The Museum of Hoaxes
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Brief History of Triple-Decker Buses
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
The Cradle of the Deep, a literary hoax, 1929
Did Paul McCartney die on Nov. 9, 1966?
Loch Ness Monster Hoaxes
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
The Cottingley Fairies, 1917
Fake Photos of Very Large Animals
Did Poe say 'The best things in life make you sweaty'?
World-Record Hoaxes
I received this email from Alanna Fraser:

I am a development producer working at KEO Films in London. I'm looking into the possibility of doing a documentary/series on people who have faked world records/cheated/hood-winked people (either Guinness World Records or others). I came across your website when I was looking for info on this subject on the internet, and wondered whether you might be able to help me out with any advice or suggestions? I'd really appreciate any help that you could give me.

I can think of a lot of sports hoaxes (such as Rosie Ruiz), but no world-record hoaxes are coming to mind except for the Cook-Peary controversy over who reached the North Pole first (and the likelihood that neither of them ever reached it). Can anyone else think of some world-record hoaxes?
Categories: Sports
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 09, 2006
Comments (22)
This hoax story borders on both the sport and world record categories.

In 1968 the British newspaper, Sunday Times, decided to hold a solo round-the-world sailboat race. The idea was to do it without stopping in any port along the way. The winner (if anyone finished) would hold the distiction of being the first person in history to sail around the world non-stop.

A round-the-world race starting in Britain means competitors sail south through the Atlantic then eastwards around the tip of Africa, Australia, South America before turning north again in the Atlantic back to Britain.

One competitor, Donald Crowhurst, started late and experienced a lot of problems with his new unproven boat. At some point he decided he had no hope of winning and thought he could fool everyone by giving false radio reports of his progress. By sailing in circles in the South Atlantic Ocean he would wait until the right time to head north to England before the other competitors and claim the prize.

Crowhurst had many months to contemplate his actions and it eventually caused a serious mental breakdown. A passing freighter came across his boat drifting in the Atlantic with no one aboard. He apparently commited suicide by jumping overboard.

Here is a good summary of the story:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Crowhurst
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  02:11 PM
Donald Crowhurst. Of course.

That also reminds me of Josef Papp, inventor of the world's fastest submarine.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  02:45 PM
The world record muskellunge has been called a fake. It was caught by Louis Spray in 1949. It has been challenged based upon photos of the fish. I also think that the challenge was dismissed.
Posted by Daniel  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  02:50 PM
Would that be Chin-whiskered Charlie you're referring to, Daniel?

Other world-record hoaxes that I've found (after doing a search of the site, which I should have done right away) are:

Vilcabamba, the village in Ecuador whose inhabitants claimed they were the longest-lived in the world. Turned out to be a hoax to promote tourism.

The record for the largest snowflake is mighty suspicious.

A Lebanese woman claims to be the world's oldest woman, but maybe she is.

Diane Sleeman claims to have the oldest cat in the world. There's no easy way to tell whether she does or not.

A couple of people have claimed to be the first to engineer a human clone.

Various men have claimed to be the first men to get pregnant.

After the birth of the Dionne quintuplets in the 1930s, there were a lot of multiple birth hoaxes: people claiming to have been pregnant with the most babies.

Then there's that guy who claims to hold the world record for penile weight lifting.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  05:39 PM
Yup, thats the one. Our local newspaper ran an article about it (I live in muskie country). A quick net search reveals all kinds of fish fraud. (pun intended)
Posted by Daniel  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  06:09 PM
Two more that occurred to me:

P.T. Barnum claimed that Joice Heth was, at 161 years old, the world's oldest woman.

And Edgar Allan Poe invented a hoax about the world's first transatlantic crossing in a hot-air balloon.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  06:11 PM
Just about every town I've ever been to (and I've been to a lot of towns) claims to have the biggest, tallest, shortest, smallest, oldest, first, etc., of something or other.

While only a few of these claims would qualify as outright hoaxes, most of them are awfully short on evidence.

The town in Texas (I don't recall the name) that claims to have had powered flight before the Wright Brothers comes to mind. This (along with some other highly dubious local history claims) is mentioned in the book "Lies Across America."

