The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
Script of Casablanca rejected, 1982
A black lion: real or fake?
Did Poe say 'The best things in life make you sweaty'?
Cat that walked 3000 miles to find its owners, 1951
Jernegan's Gold Accumulator Scam, 1898
September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
The Diaphote, a television hoax, 1880
Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper Hoax, 1998
Motorcycle Trip Through Chernobyl
image A month or two ago a woman named Elena posted a travelogue on the web about her solitary motorcycle ride through the deserted area around Chernobyl. With all the eerie pictures she took of the abandoned, irradiated 'ghost town,' her travelogue quickly became one of the most linked-to sites on the net. Now there are accusations that her travelogue wasn't completely honest. Apparently she didn't go around alone on a motorcycle. She went in a car with her husband and a friend. Elena defends herself, admitting that much of her story was 'more poetry' than reality, but noting that most of it was still reality. I'm inclined to side with her. The pictures of Chernobyl, and what it's become, were real. How much does it really matter that she made them more interesting by wrapping them in a tale about a solitary motorcycle ride? (via JohnFord.net)
Categories: Exploration/Travel, Places
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 21, 2004
Comments (43)
The pictures are eerie enough without the BS motorcycle story... a rather dissapointing 'poetic license'...
Posted by Bob S. Yunkle  on  Sat May 22, 2004  at  04:11 AM
How much does it really matter that she made them more interesting by wrapping them in a tale about a solitary motorcycle ride?

It matters if you care about ethics. I've done a hoax or two myself, but come clean when the game is up.
Posted by Ray  in  Devon, UK  on  Tue May 25, 2004  at  02:32 PM
Should have known. Why would someone take their helmet and bag it up and carry it around a building when there is no chance of it getting stolen? There are no pics of the bike actually in the town. The signs were there that this was fake.
Posted by Joe  in  TX  on  Thu May 27, 2004  at  06:43 AM
Too bad! Except some of the pics, everything else must be forged. Bad puttycat!
Posted by Dan Alex  in  Suceava, Ro  on  Wed Jun 02, 2004  at  05:48 AM
The whole debunker sub-culture lives to get their panties in a knot over minor BS. The photos are real enough. A group of programmers went through to get the lay of the land for their Stalker FPS game, if you google around you can see other photos of the area. I think the photos in either case way way overshadow any bickerings over the exactness of how they were obtained.

I would suggest that every "I live to debunk things" geek out there fly over to russia, take the tour, and publish their own web page. (Might set em back all of $1200 if they stay a few weeks and see the sights) Make the captions as boring and mundane as they like. The photos will still speak for themselves. And with luck that extra 20 rads after rolling around in the moss all day trying to debunk the "radiation is bad for you" thing they'll be less likely to reproduce.

If any of you dorks out there actually do go there get some photos of Kiev as well. And make sure to pack 4-5 rolls of toilet paper as it tends to be scarce at the worst possible times.
Posted by Crazy Eddie  in  Parts Unknown  on  Thu Jun 10, 2004  at  10:59 PM
Regarding Elena's photoessay-every attempt I have made to locate Elena's so-called "admissions" have resulted in failure. Clicking on the highlighted link "Elena defends herself" (via JohnFord.net) is a typical case in point. The link takes you to a meaningless home page with no comments from Elena. So where are the claimed "admissions" from HER that her story was more poetry than reality? I have reseached more than fifty links so far. Mary Mycio claims to "know" her, but as with all accusers, no one actually reveals her full name. Particularly amusing are the comments of Tony Brown, who like other detracters does not hesitate to make unsubstantiated statements, but just can't seem to remember Elena's father's name either.
WHDT-TV v. GM
Posted by marksteiner  in  Stuart Florida USA  on  Wed Jun 16, 2004  at  03:58 PM
Government officials are trying to discredit her. Story is not a hoax. The official death toll is 30 people and Elena showed a human side of Chernobyl tragedy. Better take a look at her new story, very good read if you love history.
http://www.serpentswall.com
Posted by Michael Parker  in  Austria  on  Tue Sep 28, 2004  at  10:57 AM
Marksteiner: this is the Internet, and pages have an Orwellian habit of disappearing down the memory hole. However, check out the Wayback Machine archive of Elena's page, particularly the entry for May 16th 2004: "I am being accused that it was more poetry in this story then reality. I partly accept this accusation, it still was more reality then poetry and it is why this site has millions of people visiting each month from the day when I put it online and I think I have right to say that people love it".
Posted by Ray  on  Tue Nov 02, 2004  at  04:08 PM
Hoax. Elena not ride motorcycle. I was in Cheronbyl on turist trip as she. My guide say, he showed Elena Chenobyl and not ride motorcycle. He sayd, Elena was with husband crual, kicking toys in kindergarten and don't expose the radiation. My guide is good man and I given him money because I know it hard to be with radiation and small salary and such liars as Elena want make fame.
Turkey.
Posted by sercan  in  turkey  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  04:12 PM
Here is another pictorial from the glow-as-you-go zone:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/mozgovaya/116433.html

Notice how many of the pictures are similar? Some are nearly identical, while others are the same location but photographed from a different angle. Maybe they both took the same tour?

