The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Matthew Richardson, a 23-year-old student at St. Peters College in Britain, was asked to travel to Beijing to deliver a series of lectures about economic theory. He was flattered by the invitation, though puzzled since he knew nothing about economics. But undaunted, he packed an economics textbook in his bag and took off to Beijing. It was only after he got there that he figured out that the people in Beijing had probably intended to invite Prof. Matthew Richardson from New York University, who's an expert on financial markets. But the faux Richardson bravely soldiered on, reading from his textbook, and no one seemed to notice that he didn't have a clue what he was talking about. In fact,…
Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 Comments (0)

This is a pretty amazing picture, and it screams 'Photoshop!' After all, where in the world would planes really land that close to sunbathers on a beach? It looks like the plane is landing right on top of them. Well, the place is Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten. And the airplanes really do come in that close to the beach. A collection of shots of planes landing at Princess Juliana is circulating as a powerpoint file via email. Jozee V sent the file along to me (Thanks, Jozee!). At first I couldn't believe that the shots were real, but after a little research I was convinced. The thumbnail shot…
Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 Comments (97)

I don't know what it is about oversized domestic cats that's so endlessly fascinating, but I've got to admit that, as the owner of a rather corpulent kitty, I'm just as intrigued by this subject as everyone else seems to be. So anyway, first there was Snowball. Then along came Munchkin. And now the latest tubby tabby to do the email rounds is Scrappy, the Super-Sized Cat. This email comes with the subject line: Why you shouldn't feed your cat table scraps. I don't know if it's real or not, but at the risk of putting my reputation as a hoax expert on the line, it kind of…
Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 Comments (32)

In yet another eBay hoax, Utah's Sun Tunnels were offered for sale a few days ago. In case you haven't heard of them, the Sun Tunnels are a series of large concrete tubes sitting out in the Utah desert. They were designed by the artist Nancy Holt back in the '70s. Unfortunately, the person offering them for sale didn't own them. But that's okay, because no one bid on them anyway, which is a little sad considering that they're pretty cool and were offered for a bargain-basement price. The real owner is the artist Nancy Holt herself.
Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 Comments (0)


The bidding on eBay for the phone number 867-5309 (from the Tommy Tutone song) appears to have reached over $200,000. I suspect a few hoax bids are being placed.
Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 Comments (0)

Now that photo of Kerry with Jane Fonda that I talked about in the previous post may have been fake, but this new photo that has just surfaced is undoubtedly real. (via Eschaton)
Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 Comments (3)

A doctored photo of John Kerry speaking with Jane Fonda (aka 'Hanoi Jane') at a 1971 anti-war rally has been making the rounds lately and getting a lot of attention. It was almost immediately debunked as a phony. As this Newsday article describes, the original photo was taken by Ken Light. The doctored version of it began popping up in conservative chat rooms a few weeks ago. As the political campaign heats up, I expect that many more photoshopped pictures of political candidates will surface. What I found surprising was not the picture itself, but the speed at which it was…
Posted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 Comments (1)

It looks like Amazon.com is branching out into a lucrative new market: brains for zombies. They're offering celebrity brains and tasty brains in addition to the more generic brains. In reality, the site is a spin-off of goats.com, the 'tasty yet morally ambiguous' webcomic. (Thanks to Charles Martin for the link).
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 Comments (2)

I received a mysterious message informing me that "something tragic will go to happen... after the midnight of day 31 of March of 2004." Naturally I couldn't resist checking out the url that accompanied this message, and it took me to this website. It's a geocities page, so that automatically makes it credible. A brief investigation of the site then turned up this page: the past life analyser. It informed me that in my past life I was a writer, dramatist and organizer of rituals living in Egypt around the year 1150. Sounds about right. So I wonder what the terrible thing will be that's going to happen after March 31? Maybe their English translator is scheduled to…
Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 Comments (4)

A study reported on in the New Scientist has found that people lie more when they're talking on the telephone than they do when writing emails. The reason is that people are conscious of the fact that emails are saved and could come back to haunt them later, whereas telephone conversations don't tend to be recorded. Of course, this doesn't mean that more of the telephone calls we receive contain lies than the emails we receive. Just the opposite. Every day I'm flooded with emails that contain blatant lies, promising me instant riches and vast improvements in my physical prowess. This is because a small number of liars (spammers) can easily contact millions of people via email, whereas reaching…
Posted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 Comments (0)

Alan Williams, a professor at Southwestern Adventist University, received a Ph.D. from Glencullen University. For some reason, he didn't think it odd that Glencullen had no campus, no faculty, and required him to do nothing to earn the degree. In reality, Glencullen didn't even exist. Despite its Irish name and Irish-themed website, it's just a diploma mill based in Romania. Williams claims that he's shocked, shocked to learn this. For some reason, I don't know why, it's hard to believe that he's really an innocent victim.Update: Brian Kelly informed me that my link to the Glencullen University website is incorrect. The site I linked to originally is actually a spoof site…
Posted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 Comments (5)

Clonaid now claims that it has created its sixth human clone, in the form of a baby boy born in Sydney last week. Once again, no evidence of any kind was provided to back up this claim. You're just supposed to take their word for it. And come on! They seem like an extremely credible bunch, don't they?
Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 Comments (5)

When you're in the mood for something erotic, do you fantasize about "artificially-engineered transgenic tissue sculpture." If so, then the LoveLump, created by EroTech Industries (not safe for work), is just the thing for you. The LoveLump, in concept, is like a blow-up sex doll, except that it's designed from real, living tissue. Oh, and it also doesn't look anything like a sex doll. While it bears all the appropriate sex organs, it's lacking a head or limbs. It's just a lump. To keep your LoveLump alive, you have to inject it with nutrients on a regular basis. So is the LoveLump real? No. EroTech Industries is a mock biotech company created by Vancouver-based artist Christopher Moses. It won…
Posted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 Comments (0)

Any self-respecting British soccer fan will know the legendary George Best. They also know that Best enjoyed his drink. And so it should be no surprise that his liver, which was recently put up for auction on eBay, looks rather diseased and unhealthy. The seller claims that the liver was "recovered from the incinerator organ bin at London's Cromwell Hospital in July 2002." He also cautions that it's "not suitable for transplant or for serving with bacon and onion gravy." So the question is, is this really George Best's liver? I don't know. I guess only a dna test would answer that question. But it looks suspiciously like calf's liver to…
Posted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 Comments (2)

Quite a few people have received this picture in their email showing a man holding up a giant (dead) mountain lion. According to the accompanying text, the lion was shot by the man near Leon, Kansas while he was out deer hunting, though different versions of the email list different locations. Is the picture real? It is. But the accompanying text is incorrect. According to this article on Buckmasters.com, the lion was actually shot near Seattle, Washington. The picture first appeared in Fair Chase magazine, published by the Boone and Crockett Club, before it spread to email.
Posted: Fri Feb 06, 2004 Comments (1)

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