The Hoax Museum Blog

Sponge-Throwing Painters of the Ancient World

An ancient legend described the role of chance in art — a sponge flung in anger at a canvas accidentally produced the exact effect a painter had been striving for. The same story was told of three different painters, suggesting the tale was an urban legend. more…

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015.   Comments (1)

The Man on Page 602

Was a male model's genitalia really visible in the 1975 Sears Fall/Winter catalog? We add some new evidence to this old debate. more…

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015.   Comments (4)

Playing football as fire rages

The image shows a crowd sitting in bleachers calmly watching a football game, apparently unconcerned as a building burns to the ground behind them. The bizarre juxtaposition has led some people over the years to suspect that this image is fake — perhaps a result of darkroom photo manipulation. But in fact, the image is entirely real and was unstaged. more…

Posted: Wed May 13, 2015.   Comments (0)

Cat Gives Birth to a Chihuahua

A 74-year-old Chinese man claims that his cat has given birth to a Chihuahua. As absurd as the situation sounds, I initially suspected this wasn't a hoax (although I didn't think the young animal really was a Chihuahua). But now I'm thinking, yeah, probably a hoax. more…

Posted: Mon May 11, 2015.   Comments (3)


The Art of Fake News

I have a new book to add to my reading list of hoaxes. It's Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, by A. Brad Schwartz, in which he re-examines the 1938 Panic Broadcast by looking at the letters sent to Welles himself in the days after the broadcast. Schwartz has also posted a list over at huffpost of ten times when "fake news made real news." more…

Posted: Mon May 11, 2015.   Comments (0)

Man Catches Fur-Bearing Trout

Wisconsin-resident George Weber says he was fishing in the Menomonee River when he caught this unusual fish. He showed it to a wildlife official who first told him it was a fur-bearing trout. But then the official offered an alternative, scientific explanation. He said it could be a trout infected with an extreme case of Saprolegnia, or cotton mold, which is a fungal infection that can grow on fish and looks like white or grey fibrous patches. However, I'm not buying the Saprolegnia explanation. I think that's a genuine fur-bearing trout. [via Doubtful News]

Posted: Mon May 11, 2015.   Comments (1)

USS Los Angeles lifts navy ship into the air

A 1931 photo in the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung showing the US Navy airship "Los Angeles," blown by a gust of wind, lifting a ship into the air, was just an April Fool's Day hoax. But it was inspired by a very similar real incident. more…

Posted: Sat May 09, 2015.   Comments (0)

140-year-old Tortoise Wears Son As Hat

The Internet claims that this image shows a 140-year-old tortoise wearing her 5-day-old son as a hat. Is this true or false?

Posted: Thu May 07, 2015.   Comments (0)

‘Poo in Beards’ Goes Viral

By now the 'poo in beards' story that went viral earlier this month has been thoroughly debunked. But what people may not know is that there was a very similar media scare about germs in beards over 100 years ago, in 1912.

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015.   Comments (0)

The All-Female Clockwork Oranges Gang

Were these women members of one of the most feared of all London's street gangs in the 1880's, a group of female toughs known as the Clockwork Oranges?

Posted: Wed May 06, 2015.   Comments (2)

The Naked Office

Did a San Francisco company really boost morale by having its employees work in their birthday suits for a month? more…

Posted: Mon May 04, 2015.   Comments (1)

Nepal Quake Victims Photo

A widely shared photo has been identified as a young boy in Nepal comforting his sister following the deadly earthquake. But the photo was actually taken in Vietnam in 2007. more…

Posted: Mon May 04, 2015.   Comments (0)

Burger With a Side of Fries

Do Mr. Burger and Mr. Fries really have tombstones next to each other? more…

Posted: Sun May 03, 2015.   Comments (0)

Manhole Cover on Stairs

This image has circulated online since at least 2013, and recently it's been doing the rounds again. Often it's given the caption, "Best Manhole Cover. Ever." Is it real or photoshopped? Honestly, I'm not sure. But my best guess is that it's a 'real' photo, but that isn't a genuine, functional manhole cover. more…

Posted: Sun May 03, 2015.   Comments (2)

The Composite Princetonian

On March 27, 1940, the front page of The Daily Princetonian carried a photo that it described as the "Composite Princetonian." It said the photo had been created by analyzing the photos of 2100 Princeton students, then selecting 12 who exemplified the varieties of types on campus. The photos of these 12 were combined into a single composite photo. The next day the truth was revealed. The composite photo was actually a doctored photo of Errol Flynn, minus his mustache and given a crew haircut.

Posted: Thu Apr 30, 2015.   Comments (0)

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