The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
The latest fake news article masquerading as authentic report involves a giant squid — grown to mutant size because of Fukushima radiation — supposedly washed ashore near Santa Monica. The photo of the giant squid is circulating with hashtags such as #RadioactiveGigantism and #GiantSeaCreature. The story comes from a site called The Lightly Braised Turnip. I suppose that name is supposed to tip you off that the site is like The Onion, or aspires to be. But it's not The Onion. It's a lightly braised turnip instead. A few months ago a giant squid really did wash ashore in Spain, and the folks at…
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 Comments (0)

Huffington PostMichigan resident Anthony Padilla thinks that Bigfoot has been wandering around his property and eating his food. Specifically, his pizza. And after Bigfoot eats the pizza, he poops. Padilla has collected the scat and he wants the police to test it for DNA. The police have demurred. Padilla is apparently staking his claim to a $10 million prize being offered by Spike TV for coming up with "irrefutable proof" of the existence of Bigfoot. Actually, it's not clear to me whether Spike TV is offering the prize to anyone, or only to the group of competitors on its forthcoming "10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty" TV show. If it's the latter, Padilla…
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 Comments (2)

Sort This Out Cellars has announced the imminent return of its Cardiff Giant Wine, which it describes as "one of our most popular wines ever." I've come across quite a few hoax-themed beers (Bigfoot Ale, Nessie's Monster Mash, Jackalope Ale, etc.), but not many hoax-themed wines. I always assumed that wine marketers thought that hoaxes were too low-brow to appeal to the sophisticated tastes of wine drinkers. The illustration of the Cardiff Giant on the wine label comes from a poster created by the sideshow banner artist Fred G. Johnson in the 1930s or 40s. But I'm not sure Sort This Out Cellars realizes this, because the…
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 Comments (1)

The internet seems to believe this is a "long exposure photo of a lightning bolt hitting a tree." It's not. Well, it is a long exposure shot, but not of lightning. It's a photo created by "light painter" Darren Pearson (aka Darius Twin). Wikipedia defines light painting as "a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera." Pearson light painted the blue flames at the base of the tree. He then cut-and-pasted the lightning bolt itself into the photo from a NOAA image of a lightning strike (below).
Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 Comments (4)


A Vodafone commercial featuring talking puppets has been the subject of some strange rumors in Egypt. The buzz is that the commercial is full of coded messages telling Islamist terrorists to bomb churches. You see, the commercial opens and closes with a shot of a four-branched cactus from which hangs a single Christmas ornament. The four branches, so the rumors suggest, represent the four-fingered salute of the Muslim brotherhood. The cactus itself represents bitterness and resistance. And the ornament is a bomb. The bulk of the commercial consists of a puppet, Mother Abla Fahita, talking on the phone to an unseen friend, whom she calls Mama Tutu. Obviously this friend…
Posted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 Comments (0)

The 'kidney thieves' urban legend has resurfaced in Nigeria, as evidenced by the story below which is circulating on Nigerian news sites (such as here and here). This version of the tale has a slight twist. After having his kidney removed, the victim doesn't realize what's happened until weeks later. He doesn't even realize he's been cut open, because the closure of the incision was "perfectly done and skin was used to cover up the stitch." Pathetic Story Of A Nigerian Whose Kidney Was Stolen In Malaysia [MUST READ] We saw this story and we thought it wise to share it. It's touching and shocking and we…
Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 Comments (0)

To almost nobody's surprise, that crop circle near Salinas has been revealed to be a marketing stunt. It was created in order to promote a new mobile processor by NVIDIA. The CEO of NVIDIA admitted to the stunt during a presentation in Las Vegas. There were some clues. Small dots inside the circle spelled out the number 192, in braille. Also, three large dots on the outer perimeter of the circle were positioned at the clock-hand positions of 1, 9, and 2. The number 192 was a reference to the number of cores in the company's new processor. This isn't the first time a company has…
Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 Comments (0)

