The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
The Sandpaper Test, 1960
Actress who claimed she was kidnapped by puritans, 1950

The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
The Gallery of Fake Viral Images
Use your left ear to detect lies
The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar Hoax, 1874
Tourist Guy 9/11 Hoax, Sep 2001
The Very Tall Bride
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 18, 2013
The above picture has been doing the rounds in recent months, often with the caption "Very Tall Bride." The bride in the photo is Allyssa DeHaan, a collegiate basketball player at Michigan State University from 2006 to 2010. In real life DeHaan is very tall — 6 ft 9in. So could this photo be real? Well, no. When I first saw it, I thought perhaps she was standing on a box, perhaps for a gag photo. But some more investigation revealed her height in the photo is a result of good, old-fashioned photoshopping. The manipulation was done by a DeviantArt member going by the username lowerrider, who enjoys creating fantasy photos of giant women. I found the original, unaltered photo of...
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (1)
The Girl Scout Cookie Order Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 18, 2013
This is all over the news. [oregonlive, csmonitor] Some girl scouts in Portland, Oregon thought they had landed a massive sale of cookies when they received an order via email for 6000 boxes — a $24,000 order. Whoever was handling the order (a scout's mother, I assume) exchanged some emails with the buyer, and everything seemed legitimate. The buyer was even an acquaintance of the troop. So the girl scouts went ahead and processed the order, committing themselves to receiving 6000 boxes. And then they discovered the mega-order was a fake. The buyer was actually a young girl using her mother's email address. The girl was apparently young enough that she didn't fully understand the...
Categories: Pranks Comments (1)
Ukrainian Attack Dolphins
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 15, 2013
Word got out this week that the Ukrainian military had lost three dolphins in the Black Sea after the dolphins swam away from their trainers, apparently to search for mates. The problem: these were trained attack dolphins "equipped with firearms." The source of the story was a document that appeared online that seemed to be a scan of a letter from the head of a Ukrainian military research institute to naval command warning of the dolphin escape. The story took off when it got picked up by RIA Novosti (the Russian International News Agency) and from there spread to the western media. However, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has denied the story is true, pointing out that the scanned document...
Categories: Animals, Military Comments (0)
Motor Trip Hoax, 1944
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 12, 2013
I found the following story posted in the March 3, 1944 issue of the Carteret Press (scanned and hosted by the Woodbridge, NJ Public Library): MOTOR TRIP HOAX Los Angeles — A new kind of hoax was pulled when four men answered an ad asking for passengers on a trip to Raleigh, N.C. The driver picked them up, collected $50 from each and then stopped at the post office. He went inside and that was the last the passengers saw of him. The car had been rented. But I'm having trouble understanding exactly how the scam would have been profitable. First, if the car was a rental, wouldn't it have been easy to find out the identity of the scammer? Unless, of course, he used a fake ID to rent the...
Categories: Scams Comments (4)
Aliens among us?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 08, 2013
File this under Low Threshold of Belief. Several Southeast Asian news sites have recently published photos that supposedly document the presence of "extra terrestrial beings" here on Earth. For instance, the Visayan Daily Star ran a picture (below) of "Emily Santodelsis" posing with a small alien. Strangely, she insisted that she hadn't noticed the alien while the picture was being taken. She only spotted it later, when she looked at the photo. And back in January, the Bangkok Post ran a picture of an alien supposedly spotted on a beach in Thailand. The Open Minds UFO investigation site explains that the appearance of these alien photos coincides with the addition of new special effects...
Fake Crystal Skulls
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 08, 2013
The latest issue of Chemical & Engineering News has an article that reviews the history of how the crystal "Aztec" skulls that began showing up in the mid-19th century were eventually found to be fake. The take home is that the following pieces of evidence led researchers to conclude the skulls were modern forgeries: The skulls didn't come from documented archaeological sites. The skulls' teeth were suspiciously linear and perfect, whereas the teeth in other Aztec art reflected the lack of Aztec dentistry. Microscopic analysis revealed that the crystal skulls had regular etch marks, such as would be made by modern rotary wheels and hard abrasives, not ancient hand-held tools. Spectroscopic...
Categories: Art, History Comments (1)
Ralph Napierski, Fake Bishop
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 07, 2013
On Monday, a man calling himself "Basilius," wearing a cassock, black fedora and purple sash, tried to gain access to the pre-conclave meeting of cardinals at the Vatican. He made it through one level of security before being stopped by the Swiss Guard. Spiegel Online has a profile of the guy, whose real name is Ralph Napierski. Apparently Napierski has a history of posing as a Catholic bishop, though Spiegel isn't quite sure what to make of him, debating whether he's "a joker, a church critic or simply an eccentric with strong leanings toward esotericism." Napierski's history includes: Claiming to be the leader of the "Catholic Order Corpus Dei" (a non-existent order, but perhaps a play on...
