The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
I just learned that Tech TV chose the Museum of Hoaxes as their Site of the Nite last night. And next week US News & World Report will be coming out with a special double issue about hoaxes, for which I was interviewed. So the Museum of Hoaxes should (hopefully) be getting a plug somewhere in there as well. I just hope people who visit the site now will still remember it fondly when my book comes out in November. Fondly enough to maybe buy the book.
Bush to Hold Sham Economic Forum. At least, so claims the Democratic National Committee. I find it amusing when politicians start accusing each other of shams and staging events, since modern politics has become all about manipulating appearances and posing for photo ops anyway. Though in this case I'm inclined to agree with the DNC. The economic forum does appear to be what the historian Daniel Boorstin would describe as a "pseudo-event." Boorstin offered 3 criteria for identifying a pseudo-event: 1) It is not spontaneous; 2) Its success is measured by how widely it is reported; 3) Its relation to the underlying reality of the situation is ambiguous. This checklist comes from Boorstin's book THE IMAGE: A GUIDE…
Someone wrote in with some new info about the Asian Prince website, which I have listed in my Hoax Websites Gallery. I stated that I wasn't sure if the Asian Prince was a hoax or not, but this reader reveals that the Prince's name "Wo-Hen Nankan" means "I am very ugly" in Mandarin. A clue that the site really is a hoax.
|Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2002||Comments (2)|
Interesting story in the Toronto Star about a man who was practicing medicine with fake credentials. But he didn't receive a single complaint about his practice. He was only exposed when the Ontario College of Physicians did a thorough check of the credentials of all medical practitioners in the area. It recalls the case of the Great Imposter, Ferdinand Waldo Demara, who once posed as a naval surgeon named Dr. Joseph Cyr and actually performed a lung operation on an injured soldier, even though he had never had a day of surgical training in his life. The operation was a success. He was only discovered to be a fake because someone recognized his picture when it appeared in…
|Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2002||Comments (1)|
I went to the Del Mar racetrack this weekend. My betting strategy, as always, was to bet on horses whose names appealed to me in some way. So I bet on 'Professor Higgins' because it sounded like a character out of a '60s sci-fi movie, and then on 'Tricks Her' because it sounded like Trickster, and thus had a connection with hoaxes. Both horses won. Unfortunately, every other horse I bet on lost, leaving me down $20 for the day.
|Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2002||Comments (1)|
The Christian Science Monitor offers a brief history of the Crop Circle phenomenon, while also noting that SIGNS grossed $60 million in its first weekend at the box office.
|Posted: Mon Aug 12, 2002||Comments (0)|
Another case of a hoax photo. The KeySpan Corp. ran an ad showing some Long Island fishermen in order to show its deep ties with the Long Island community. The only problem was that the picture of the fishermen was actually taken in Seattle, which was obvious since they were holding up King Salmon, which aren't found around Long Island.
|Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2002||Comments (0)|
The Guardian reviews a new book about the South Sea Bubble of the 1720s, titled A Very English Deceit by Malcolm Balen. It seems pretty timely, given all the financial scandals of today. Apparently all the Enrons and Worldcoms don't even compare to the South Sea Bubble when it comes to truly world-class fraud on a grand scale.
|Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2002||Comments (0)|
Interesting piece by Neal Gabler in the NY Times about the American love for the fake over the real, as applied to the entertainment industry. Gabler argues that at the movies and on tv we now experience only the 'illusion of entertainment,' as opposed to entertainment itself. He argues that the audience itself is to blame for this, basically because they're lazy. The 'illusion of entertainment' frees them from the burden of having to be emotionally engaged with whatever is on the screen. Entertainment becomes something like junk food for the brain, instead of being healthy. Of course, critics have been making this same accusation about the shallowness of popular forms of entertainment for hundreds of years. What I…
|Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2002||Comments (0)|
A strange case of a prank gone awry. Two men rushed onto the field during a rugby match wearing nothing but the logo of Vodafone, a mobile phone company. The logo was painted on their backs. Amazingly, Vodafone had actually approved the stunt. The presence of the streakers caused one of the players to miss a penalty kick. On the subject of odd forms of 'guerrilla marketing,' here's a website that claims it will connect you with corporations who are willing to pay you to wear a tattoo of their corporate logo. They're called tADoos. It's a hoax, of course. But it's not original. NPR presented this exact scenario as an April Fool's Day joke back in 1994.
|Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2002||Comments (0)|
The "Crying Indian" was a fake! The guy who starred in all those "Keep America Beautiful" ads during the 1970s turns out not to have had a single drop of Native American blood in him, despite his claims to the contrary. He was actually an Italian-American named Oscar DeCorti.
|Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2002||Comments (6)|
Anti-gravity technology has been getting a lot of attention lately, on the heels of the news that Boeing is testing some kind of anti-gravity device. Salon reviews THE HUNT FOR ZERO POINT by Nick Cook, an editor at Jane's Defense Weekly. It's all about the US Government's classified research into anti-gravity technology. Sounds interesting, but it also sounds like the author got seduced by the idea that such technology might exist and began making some pretty far-fetched assumptions.
|Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2002||Comments (0)|
A reader sent in this hoax website, though it actually seems more like a scam website than a hoax website. It's GetPaidDriving.com. For just $24.95 they'll let you access their database of companies that will pay you to drive your own car. This brings up memories of the Freewheelz hoax. I think people would be well advised to save their money and not shell out any money for info on how to 'Get Paid Driving.'
|Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2002||Comments (4)|
Article in SFGate.com about crop circles briefly mention's Joe Nickell's list of the Top 10 paranormal hoaxes.
|Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2002||Comments (0)|