A new scam targeting the elderly in Italy. Well-dressed young women knock on the door and identify themselves as health department officials. They tell the elderly resident that banknotes have been contaminated with a deadly virus. They ask, "Do you have any banknotes in the house? If so, give them to us, and we will decontaminate them." One elderly woman handed the scammers over $2300. [ninemsn.com.au]
Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 Comments (0)

Dan's Papers, which serves the Hamptons in New York, recently reported that lions were going to be released in order to cull the growing deer population in the region. The lions would be supplied, free of charge, by a wealthy South African industrialist who had recently bought a home there. The report disturbed some of the locals. According to southampton.patch.com: "[The police] fielded anywhere between 10 and 15 calls from residents voicing their anger at the 'news,' and at least one caller claimed to have seen a lion stalking her back yard." The report was actually the latest effort from Dan Rattiner, the "hoaxer of the…
Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 Comments (2)

According to legend, the sport of haggis hurling originated in the seventeenth century when the women of Auchnaclory tossed meals of haggis across the River Dromach for their husbands, who would catch it in their kilts. However, the sport eventually lapsed into obscurity. A well-formed haggis. [Source: Euan (Flickr)} But in 1977, at the International Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh, haggis hurling was brought back as a featured event. The sport was given formalized rules. Competitors had to rub peat on their hands and hurl the haggis while standing on top of a half-barrel of Scotch whisky. The competition was overseen by three officials:…
Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 Comments (1)

Why do people go to the Florida Keys to fake their death? Because of the water: "all the water — the ocean, the channels, the bay — all plausible places for a body never to be found." Florida Keys have been a place for many to stage their own deaths from The Miami Herald Some people come to the Florida Keys to dive the coral reefs or fish for tarpon. Others come to party in Key West. And then there are a desperate few who come to the subtropical island chain for a more sinister activity: faking their own deaths. "We've had so many over the years," Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay…
Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 Comments (0)

A story posted recently on the fake-news site DailyCurrant.com alleged that hospitals in Colorado were being overwhelmed by people suffering from marijuana poisoning. There were 37 people dead already! The article quoted a Dr. Jack Shepard of St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver as saying, "It's complete chaos here. I've put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute." Enough people believed this story that St. Luke's Medical Center (which is a real hospital) felt compelled to issue a statement denying the report: The name Dr. Jack Shepard is an allusion to the…
Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 Comments (2)

NBC News A report is circulating, sourced to "a newspaper with close ties to China's ruling Communist Party" (according to NBC), alleging that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, eaten alive last month by a pack of 120 ravenous dogs. Gruesome stuff, if true. But Max Fisher of the Washington Post cautions that there are good reasons to doubt this story. The report comes from a small Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po, which has a reputation for sensationalism. Somehow it got this incredible scoop just a day after the execution. No one else reported it, and Wen Wei Po…
Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 Comments (1)

As 2013 ended and 2014 began, this photo started circulating online, along with the claim that it showed a satellite's view of the fireworks over Europe at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But no, that's not what this photo shows. For a start, Europe isn't all in the same time zone, so the fireworks didn't go off all at the same moment. Second, fireworks wouldn't have created such intense illumination. The image was actually created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and shows changes in illumination from 1993-2003. Sciencephoto.com offers this explanation: Lights are colour-coded. Red lights appeared during…
Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2014 Comments (0)

This is one of those fake viral images that you'd think everyone would recognize immediately to be a joke. And yet, quite a few people seem to take it seriously, such as the people on this reddit thread where it was recently posted. The woman is the Swedish actress, singer, and glamour model Natacha Peyre. The guy next to her remains unidentified. He's probably just a fan that she agreed to pose for a photo with. According to reports, Peyre has been dating Swedish pop singer Dhani Lennevald for a number of years, and he's not the guy in the photo, nor is he a $181 million lottery winner.
Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 Comments (1)

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.