Hoaxes of 2014
- Is this a picture of the Grey Lady Ghost of Dudley Castle? [Birmingham Mail]
- Sondra Arquiett had agreed to help with a drug investigation as part of a sentencing deal, but didn't realize this help would include the DEA's use of her pictures to create a fake Facebook page. Now she's suing them. [BBC News]
- Reports of an armed clown chasing students at Golden Valley High School are a hoax, says the principal. [Bakersfield Californian]
- David LaVera's particular con is that he claims he was an actor in the Twilight movies. [KCCI]
- Two teenage girls from Utah now admit that their story about being kidnapped back in September was a hoax. [Fox13now.com]
- A fake blog about a blond child bride has become the most visited blog in Norway. [Smithsonian]
- New York City is sending fake Ebola patients to emergency rooms to test hospital readiness. [CBS New York]
- The contention of a $2 billion lawsuit filed recently in Chicago is that Aunt Jemima was a real person, and that Quaker Oats owes her descendants money. [takepart.com]
- Montana authorities say they're not going to prosecute Toby Bridges (who's known as an "anti-wolf extremist") with running down two wolves, because they can't find any evidence that he did, despite his claims on Facebook to have done so. [Montana Standard]
- The Twitter Death Machine. [USA Today]
A recent article by Barry Smith in the Elko Daily Free Press delves into the tall tales and hoaxes that were the hallmark of Nevada journalism in the late 19th century. Mark Twain is the best known of these Nevada journalist hoaxers. But another master of the art form was Sam Davis, creator of the apocryphal Wabuska Mangler, as well as inventor of a horse-raising horse cart. Smith explains: You may have passed through Wabuska on your way from Weeks to Weed Heights without realizing this tiny hamlet once had a feisty newspaper called the Mangler. Well, it didn’t. The Wabuska…
On September 30, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of the latest version of its operating system, Windows 10. The strange thing is that there was no Windows 9. They went straight from version 8 to 10. It's been noted that this makes real an April Fool's Day hoax published by InfoWorld in 2013, which claimed that "Microsoft skips 'too good' Windows 9, jumps to Windows 10." Microsoft hasn't explained why they really did decide to skip version 9.
After gardeners trimmed the old branches off a tree in the village of Burmakino in central Russia's Kirov Oblast last month, people noticed a pattern in the wood grain of one of the cut branches that looked like the face of Jesus. And other cut branches displayed what looked like the faces of his disciples. Now large crowds of people have begun gathering in front of the tree to pray and give thanks. [Daily Mail]
- A viral picture apparently showing a Liberian Ebola victim who had 'risen from the dead' is actually a screenshot from the film World War Z. [mirror.co.uk]
- Amy Argetsinger argues that it's time to bury the idea that Andy Kaufman faked his own death [washington post]
- Craig Silverman offers an in-depth analysis of that pumpkin spice condom hoax from a few weeks back [digg.com]
- The Great Exhibition Toilet Myths (such as that "the public toilet was invented by the plumber George Jennings, for the Great Exhibition of 1851") [Yale Books Blog]
- News article from 1909 claimed that a pen made from the headboard of EA Poe's coffin kept writing the word "Lenore" backwards [Haunted Ohio]
I added an article about the Plainfield Teachers hoax from 1941 to the archive. This is considered a classic sports hoax, in which a stockbroker, Morris Newburger, discovered that he was able to get football scores for a fake college team reported in major papers, including the New York Times, simply by calling the sports desks of the papers and reporting the score. The papers only realized what was going on when someone who knew Newburger phoned in a tip, ratting him out.
On September 30, 2014, a photo of "terrified cheerleaders" was uploaded to reddit, where it was presented as material for a "photoshop battle," in which the challenge is to creatively alter the original image. A redditor named "totalitarian_jesus" submitted an entry titled "where will you be when diarrhea strikes?" in which he made the cheerleader appear to be losing control of her bowels in mid-air, provoking expressions of horror from her teammates below. This quickly became the most highly voted entry, and it immediately inspired a prediction that the altered image would…
As part of his ongoing "Fantastically Wrong" series at Wired.com, Matt Simon investigates the ancient legend that beavers will chew off their own testicles when pursued and throw them back at their pursuer, in this way making their escape. The legend was mentioned in Aesop's Fables and popped up in various works of natural history, until it was debunked in the 17th century by Sir Thomas Browne who pointed out that the testes of beavers don't hang outside their body. They're internal. So it would be difficult to chew them off, even if the beaver wanted to.
An article headlined "Large snowstorm could slam N.J. next week" recently went viral on Facebook, gaining thousands of shares and causing many people to express concern. The post linked to an article on the site of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which was a legitimate article. But it had been written 18 months ago in March 2013. When the Star Ledger realized that people were mistaking the article for a current weather forecast, they posted an editor's note at the top of it, pointing out that it was an old article. But this made no difference, because people on Facebook were generally…
A photo supposedly showing a "Sasquatch watching a passing train" recently began doing the rounds online, after it appeared as the Photo of the Day on the website of Coast to Coast AM, where it was submitted by "Ricky B". A caption with the photo read, "Picture was taken on a cell phone from a moving train near Hayden Lake, Idaho. 8-19-2014. [The creature is enlarged in the square on the right]" However, the community of Bigfoot advocates managed to expose this as a hoax on their own, figuring out that the photo did indeed show a Sasquatch watching a train. However, it wasn't a…
For £800, you can purchase this genuine Feejee Mermaid from Pyewackett & Pecke, makers of curios, oddities, & artefacts. But UK delivery only, due to its fragility. If you buy it, you may also be able to negotiate inclusion of the "Automated Sideshow Teller" and have yourself an exhibit.
CBC Radio's satirical This is That show recently ran a segment about artist Lana Newstrom, who is supposedly making millions by selling invisible art. The show quotes Newstrom as saying, "Art is about imagination and that is what my work demands of the people interacting with it. You have to imagine a painting or sculpture is in front of you." The show's web page for the segment included a photo of art enthusiasts staring at blank walls in a gallery, apparently admiring Newstrom's paintings and sculptures. The image was actually a doctored version of a photo taken by Adriano…
Prankster Philip Bradbury tweeted Donald Trump a photo, telling him it was a photo of his parents and asking if Trump could retweet it in their memory because he was a "big inspiration" to them. Trump obliged. But it turned out the photo was actually of the English serial killers Fred and Rose West. Trump's response: "Some jerk fraudulently tweeted that his parents said I was a big inspiration to them + pls RT — out of kindness I retweeted. Maybe I'll sue." Yeah, the prank was a bit juvenile, but it's classic Trump to threaten to sue. Reminds me of April Fool's Day 1971, when the…