I've seen about 4 different places that claim they invented the hamburger, and at least 2 claiming to have made the first hot dogs.
Posted by Big Gary, late for feeding time  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Thu Feb 09, 2006  at  06:13 PM
There's that Russian guy who claims to be the tallest man in the world, but won't let anyone measure him.
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  03:01 AM
And of course Rosie Ruiz, who cheated in the Boston marathon in 1980. Her time would have been a world record at the time, if I recall correctly.
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  03:07 AM
Doh, didn't see that you'd already mentioned Ruiz!
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  03:08 AM
Another false world's-first-claim...

When the remarkable Alfred Lawson presented his "Lawson Airliner", he claimed it to be the "World
Posted by Henri  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  05:15 AM
"I am a development producer working at KEO Films in London. I'm looking into the possibility of doing a documentary/series on people who have faked world records/cheated/hood-winked people (either Guinness World Records or others)."

It's hard to tell from that syntax whether she's ONLY looking for people who have faked world records or if that's just one of the things she's looking into. Do you know for sure, Alex?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  05:56 AM
Cranky, this is no place to pick up girls, ok? grin
Posted by Gutza  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  06:26 AM
Speaking of Rosie Ruiz, the Game Show Network had a two hour special last month about her faked marathon win. It included her (they claimed) first interview on the story in the 20 plus years since it happened. Amazingly, she STILL says she ran the entire race!! She also claims she didn't cheat in New York. And she still has her Boston Marathon winners medal. She refused to give it back after being stripped of the win, so they had to make a new one to give the woman they declared the real winner.
The show also mentioned that a few years after the race, Rosie was convicted of embezzling from her workplace. Hardly helps her credibility.
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  in  Sorrento, LA  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  11:16 AM
"There's that Russian guy who claims to be the tallest man in the world, but won't let anyone measure him."

Then there's me. I'm the world's shortest giant, and I'm also the world's tallest dwarf. You can measure me any time you want.
Posted by Big Gary, late for feeding time  in  Dallas, Texas, USA  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  01:45 PM
Cranky, I told her I would be posting her question here, so maybe she can respond herself. Alanna, are you out there?
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  01:54 PM
Not only did they make a new medal for the actual winner of the Boston Marathon that year (Jacqueling Gareau), but the new medal was the same size as the men's winner's medal, rather than small like the one Ruiz stole.
Posted by Ledasmom  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  03:50 PM
Gutza said:

"Cranky, this is no place to pick up girls, ok? "

Funny, my wife said the same thing.



BTW, thanks, Alex. From the way she worded the question, it's hard to figure out if she's ONLY looking for world-record hoaxes.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Feb 10, 2006  at  07:56 PM
every pyramid sceme was and is a hoax. Some of them have been very very large. Ponzi, for example.

pepe
Posted by pepe nero  on  Sun Feb 12, 2006  at  01:21 PM
Ffyona Campbell, the first person to walk around the world, later admitted that during the USA part of the trip she had accepted lifts from her support team after slowing down due to becoming pregnant. Later requested to be removed from the Guiness Book of Records.
Posted by Howard  on  Tue Feb 14, 2006  at  12:25 PM
Hi all,

Thanks v. much for all your replies - there's definitely a lot of food for thought for me. To clear up the confusion over whether I'm looking exclusively for world record hoaxes or something broader, I think the answer is yes, I need stories that have a 'record' of some description attached to them. Of course, that can be a pretty loose term: stories such as the South Korean professor who allegedly faked claims of cloning human embryos is a good - and very current - example.

Hope this helps and thanks once again - I'm really grateful for your guidance.

Alanna Fraser
Posted by Alanna Fraser  on  Wed Feb 15, 2006  at  05:36 AM
I remember hearing about a hoax on the Plainfield Teachers. I beleive it was a ball team that kept on winning,it was started by a wise sports announcer,I think.Can any one help me please
Posted by James A.Smith  in  Wytheville,Va  on  Thu Feb 16, 2006  at  04:39 PM
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