the village of Sonning-on-Thames. It's accessible only from the river. The Royal Mail says it's "a mystery to us." What makes this story doubly strange is that spoon-bender Uri Geller happens to live in this town and was interviewed about it by the BBC. He speculates that "the ghost of a mischievous little girl" might have put the letterbox there. Uri Geller mystified by letterbox on Thames Sonning Bridge BBC News Entertainer Uri Geller and other villagers say they are mystified by the appearance of a red letterbox in the middle of a bridge. The box has been placed on a buttress on the downstream side of the...
Categories: Pranks Comments (3)
Daniel Engber doesn't think Jimmy Kimmel's "Twerking Girl on Fire" hoax was very funny. He wrote in Slate: I think it illustrates everything that's wrong with viral marketing. Kimmel's prank is not a biting satire, nor is it a mirror to our stupid culture. It's a hostile, self-promoting act—a covert ad for Jimmy Kimmel Live—rendered as ironic acid that corrodes our sense of wonder. At times Engber's critique became so over-the-top that I wasn't sure if he was being entirely serious, or if he was deliberately trolling. Nevertheless, what he wrote did make me think of an ongoing controversy within the world of hoaxing. The issue is that there are two traditions within the history...
Categories: History Comments (1)
Vancouver UFO Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 11, 2013
On September 3, a small "UFO" was seen hovering outside a Vancouver Canadians baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium. Turns out it was a fake UFO that was part of a viral marketing scheme to promote Vancouver's H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. Footage of the UFO was circulated online by an ad agency. The Space Centre has seen attendance rise by 65 percent in the last week. So apparently the viral campaign worked. [CTV News] It certainly isn't the first time a planetarium has used a hoax to drum up business. The example that comes to mind is the time back in 1940 when Philadelphia's Franklin Institute created a panic by announcing that the world was going to end the next day. The startling...
Twerking Girl Catches Fire Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 10, 2013
On Sep 3, Caitlin Heller posted a video on youtube that she titled, "Worst Twerk Fail EVER - Girl Catches Fire!" She further explained: "I tried making a sexy twerk video for my boyfriend and things got a little too hot " The video quickly went viral, accumulating 9 million views in less than a week, and getting airtime on numerous media outlets. But last night, "Caitlin Heller" appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the hoax was revealed. Her real name was Daphne Avalon. She was a stunt woman, and the entire video had been staged for Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel claims that his team didn't send it to TV stations or tweet it. He says, "we just put it on youtube and let the magic happen."...
Categories: Videos Comments (0)
Soccer without a ball?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Sep 07, 2013
The latest episode of CBC Radio's This is That show discussed how the Midlake Youth Athletic Association in Midlake, Ontario has decided to eliminate the ball from its soccer program, in order to "further address some of the negative side of competition." Keith Schultz, head coach (aka "Imagination Captain") of the Thundercats, the Midlake ball-less soccer team, is interviewed, and he explains that the course of the game is determined by "the kids' interpretation of what went down." Schultz admits that he occasionally misses coaching traditional soccer (with a ball), but because "injuries are down and self-esteem is up," the Youth Association has judged its experiment with ball-less...
Categories: Sports Comments (1)
The Good Health Bug
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 05, 2013
A case of satirical prophecy? On April 1, 1931, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on its front page declaring that health can "be caught." It explained that a German scientist, Dr. Eugene Lirpa, had discovered that good health was caused by a bacteria, "Bacillus sanitatis." People who lacked this bacteria grew ill. Therefore, it would be possible to make people healthy by infecting them with the "germ of health." The article was an April Fool's Day hoax. In fact, I think it's the ONLY April Fool hoax the LA Times has ever perpetrated, because the major US newspapers (unlike their British counterparts) tend to view themselves as being somewhat above the vulgar tradition of April Foolery....
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (0)
Bricked-in Car Prank, 1964
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 29, 2013
October 1964: The work of pranksters. A car boxed in by brick walls on a foot bridge of the North Branch of the Chicago River in the 5000 block of North Spaulding. Source: Chicago Daily News.
Categories: Pranks Comments (2)
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.