The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
We've seen ghosts in jars being sold on eBay, as well as ghosts in toasters. Now you have a chance to buy a ghost in a Coke can. And while you're at it, don't pass up the opportunity to bid on this videotape of a meeting with an 'interdimensional alien.' Minimum bid is only $1,300,000.
Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2004 Comments (5)

If you love beer, then this is the church for you: The Church of Beer. It really is a church. If you're ordained as one of its ministers, then you can legitimately perform wedding services. But by its own admission, it doesn't take itself that seriously. I signed up to join right away. I'm even tempted to become an official Church of Beer minister, but I'm not sure about shelling out $15 for the honor.
Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2004 Comments (3)

New Scientist has published an interview with Laura Cinti, an artist who claims that she has collaborated with an unnamed genetics lab in order to create a transgenic cactus that grows human hair. Christopher Chauvin brought this to my attention, and, like him, I'm a bit skeptical of Cinti's claims. First of all, it seems like quite a scientific achievement to get a cactus to grow human hair. Second, it seems suspicious that the lab that did the work can't be named. Third, it doesn't appear that any independent scientists have actually examined these hirsute cactuses to see if all is as she claims it is. Cinti has a website,
Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 Comments (14)

In 2001 Sony Pictures got caught promoting its movies by using glowing quotations from a non-existent movie critic named David Manning to hype them. When the non-existence of Manning was pointed out, Sony pulled the ads, but to this day it has maintained its right to have printed the quotations, claiming they were protected as free speech. Yesterday Los Angeles Justice Reuben Ortega disallowed that defense. His remarks were notable: [if the case against Sony succeeds] "no longer will people be seen lurching like mindless zombies toward the movie theatre, compelled by a puff piece. What a noble and overwhelming undertaking."
Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 Comments (0)


They're popping up all over the place in Acle: huddled under bus shelters, lined up at the bank. They're garden ornaments (gnomes, Grecian figures, etc.), and no one knows who or what is responsible for their mysterious movements. Let's hope it's not Travelocity.
Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 Comments (0)

Three years ago Robert Ligon announced that he had invented a low-fat doughnut. He stood to make millions off the invention. But a few days ago he was hauled off by the police, who simultaneously raided his warehouse and confiscated over 18,000 of his doughnuts (all of which, I'm sure, will be held as evidence... not one of them will mysteriously disappear). You see, Ligon's doughnuts weren't actually low-fat. He was simply buying normal donuts and slapping a low-fat label on them.
Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004 Comments (1)

Are you bored with mainstream religion and ready, eddy, eddy for something different? Then why not consider converting to the Church of SpongeBob Squarepants? In fact, you probably don't even have to give up your existing faith. Spongebob is quite ecumenical, in this regard. To convert all you have to do is "drop on the deck and flop like a fish." (Thanks to Alex... that's someone else named Alex, not me... for the link).
Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 Comments (5)

The advertising agency Yarnbird is trying to make a name for itself as a creator of viral content. It invents odd sites that appear to be the creations of weird, eccentric people. The hope is that the popularity of the sites will provide publicity for Yarnbird. One of its previous sites, that I've linked to before, was My Son Peter. Another site that people have been linking to recently is I can still tell your wife, Bill. It appears to be created by a woman who's mad at Bill, a married guy she had an affair with. But like I said, it's really created by Yarnbird. I guess their strategy works because people like me link to…
Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 Comments (3)

The debate about the Vinland Map continues, and Scientific American summarizes the controversy. Everyone agrees that the parchment the map was written on is medieval, but what about the ink? That's the question.
Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2004 Comments (0)

This picture is going around via email. It's not really a hoax at all. Just a joke. But since it's about Southern California, I couldn't resist sharing it. Here's the text that accompanies the email: With all the news on TV lately about the subzero weather and snow that the east coast and upstate NY areas are experiencing, we shouldn't forget that Southern California has it's share of devastating weather also. I've attached a photo illustrating the excessive damage caused to a home from a west coast storm that passed through the Los Angeles area a couple of days ago. It really makes you cherish what you…
Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2004 Comments (18)

I've long suspected that those buttons on corners that you're supposed to push to get a walk signal are a bizarre hoax. Just a facade created by city governments to let us pedestrians feel like we possess some small measure of control. Now this article (NY Times, reg. req.) largely confirms my suspicion. The article only discusses New York City, but I think the situation is the same throughout most of the country.
Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2004 Comments (33)

"While photographs may not lie, liars may photograph." Paul Vallely has written a good article on the history of photographic fraud for the Independent.
Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 Comments (1)

A few weeks ago I noted the growing popularity of buying and selling imaginary relationships on eBay. Now the concept has migrated off of eBay and became the basis for a new company: ImaginaryGirlfriends.com. As the site explains: You can soon receive personalized love letters by mail, e-mail, photos, special gifts, even phone messages or online chat from your new Imaginary Girlfriend. We won't tell anyone that it's not real!. Okay, but what about the imaginary boyfriends?
Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 Comments (6)

It seems like whenever I turn on the SciFi channel, there's John Edward talking to the dead. I don't really care if he actually can talk to the dead or not (I assume he can't). I'm more concerned by the fact that his show is boring. But on the start of his Australian tour, a man has sued him, claiming that Edward's show violates the Trade Practices Act which stipulates that suppliers of goods can't make claims that they can't substantiate. In this case, Edward claims he can talk to the dead, but the guy suing him is pretty sure he can't. It'll be interesting to see how the case is…
Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 Comments (91)

In 2002 the upscale British department store Harrods issued a press release on April 1 announcing plans to 'float' the company. At first it indicated that this would involve a "first-come, first-served share option". Later it revised this to indicate that it was not planning to float shares on the stock exchange. Instead, it was planning to create a floating version of the store on the river Thames. It was just an April Fool's Day joke, but the Wall Street Journal fell for it. In retaliation, four days later the WSJ ran a story asking whether Harrods was the British Enron and suggesting that "investors would be wise to question its every disclosure." Now Harrods is suing the WSJ in…
Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 Comments (1)

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