An English translation of the above link from http://www.translate.ru:

http://www.online-translator.com/url/tran_url.asp?lang=en&url=http://www.livejournal.com/users/mozgovaya/116433.html&direction=re&template=General&cp1=NO&cp2=NO&autotranslate=on&transliterate=on&psubmit2;.x=40&psubmit2;.y=16

Why did Elena publish some fiction as fact? In the April 30, 2004 archive on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, she states "I just wanted to show people Chernobyl". Fair enough. She is apparently fond of creative writing, as well (and is quite good at it). It is a real shame that Elena didn't put a disclaimer somewhere in her website. She tries to make people aware, weaves a very good yarn, and created an otherwise excellent site. Tiny text tucked in an obscure place would do. As of this date, such a disclaimer is nowhere to be found.

As for Mary Mycio's accusations, remember that Mary has vested interest in all this - a book coming out about Chernobyl. Why would people pay for the book when they can look at Elena's website for free? How do we know that the accusations she made against the website are 100% true?

Apparently, the original site was later relocated to a server on Boot Networks (http://www.kiddofspeed.com www.g,ulagtales.com and http://www.theserpentswall.com are all registered to Boot, not Elena, and, except for theserpentswall contain dated versions of the site). In the scrolling text box at the bottom of http://www.kiddofspeed.com/default.htm it st,ates:

"As the only email contact, I have seen each of the moving emails that were directed to "Elena."
Her words have definitely made the world think about this piece of forgotten history. I have seen every request from news agencies from around the world, each of the big names, begging for interviews."

What is this all about? The only e-mail contact? It seems to imply that the host of that site is receiving and reading e-mails the senders thought were going to Elena. If true, that is deceptive as all hell. I hope it is simply a case of my misinterpreting his words.

FYI - the real homepage is now at http://www.elenafilatova.com It s.eems our web journalist friend has added some battlefield sections that appear to be 100% factual - and also very well done. I, for one, wish her well.
Posted by Glowworm  in  In a fallout shelter  on  Mon May 30, 2005  at  09:01 PM
There's mention of the elena-hoax on today's new york times. Check it, it has picture with my bum on the front page wink

http://travel2.nytimes.com/2005/06/15/international/europe/15chernobyl.html
Posted by random  in  finland  on  Wed Jun 15, 2005  at  08:01 AM
Originally, Elena did not want her email address published. As a result, people would email her hosting company. Thus "the only email contact"

There are also new pics posted from Elena's second ride through Chernobyl.
Posted by friend  in  Web Hosting Provider  on  Wed Aug 31, 2005  at  08:13 PM
I'm glad someone was smart enough to figure this out:

"As for Mary Mycio's accusations, remember that Mary has vested interest in all this - a book coming out about Chernobyl. Why would people pay for the book when they can look at Elena's website for free? How do we know that the accusations she made against the website are 100% true?"
Posted by friend  in  Web Hosting Provider  on  Wed Aug 31, 2005  at  08:15 PM
The hoax created by Elenna is not
only taunting as to the readers as it is
to herself. Why would anyone like to cheat
so many minds?
Posted by Don  on  Sun Oct 23, 2005  at  11:35 AM
As for Mary Mycio's accusations, remember that Mary has vested interest in all this - a book coming out about Chernobyl. Why would people pay for the book when they can look at Elena's website for free? How do we know that the accusations she made against the website are 100% true?"

Evidently you can look at Mary Mycio's website for free, too: http://www.chernobyl.in.ua
Posted by xopc  on  Sun Oct 30, 2005  at  01:35 AM
"Evidently you can look at Mary Mycio's website for free, too: http://www.chernobyl.in.ua"

Yes, and, not surprisingly, many of the photos are like those on Elena's site, and appear to be taken in the same general area. Or are those hoaxes too? The book is not free, however, and Mary does appear unhappy at having her thunder stolen. Evidence for this is that she throws yet another brick at Elena: http://www.chernobyl.in.ua/en/faq/15.

Let's look a little closer at the statements made on that page:

Q:
"Did you ever see that woman, Elena, that rides around the zone on her motorcycle? Her website http://www.kiddofspeed.com was a big thing a few years ago."

