The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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)

This week I started a new job as contributing editor to Muse Magazine. It's a magazine for young teenagers (9-14 years old) about science, history, and the arts, but I don't think that description quite captures its quirky nature. It runs articles on everything from 'Weird tales of the subway' to 'Could you live forever' (which is in the current issue). Its mascot is a trickster named Kokopelli (from Native American mythology) who loves to play pranks, which might explain why they were willing to bring a 'hoax expert' like me on board. For strange bureaucratic reasons (the kind that seem to plague all companies), the magazine doesn't really have an…
Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 Comments (5)

In the tradition of the Ghost In A Jar, but not as funny or clever, we recently had a Satanic Toaster offered for sale on eBay. The toaster first began to burn the toast. Then, when the seller tried to throw it away, it mysteriously reappeared back in his kitchen. Like I said, a pale imitation of the ghost in a jar. (Submitted by Bob Pagani)
Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 Comments (2)

This is just dumb. You receive an email with the following message: Greetings, You have just received the "IRISH VIRUS". As we don't have any programming experience, this Virus works on the honour system. Please delete all the files on your hard drive manually and forward this Virus to everyone on your mailing list. Thank you for your cooperation. I think I've seen other versions of it that attribute it to other ethnicities/social groups. There's more info about it over at symantec.com. (submitted by Bob Pagani).
Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 Comments (5)

In 1936 a candidate named Boston Curtis ran for the post of Republican precinct committeeman in the town of Milton, Washington. And he won. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to the people who voted for him, Boston Curtis was a mule. His name had been placed on the ballot by the Democratic mayor Ken Simmons who guessed, correctly, that no one actually knows anything about the candidates for the lower-ranking positions. They just vote along party lines. Simmons figured it would be funny to get the Republicans to vote in a mule (which is the symbol of the Democratic party). Carrying on this tradition of involving animals in the electoral process, we now have Brenda Gould, from Newmarket,…
Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 Comments (1)

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