The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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...
Looks interesting. I'll add it to my reading list.
An interview with the authors:
The Science Behind Bigfoot and Other Monsters
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...
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
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...
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...
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...
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."...
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...
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....
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.
A fairly old meme, but it was new to me. Image via theburlapbag.com.
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 and not clear.
If this hailstone...
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...
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.
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 The Realist, heard about this, he...
Nairobi singer Moses Kamunya (aka Maleek) posted on facebook that his daughter had died. Sympathetic friends then sent him money to help with the funeral costs. But when people showed up at the mother's house for the funeral, (the mother being the Maleek's former girlfriend), she hit the roof because her daughter was still very much alive. Maleek now explains that "the devil had misled him." However, he doesn't seem quite ready to return the money.
Apparently Maleek is fairly well known in Nairobi for a song titled "Who's Gonna Help."
City singer 'kills' his child on Facebook
A city singer has admitted he collected Sh300,000 by claiming on Facebook that his daughter had...
Cadbury only made a half-hearted attempt to disguise that this clip is really an ad for their "Bournville" chocolates, which they're promoting with the tagline "Not So Sweet." Halfway through the clip, a small train chugs through the scene, and painted on its side is, "Bournville -- Not So Sweet."
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.