A levitating computer mouse?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 07, 2013
This levitating computer mouse (aka "The Bat") is listed as a product in the "testing period and research" phase on the site of Kibardin Design. But it's raising a few skeptical eyebrows. Not that it wouldn't be possible to build a levitating mouse, but io9 notes, "to us it looks a little like someone took a Microsoft Arc Mouse, fixed it to a plastic ring, and added a few aesthetic details with the help of some carefully applied modeling clay and a couple coats of Krylon." The Microsoft Arc Mouse Even if it is real, what would be the point of a levitating mouse? The Kibardin Design site says the mouse is designed "to prevent and treat the contemporary disease Carpal tunnel syndrome," but...
Categories: Technology Comments (1)
Bonsai Kitten—The Book
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 07, 2013
Remember Bonsai Kittens — the hoax about growing kittens in a jar? It seems that they've finally made their way from the internet into print, serving as the title for Lakshmi Narayan's new novel. I would have expected that a novel titled "Bonsai Kitten" would be a work of gross-out fiction aimed at young men. But not so! Narayan was inspired by the idea of a Bonsai Kitten to write a work of serious literary fiction about the struggles of young brides in Indian society. Here's the book description on Amazon: "I'm nothing but a bonsai kitten!" thought Divya despairingly. Bonsai kitten — a pervert's contention that just as plants can be stunted, so can living beings. And wasn't...
Categories: Books Comments (1)
Miniature Amityville Horror house
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 06, 2013
Artist Tracey Snelling has created an installation which she calls Last House on the Left. It consists of 4 miniature houses from horror films (The Birds, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and the Amityville Horror. It's the Amityville Horror Dutch Colonial that caught my eye. If I ever did have a brick-and-mortar hoax museum, it would make a great addition! Snelling's miniature houses feature sound effects as well as tiny LCDs that play clips from the films when you look through the windows. The installation is currently on exhibit at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. The Stark Insider blog has posted a video of the Amityville house on display: Update: According to Tim...
Categories: Art, Paranormal Comments (0)
Gummy Virgin Mary
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 06, 2013
Desmond and Amy Duguay of Turner, Maine claim that they found a piece of Dot gummy candy that resembles the Virgin Mary. They've put it up for sale on eBay, and bidding is currently at $215. [Bangor Daily News] But some are crying hoax. The website corporatemal.com notes that there are Virgin Mary molds, which might have been used to create the Virgin Mary Dot. However, the Duguays are sticking to their guns and insist their "Gummy Virgin Mary" is no hoax. In response to the accusations, they've posted this message on their eBay auction page: I have seen pictures of the mold with a tape measure next to it and it is larger than the Holy DOT. All I can say is that I purchased the box of...
Categories: eBay, Pareidolia Comments (0)
The Pirate Bay isn’t moving to North Korea
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 06, 2013
On Monday, The Pirate Bay issued a press release on its blog announcing that it was moving to North Korea: PRESS RELEASE, NEW PROVIDER FOR TPB FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 3 MARCH 102, 평양 (PYONGYANG). The Pirate Bay has been hunted in many countries around the world. Not for illegal activities but being persecuted for beliefs of freedom of information. Today, a new chapter is written in the history of the movement, as well as the history of the internets... Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network. This is truly an ironic situation. We have been fighting for a free world, and our opponents are mostly huge...
No meat in Nautabökunni?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 05, 2013
In response to the widening horse-meat scandal in Europe, Icelandic food authorities decided to conduct tests on some of their country's own food products. They didn't find any horse meat, but to their surprise they discovered that one brand of beef pie, Nautabökunni, contained no meat at all. Or, at least, the pies had "no mammalian DNA." Instead, the pies contained some kind of vegetable matter masquerading as beef. The company that makes the pies says it's dumbfounded by the results, and has asked for more tests, questioning the accuracy of the initial ones. The co-owner of the company is quoted as saying, "I'm not saying that this is chock-full with mincemeat, but we use soya meat to...
Categories: Food Comments (4)
Man fakes his own abduction to avoid girlfriend’s wrath
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 05, 2013
Not exactly a criminal mastermind. Rahmell Pettway needed a good excuse to explain his two-week absence from his Bedford-Stuyvesant home to his girlfriend. So he faked his own abduction, tying himself up with duct tape on the side of a street. When found, he told police that two men in a light-blue minivan had first abducted him and then dumped him there. The problem? The roll of duct tape was still dangling from his wrists. This made the police suspicious, and soon Pettway confessed the whole scheme. They arrested him for filing a false report. Brooklyn man fakes his own kidnapping to explain two-week absence to girlfriend nypost.com authorities grew suspicious of his account, and Pettway...
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (0)
Belly Ballot Baby Name Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 05, 2013
Belly Ballot is an internet site that helps parents name their baby by "crowdsourcing" the process. That is, it allows parents to create a shortlist of names that their friends and family can vote on. Back in January, the site announced a "Belly Branding" contest: "One lucky pregnant couple may win $5000 in exchange for letting the entire world decide their baby's name." And in mid-February it declared a winner, LA-based art teacher Natasha Hill. It posted some photos of Natasha as well as a screenshot of her facebook page. Belly Ballot told the Huffington Post that Hill was chosen from a pool of nearly 80 applicants because of "her honesty and enthusiasm." The unusual contest received...
Categories: Birth/Babies Comments (1)
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.