The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
The Cradle of the Deep, a literary hoax, 1929
The Case of the Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
Fake Fish Photos
Vilcabamba, the town of very old people, 1978
war of the worlds
The night Martians invaded New Jersey, 1938
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
Rachael Ray cooks her family and her dog
Remembering The Plumber From Plympton
Status: Marking an anniversary in hoax history
The million little biographical lies of James Frey have been getting all the attention in the press this week, but as the Devon Western Morning News reminds us, this month marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of a memoir whose lies were far greater: The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa (aka the Plumber from Plympton). Rampa claimed to have grown up in Tibet (born into a wealthy Tibetan family), to have studied in Lhasa to become a lama, and then to have undergone a mysterious operation to open up the "third eye" in the middle of his forehead. This operation supposedly gave him psychic powers. But in reality, Rampa wasn't a Tibetan monk. He was actually Cyril Henry Hoskins, son of a plumber from Plympton, England. He hadn't even been to Tibet. As the Western Morning News puts it:

it is probable that his globetrotting was mostly restricted to commuting from his home in Plympton to Wadebridge, where he was born and later worked as a clerk and occasional fisherman.

When confronted with the facts about his past, Rampa admitted he had been born Hoskins, but explained that his body had been taken over by Rampa's spirit. Skeptics might say that Rampa/Hoskins was full of it. But happily, thanks to Oprah Winfrey, we now know that it doesn't matter if a memoirist lies about their past, as long as their "underlying message of redemption" is inspiring to readers. By this new standard, I think Rampa just might be off the hook.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 13, 2006
Comments (5)
Cool! I'm going to write an autobiography that's entirely made up and make millions!
Posted by Oberon  in  Utah  on  Fri Jan 13, 2006  at  03:10 AM
Hey, I already did!

Actually, I just made that up!

(Welll... it seemed funny at the time... don't hit me!) wink
Posted by Captain DaFt  on  Fri Jan 13, 2006  at  06:34 AM
Rampa, or Ramtha? You decide.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Fri Jan 13, 2006  at  01:01 PM
Oberon in Utah said:

"Cool! I'm going to write an autobiography that's entirely made up and make millions!"

And you can name it A Million More Small Pieces.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Jan 15, 2006  at  03:56 AM
Oh, God...I looked the book up on Wikipedia and found this:http://www.tlrampa.com/Forum/index.php
It's a forum dedicated to him. There's still people who believe the book is real....52 on the forum so far.
Posted by RPGLand, formerly Ozymandias  in  Madison, Wisconsin  on  Mon Jan 16, 2006  at  06:53 PM
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