The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
‘Help Me, I’m German!’
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 15, 2013
UK police are warning drivers of a new scam in which fraudsters pose as stranded motorists in lay-bys, beseeching the aid of good samaritans with pleas such as, "Help me, I'm German!" The fraudsters claim that they're out of gas and have lost their wallet. But they offer gold jewelry in return for money. The scam is that the gold jewelry is fake. [cambridge-news] When I first saw the headline I thought it was going to be about people who wake up, realize they've become German, and cry out for help. Kind of like a Germanified version of Gregor Samsa. That would have been better.
Categories: Scams Comments (3)
Typing fake profiles causes wrist injury (maybe)
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 13, 2013
Doriana Silva says she was hired by Ashley Madison (that matchmaking service that caters to people who want to have extramarital affairs) in order to type up 1000 fake female profiles for the company's new Portuguese-language website. Doing this, she claims, led to severe wrist and forearm pain, and she now wants compensation, to the tune of $20 million. Ashley Madison admits it hired Silva, but dismisses her claims as frivolous. It points out that one of Silva's recent facebook photos shows her jet skiing during a vacation, apparently unhampered by severe wrist pain. [When will people learn that if it's on facebook, everyone can potentially see it?] As for the idea…
Categories: Sex/Romance Comments (0)
Dave Wilson—Not Black
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 13, 2013
Dave Wilson insists he didn't get elected to the Houston Community College System Board of Trustees by "pretending to be black," though many people are now accusing him of doing exactly that. He says he merely ran a smart campaign and used "targeted marketing" to appeal to voters in the majority black neighborhood where he was running. Yes, he avoided putting a photo of his own white face in his campaign literature, but included lots of stock photos of smiling black people. But there's nothing illegal in that. And yes, he did prominently claim to be endorsed by Ron Wilson. People might have assumed…
In the first months of 1945, the Allied forces began advancing rapidly on Berlin. But to the press correspondents tagging along behind the military, it seemed as if the going was actually quite slow. They had thought they would be in Berlin in a few days, but instead officers kept telling them that Berlin would be reached soon, but there was just one more stream, one more creek, one more canal, one more small river that had to be taken first. So Bill Heinz of the New York Sun joked that the path to Berlin would be clear as soon as Unterstitzen on the Bleiweis was taken — the joke being that there was no…
Categories: Places Comments (0)
Andy Kaufman’s Daughter
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 12, 2013
The surprise guest at this year's Andy Kaufman Awards, which took place in NYC over the long weekend, was Andy Kaufman's 24-year-old daughter. The surprise is that Kaufman died 29 years ago. And Andy didn't store his sperm, or anything like that, in order to facilitate post-mortem conception. Andy's brother Michael explained that Andy faked his death because "Andy wanted to go into hiding and live a normal life, that he'd met and fallen in love with a woman and had a daughter, and that he didn't want Michael or anyone to say anything while their own father was still alive. Andy's and Michael's father died this summer. " [via The Comics Comic]
Categories: Death, Identity/Imposters Comments (2)
Paris Hilton Says ‘Stop Being Poor’
Posted by The Curator on Sat Nov 09, 2013
A photo has been circulating recently that shows Paris Hilton at a party wearing a tank top that bears the message: "Stop Being Poor." Paris Hilton has hardly carved out a reputation for herself as a champion of social justice. Nor is she known for her keen intelligence. So it's not hard to believe that she might have worn something like this. The photo also plays to ancient stereotypes of the insensitive rich. The old "Let them eat cake" attitude (a phrase that's commonly, but mistakenly, attributed to Marie Antoinette). And this stereotype certainly has some basis in reality. But in this case,…
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (0)
The Nigerian Message-In-A-Bottle Bank Scam
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 07, 2013
Warning: if you find a message in a bottle requesting your help with transferring £4,500,000 out of Nigeria, it may be a scam. Tom Fenton recently found such a message in a bottle while cycling along the Thames. It was written by Barrister Umsloppogas Adinga: Dear Friend, I am pleased that this letter has reached you safely. I was given your name as an honourable and upright person to do business with. Let me introduce myself; I am Umsloppogas Adinga a barrister working in the Nigerian inheritance court and have been assigned to the estate of a Mr Bates who has left an unclaimed estate…
Categories: Scams Comments (4)
An Igorot With A Tail, 1925
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 05, 2013
Here's a case of a fake "viral" image that made its way into the scientific literature back in 1925, demonstrating that the phenomenon of strange, doctored images circulating around existed long before the internet, although the internet certainly boosted the phenomenon to new levels. The 1925 case: In the fourth edition of his book I Believe in God and in Evolution, published in 1925, William Keen included a short account of "Human Beings With Tails": Human Beings With Tails The literature as to tails in human beings is extensive. Cases have been reported from every continent, and, including the United States, from almost every important nation in the world.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Science Comments (2)
