The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper Hoax, 1998
The Great Wall of China Hoax, 1899
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976

Adolf Hitler Baby Photo Hoax, 1933
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
The Hoaxing Hitchhiker, 1941
The Case of the Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
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 the "cento format." Apparently this is a kind of poetry that's a patchwork of lines from other poems. He just...
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...
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 weren't actually shocking someone. I'll have to...
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 Cryptids, they analyze the history of mythic beasts...
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...
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....
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
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." I'm skeptical that they didn't do...
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 soccer to be a success — so much so that it's decided...
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. But...
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)
If you say gullible slowly, it sounds like oranges
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 28, 2013
A fairly old meme, but it was new to me. Image via theburlapbag.com.
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (3)
Mammoth Hailstone Hoax, 1911
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 27, 2013
I found this photo in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society. It shows a Mr. O'Mahony (of Pipestone, Minnesota) proudly showing off a "mammoth hail stone" — size: 6" x 6" x 8" and weighing 5½ lbs. A note attached to the photo reveals that the hailstone was a fake: Mr. O'Mahony was the victim of a hoax. This large chunk of clear icebox ice was dropped through a skylight in a public building where it was found and assumed was fell from the sky during as a huge hail stone. The instigator of the creative prank confessed many years later - after he grew up and became a prominent citizen in Pipestone County. Hail ice is milky colored...
Categories: Science Comments (0)
Hello, Nessie!
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 26, 2013
Well, this is one of the lamer Nessie photos I've ever seen. Not even a head poking above the water! The video is even worse than the photo. Hello Nessie, it must be that time of year... Daily Mail An amateur photographer has captured an eerie photo from the shore of Loch Ness which could encourage those who believe in tales of a monster living beneath the surface of the lake. The image was taken by David Elder at Fort Augustus, at the south-west end of the 23-mile-long body of water in northern Scotland. It shows a long bow wave apparently caused by some sort of disturbance on the surface of the loch.
Categories: Nessie Comments (1)
Paul Krassner’s Stereophonic Hoax, 1960
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 26, 2013
Back in 1960, a story got around about a TV viewer in the South who thought he saw a black man kissing a white woman on a popular TV show. So he wrote to the sponsor of the show to complain. The sponsor acted quickly to calm the man and assure him that they would never sponsor a show on which such an act occurred. They flew an account executive down to see the man and held a private screening for him, to demonstrate to him that the actor in question was actually white. His local station had accidentally broadcast the show at a high contrast ratio, making the actor appear darker than he really was. When Paul Krassner, editor of the counterculture publication
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (2)
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.