A few years ago? It is still a big thing now. Why claim that it is not? And why reference the old version of the site instead of http://www.elenafilatova.com which, is much improved?

A:
"It was also one of the internet's biggest hoaxes. "Elena", whose real name is Lena Filatova, never rode a motocycle in the zone.
She took a day trip in a car with her husband and carried a motorcycle helmet while he snapped pictures of her."

So? The fact that Elena falsely claimed to have rode a motorcycle instead of in a car may be less than honest, but it is not the end of the world. Get over it.

"Her website is full of misleading "facts" and bad science."

Yet those "facts" and "science" do much to make her tale very entertaining. Although Elena may have taken some liberties with science and physics, there is also a great deal in her Chernobyl stories that is factual.

"But it brought the subject of Chernobyl to a huge, international audience. And I commend Lena for using her notoriety to bring attention to other aspects of Ukraine's history in updated versions of her website."

'Her notoriety'? Those remarks commend Elena, but in a rather hostile tone. 'Her fame' would have been a better choice of words.

Remarks which appear to be made to squelch the competiton are hardly the best means of debunking a hoax. That is not to say that Elena's Chernobyl story was entirely accurate, as it did deviate from the truth in some places. It also contained much that was true, and was not created solely to deceive and prank. As such, it does not really qualify as a hoax.
Posted by Glowworm  on  Fri Nov 04, 2005  at  05:54 AM
Why did Elena publish some fiction as fact? In the April 30, 2004 archive on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, she states "I just wanted to show people Chernobyl". Fair enough. She is apparently fond of creative writing, as well (and is quite good at it).
____

She's not very good at creative writing at all. The original website that appeared in the winter of 2004 was barely literate, scientifically asinine and cobbled together from photos in coffee table books that are a dime a dozen in Kiev. Once the site took off, she evidently got other folks to help her with the text. So, give her credit for being a manipulative liar. But not for creative writing.
Posted by xopc  on  Fri Dec 30, 2005  at  03:38 PM
A few years ago? It is still a big thing now. Why claim that it is not? And why reference the old version of the site instead of http://www.elenafilatova.com which, is much improved?
__________

Why are you so determined to defend Lena's lies? The old version of the site is the one that I saw when it was the "it" thing on the net. Improving your site once it gets attention, once you get lots of foreign guys thinking with their dicks to help a hot babe with the text and science, is something else.
___________

So? The fact that Elena falsely claimed to have rode a motorcycle instead of in a car may be less than honest, but it is not the end of the world. Get over it.
_______

I suspect you may be one of those guys thinking with his dick. The image of the hot babe on a bike blasting through a Mad Max radioactive zone was what made the site and Lena hot. Of course it's not the end of the world that it wasn't true. But who the hell is talking about the end of the world here? Only you. Get over yourself.
___________

Yet those "facts" and "science" do much to make her tale very entertaining. Although Elena may have taken some liberties with science and physics, there is also a great deal in her Chernobyl stories that is factual.
____________

In fact, there is very little that is factual. YOu can't take liberties with science and physics. Period.
______________

'Her notoriety'? Those remarks commend Elena, but in a rather hostile tone. 'Her fame' would have been a better choice of words.
_____________

You get fame for doing something positive. You get notoriety for doing something negative. Lena lied. And lied big time. Anyone who has anything to do with Chernobyl in a real way finds her antics unpleasant to say the least. I think Mycio is being charitable.

Keep defending her. But -- dick to brain -- realize that there are no neurons in that part that's driving you. That's called science. What you're talking about is romance -- and I wish you well.
Posted by xopc  on  Fri Dec 30, 2005  at  03:54 PM
Chernobyl happened. One of, if not the biggest, human caused disaster. I am glad Elena has this website and that I am reading it and passing it on to my friends. We should never forget what happened in 1986. Thanks Elena for reminding me and the rest of the short memory of the world's population. Keep riding Elena.
Posted by Shalako  in  Sydney, Australia  on  Sun Jan 08, 2006  at  01:29 AM
id eat her radioactive pussy
Posted by chernobyl mutant  in  pripyat  on  Sun Apr 16, 2006  at  04:30 AM
If you think it is such a big hoax why don't you go buy land there? I mean the land has to be cheap and with the cost of real estate in the world cheap property should appeal to everyone. 12 bucks an acre sounds like a bargain to me, you wouldn't even need to pay for electricity I'm sure there is enough left over radiation to light a few small countries and one or two large ones. Cheers and see you in the funny pages.
Craig
Posted by Craig  on  Tue Apr 18, 2006  at  06:20 PM
Who cares? If you do not believe her just move on... Some people do not believe in Heroshima either, so, it does not mean it never happend. You wish...
I can confirm that pictures are close to truth and it does look like this there... take it or leave it. Who cares..
Posted by CarNet  on  Fri Apr 21, 2006  at  03:29 PM
Who cares? If you do not believe her just move on...
__________________

If you are writing, you obviously care. Thus, far be it for you to tell me to "move on".