Myth: 30,000 new words have been added to Polish since 1945
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 05, 2013
From the most recent issue of the International Journal of Lexicography: one can find highly interesting cases of the 'Eskimo hoax' type in accounts of the history of Polish vocabulary, the one most often found being the statement that there are 30,000 'new words' (and one million technical terms) in Polish that appeared after 1945. This claim is not based on adequate empirical data. Piotr Wierzchon discusses the hoax on pages 178-183 of the book under review [Depozytorium leksykalne jezyka polskiego. Nowe fotomaterialy z lat 1901-2010.] Unfortunately I don't have access to the book being reviewed. Nor do I know Polish, so I couldn't read it even if I did. So that's all…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (2)
Giants Visit Old Lady
Posted by The Curator on Sat Nov 02, 2013
The city government of Ningguo in eastern China's Anhui province has admitted that, yes, this photo, which was recently posted to its website, was digitally manipulated. It's supposed to show four officials paying a friendly visit to 103-year-old Cheng Yanchun. But now it's become the subject of widespread mockery, once people noticed the unusual size mismatch between the woman and the officials. (That small object in the lower left right of the photo is the woman.) Also, one of the officials appears to have lost his legs. The official explanation is that there was no room in the woman's apartment for everyone to pose together. So a staffer created this photo oddity. [Want China Times]
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (2)
Soylent Food
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 01, 2013
Soylent describes itself as "food without the hassle." It's basically a protein shake. But unlike most protein shakes that bear notices warning that they're not intended as a food substitute (merely a diet supplement), Soylent claims that it is a food substitute. You can live on this stuff. According to Fox News, the makers of Soylent chose the name as a playful reference to Soylent Green, the well-known 70s sci-fi movie about human cannibalism. However, Soylent doesn't contain human meat. Which is to say that Soylent is NOT a hoax or a joke. Even though it may sound like one. (I, for one, was confused for…
Categories: Food Comments (1)
A Brief History of Prescription Windshields
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 01, 2013
I've been spending a lot of time recently adding to the April Fool archive, and in doing so I've noticed that a lot of April 1st jokes get repeated again and again over the years. One joke in particular caught my eye. In the past 20 years, prescription windshields (or windscreens, as the British say) have been the theme of corporate April Fool campaigns at least 4 separate times — and possibly more, for all I know. This made me wonder: how old is the 'prescription windshield' joke? It's probably as old as automobile windshields. But one of the earliest references to it I found was in a Gracie…
The Candy Witch
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 31, 2013
In 2004, the researchers Jacqueline Woolley, Elizabeth Boerger, and Arthur Markman conducted a study at the University of Texas at Austin in which they told young children (ages 3 to 5) at a childcare center about the "Candy Witch." This was the script they used: 'Let me tell you about the Candy Witch. I have never seen the Candy Witch so I don't have a real picture of her. But somebody made a doll that looks like her, and I have a picture of that. Here it is. This is what she looks like. (Speaker shows picture of a Candy Witch doll and passes the picture around.) She's a really nice witch. And do you know…
Categories: Paranormal, Psychology Comments (0)
The Peril of Cyber Romance
Posted by The Curator on Thu Oct 31, 2013
A bizarre love triangle. Wang Pai and Lili struck up a romance online, but when they first met in real life, they realized that, oops!, they were father-in-law/daughter-in-law. Even worse, Wang's son, Wang Jai, had tailed his wife to her rendezvous. The whole mess ended in a brawl, leaving Lili with missing teeth and Wang Pai with a serious head injury. This story was first reported recently by the Heilongjiang Morning Post, and then by ChinaSMACK, the Daily Mail, and a whole bunch of other news outlets. But the Heilongjiang Morning Post, realizing the entire tale was a hoax invented by Wei Hongji, a reporter with Muleng Television, has posted an…
Categories: Sex/Romance Comments (0)
The World’s Leading Authority on Poisoned Candy
Posted by The Curator on Sat Oct 26, 2013
In 1985, Joel Best published an article in the sociology journal Social Problems analyzing reports of children receiving dangerous treats on Halloween (razor blades in apples, poisoned candy, etc.). After doing an extensive review of newspaper databases for all cases between 1959 and 1984, he couldn't find a single instance of a child being killed by a Halloween treat, although there were a handful of cases (18) of minor injuries, and a larger number of reports of the discovery of contaminated treats without injury. Although he suspected that most if not all of these discovery reports were hoaxes. So he concluded that the idea of "Halloween Sadism" was…
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