The Hoax Museum Blog

BBC Ducks the Issue — I just heard about this early April Fool's Day fumble on the part of the BBC. As the Times of London reports: "Declan Curry, the intrepid television hack, broke the embargo on a fascinating British Waterways study that revealed that ducks living on canals weigh, on average, about a pound more than those living on rivers. The slow-moving canal water, so the story went, provides less opportunity for the ducks to swim and as a result they piled on the pounds. Mr Curry and the BBC should…
Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004.   Comments (2)

WiFi - SM — Are you guilty about living a life of comfort while others around the world suffer? Do you want to 'feel their pain'? Now you can, thanks to the WiFi-SM. This is a wireless device that "automatically detects the information from approximately 4,500 news sources worldwide updated continuously and analyses them looking for specific keywords such as death, kill, murder, torture, rape, war, virus etc.. Each time the text of the news contains one of these keywords, your WiFi-SM device is…
Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004.   Comments (1)

Christian Science Monitor: Historic Hoaxes — If it weren't for the inconvenient fact that no one has a clue who I am, I'd almost feel famous, because I was interviewed not only by Wired, but also by the Christian Science Monitor, for this article. My mother always says that she could have had a son who was a doctor or a lawyer, but instead she gets a son who's a hoax expert. Well, it may not pay much, but at least I get interviewed a lot once a year, every April 1st.
Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004.   Comments (1)

Wired = Overloaded Server — Wired published an article about net hoaxes today, for which I was interviewed. The increased traffic it brought promptly melted down my web host's servers, which has been causing quite a headache for me. But regardless, it's nice to get the visitors. Perhaps a few of them were even able to view some of the site's content.
Posted: Wed Mar 31, 2004.   Comments (1)


Fake Vermeer was the Real Thing — Once thought to be a fake Vermeer, this painting of a young woman sitting before a keyboard has now been officially reclassified as a real Vermeer. It's going up for sale (the first time a Vermeer has been sold since 1921), so if you've got a couple of million lying around, feel free to make a bid.
Posted: Wed Mar 31, 2004.   Comments (0)

Restaurant Strip-Search Hoax — According to the Wall Street Journal a strange prank is becoming a real problem for restaurants throughout America. A phone prankster calls up a restaurant, pretending to a police officer, and asks the manager of the restaurant to strip search the store's employees. The reason given is usually that the police are searching for stolen money or drugs. And time after time the store managers comply with the request. I've seen cases of this prank reported in the news before, and I assumed…
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (2)

More Spam on April 1st — Makers of network security software are warning that there may be an increase in spam leading up to April Fool's Day. "Spammers are expected to use subject lines such as "great joke," "free jokes," "prank," or "April fools" to entice users into opening attachments that carry viruses or objectionable content, potentially putting company networks at risk."
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (0)

April Fool’s Day Survey — Survey finds that two-in-ten workers participate in April Fool's Day at the office. The best part of the article are the examples of office pranks it lists: moving someone's office to the front lobby, telling colleagues they can leave early, super-glueing drawers shut, etc. One of the best office pranks that I've heard about occurred at a small company and was played on the human resources manager. One after another every employee went into her office and told her that they were…
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (1)

The Mini Cooper Autonomous Robot — Colin Mayhew, an engineer at a British division of BMW, decided to convert a mini cooper r50 into an autonomous biped robot. The results are quite impressive. In particular, check out this video. The no-frills design of the page makes it seem quite believable. But sleuths on Slashdot have determined that it's a hoax. The url is registered to an ad agency working for BMW. (via Things Magazine)
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (80)

You Make Me Feel Like Gancing — A recent issue of Stuff Magazine described the latest dance craze hitting the clubs: Gancing. That's short for guy-on-guy dancing. Not gay dancing, mind you. This is heterosexual (or metrosexual) guy-on-guy dancing. The theory is that this is actually a great strategy for picking up women, since the women are turned on by the sensitivity of the dancing men. There are various 'gances,' such as the Shark, in which one guy pretends he's a shark and chases another guy around the dance…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (0)

Fake pregnancy — Maya-Anne Mays was living the good life. She had a couple paying her rent, buying her meals, and giving her money. Why? Because the couple thought she was pregnant, and they were going to adopt her baby. But it turned out Mays wasn't pregnant... just overweight. She had managed to pass a pregnancy test by taking the test soon after having a miscarriage. The couple finally wised up and forced her to take another test, which she failed.
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Belle de Jour Commentary — The Guardian invited Cynthia Payne, "Britain's best-known madam," to comment on the Belle de Jour weblog, i.e. did she think it's really written by a London call girl, or is it all the product of some writer's imagination. Payne declares that it's "a load of rubbish."
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (2)

Yo, God! — P.T. Barnum once suggested that someone should invent a humbugometer, which would be a device to detect the presence of humbug. But the folks at Yo, God! have done Barnum one better. They've invented a God Detector, to detect the presence of God. For example, say that you beseech God for a sign, and at that moment the phone rings. Is that really a sign from God, or is it just a coincidence? Whip out your Yo, God! detector, and you'll have the answer.
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Dragon Hoax Was a Hoax — Back in January I posted an entry about what I called the Almost Great Dragon Hoax. It described a tiny dragon that had been found in a jar of formaldehyde in a garage in Oxfordshire. Supposedly the dragon had been created in the nineteenth century by German scientists trying to hoax their British counterparts, but the joke had been spotted by the British and placed in the trash... only to be recovered from there and end up years later in the Oxfordshire garage. Now it turns out that…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Glass and Blair: Together At Last — Christopher Frizzelle of The Stranger managed to get a real scoop. He convinced both Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass to sit down and talk with him simultaneously, so that they could compare notes on their careers as rogue journalists. Unfortunately, this dream interview never occurred. The Stranger later published a tongue-in-cheek retraction. And Stephen Glass himself denied that the interview took place. Still, Karl Freske (whom I have to thank for providing me with a heads-up about…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (0)

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