The Museum of Hoaxes
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Use your left ear to detect lies
Bizarre pictographs of Emmanuel Domenech, 1860
A black lion: real or fake?
Stotham, Massachusetts: the town that didn't exist, 1920
Cursed by Allah
Female thieves hide money in their bras, 1950
Bonsai Kittens, 2000
BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Princess Caraboo, servant girl who became a princess, 1817
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
Fake soldiers guard base
To save money, a Taiwanese army base decided to use dummies in place of real soldiers to guard a base. Locals eventually noticed that the soldiers never moved, and as word spread the fake soldiers became a tourist attraction. (via Weird Asia News)

It's actually not as odd as it sounds. Ever since World War II armies have made extensive use of decoys, including fake tanks, aircraft, ships, and individual soldiers. A classic story about this phenomenon is that during WWII the Germans created an entire decoy airfield in North Africa. In response, the British sent out a single bomber who dropped a wooden bomb on it.

Categories: Military
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 29, 2008
Comments (9)
Wouldn't one notice first the rather 'odd' appearance though? Unless they were viewed from a distance....
Posted by hulitoons  in  Abingdon, Maryland  on  Tue Jul 29, 2008  at  11:51 AM
A classic story about this phenomenon is that during WWII the Germans created an entire decoy airfield in North Africa. In response, the British sent out a single bomber who dropped a wooden bomb on it.

Probably not a true story, of course ...
Posted by Brett  in  Australia  on  Tue Jul 29, 2008  at  12:28 PM
An even better idea would be to replace the WHOLE army with statues.

It seems to have worked for the old Chinese emperors.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Harlingen, Texas  on  Tue Jul 29, 2008  at  07:17 PM
I think the use of fake armaments goes further back than WWII, Alex. I seem to recall something about inflatable "tanks" being used in World War I to fool the Germans.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Jul 30, 2008  at  04:58 AM
The Novel "Beau Geste" published in 1924 has the French Foreign Legion propping up dead bodies around the fort to make it look as if there are more of them than are still alive.

Shakespeare's "Macbeth" has a similar but different tactic where the soldiers hide behind branches so that the enemy don't know how many of them there are.

In "The Sword of Welleran", by Lord Dunsany published in 1908, The City is guarded by statues of long dead heroes who intimidate the local tribes out of invasion because they think that they are living warriors.

I'm sure that there are plenty more examples from fact and fiction going back through time. I bet that someone will be able to quote a Roman or Greek event with a similar decoy use.
Posted by Robert N  in  Croydon, UK  on  Wed Jul 30, 2008  at  05:27 AM
I live near to a field which was made into a dummy airstrip in WW2 - really just a field with two rows of lights along it. It was built to lure the Germans away from a number of nearby RAF bases. I have read this in reputable history books so guess it is true.
Posted by Vikki  in  Peterborough, UK  on  Wed Jul 30, 2008  at  06:22 AM
Shame on you, Alex! You should do your homework before posting something like that!
Posted by PiltdownHacker  in  Uckfield, East Success, UK  on  Wed Jul 30, 2008  at  12:12 PM
Yup, this sort of thing has a long, long history. Sometimes it's even done officially, rather than just somebody on guard duty setting up a mannequin and then sneaking off for a nice hot cup of coffee. wink

Let's see. . .the earliest similar thing I can think of is when Hannibal (of Carthage, not Lecter) used cows to trick the Romans into thinking that they had extra cavalry.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Jul 30, 2008  at  02:47 PM
The Allies created an entire dummy army in 1944 in Britain in an attempt to fool Hitler into thinking that Normandy was just a diversion, & the real attack was to come in the Pas de Calais. As we know this subterfuge was successful.
Posted by Dale irwin  in  Waiheke Island, New Zealand  on  Tue Aug 26, 2008  at  07:56 AM
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