_________________________
Some people do not believe in Heroshima either, so, it does not mean it never happend. You wish...
__________________________

Some people actually know how to spell "Hiroshima", which was a well documented event. I'd be interested in knowing who are these people who "do not believe in Heroshima [sic]". But Lena's little motorcycle fantasy wase not a well documented event. In fact, there are no documents proving it whatsoever. What documents exist, prove otherwise. She made up a story, scanned pictures from coffee table books and then, finally, took a trip, in a car, herself when the website took off.

_______________________________
I can confirm that pictures are close to truth and it does look like this there.
__________________________________

I have never denied that the pictures -- those she stole from coffee table books, and those she took herself when she FINALLY took a car trip there -- are of real things.
____________________________________


.. take it or leave it. Who cares..

________________________

You do.
Posted by xopc  on  Sun Apr 23, 2006  at  03:43 PM
I don't doubt Elena Filatova's honesty. It's next to impossible to get one's message through in these times when people want more, bigger, better and when others are willing to go to such extremes of dishonesty to discredit you. I do regret that she felt compelled to embellish. But . . . Hiroshima not happen? Hmmm, maybe Pearl Harbor didn't happen either. Or maybe the real challenge is to learn the truth for ourselves instead of expecting the truth to be spoon fed to us in it's purest form by people who have agendas of their own. I am sure Elena meant her photojournal to be an invitation to further our knowledge about the effects of Chernoble, not an end in itself.
Posted by christine  in  new york  on  Wed Apr 26, 2006  at  05:11 PM
Who is going through extremes of dishonesty to discredit Lena?

I don't know who doesn't believe in Hiroshima. That's a question for CarNet.

I don't what Lena's motives were. Despite all of the attention to her and her website, she has remained silent except to admit that she did embellish "for love of her country". I suspect she's embarassed for being caught in creating one of the great internet hoaxes. In her place, I would be, too.
Posted by xopc  on  Thu Apr 27, 2006  at  04:37 PM
Whether or not there is truth to the "tale" that wrappers the photos should be irrelevant. It is very enjoyable package. The lone rider aspect adds to the haunting loneliness of the photos. There was a lot of time and effort spent, and we were well entertained. Well done Elena!
Posted by Steve L.  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Fri Apr 28, 2006  at  10:47 PM
The story was an informative read as far as personal logs go (if you want extensive or scientific facts, are you really gonna end your search at her site? This is the net, disclaimers never work as well common sense). It moved me to find out more about Chenobyl and I couldn't care less if it had involved a motorcycle or a tourbus, fifty other people and their lunchboxes.
Posted by F. L.  in  UK  on  Tue May 09, 2006  at  04:39 AM
I somehow missed seeing this site until '07, and I noticed multiple instances of the same basic material on multiple sites. Some are very simple, others more refined. Seems to have become trollbait as the most recent entries seem to diverge from the issue at hand.

She states that she wanted to show the world Chernobyl 20 years later, and she does. Some basic layman discussion of radiation risks is subject to criticism, but she never claims to be technically proficient.

The fiction of the motorcyle ride through the area appears to be only partly fictional as she does seem to enjoy riding and has ridden around Ukraine, taking pictures. The fact that she romanticized some parts of the travelogue, serves as far as I am concerned as a cautionary tale about telling of the truth. If you fictionalize any parts of it, your loss of credibility seems to afflict the whole--be forewarned.

While I am happy to learn the truth of how the "tour" was conducted, I am still glad that I could see the pictures and read the descriptions sitting here at my desk, which I couldn't have done without her having done the work of constructing the website.

A little photo journalism helps to get some perspective about the magnitude of the disaster there, and some of the risks of fission power plants; something that we can all ponder as nuclear power seems destined to come to a site near you...
Posted by ElectroSquirrel  in  Southern California, USA  on  Thu Mar 01, 2007  at  10:38 PM
i think it says has or somthin
Posted by tamika  in  papakura  on  Thu Mar 27, 2008  at  08:17 PM
Both sides of this argument are hearsay. "Certain tourguides said this!" "Certain coffee table books said that!" "I happen to have date-raped Elena's cousin's dentist, and HE said--"

In this day and age, nobody's right about anyone until they CITE ACTUAL SOURCES. The lot of you are equally as trustworthy as Elena until someone has something verifiable.
Posted by Tev  in  US  on  Mon Apr 21, 2008  at  04:39 PM
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