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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
My Lips Are For Blowing
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 07, 2014
It seems pretty obvious, if you think about it, that the album "My Lips Are For Blowing" by Svetlana Gruebbersolvik cannot be a real album. After all, even if you assume that the name of this album might have been an awkward translation from a Russian original, why would Tamla records (aka Motown) have put out an album of a Russian recorder player? Nevertheless, the image of this album cover has circulated widely, and a lot of people seem to be under the impression that it's an actual album. For instance, it recently popped up on the "History in Pictures" twitter feed, with no indication given that…
Categories: Photos/Videos Comments (4)
Bible Didn’t Stop Bullets
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 07, 2014
Back in February, a bus driver, Rickey Wagoner, claimed that he was shot at by three teenagers while he was standing outside his bus. But he survived because a Bible he was carrying in his shirt pocket miraculously stopped the bullets. (The version of the Bible was a translation by Eugene Peterson titled 'The Message'.) Police have now conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that the bus driver couldn't have been telling the truth. According to the Dayton Daily News: Police ballistics tests showed that bullets fired from the handgun - a 25-caliber Raven model semiautomatic - at the same distance as had been fired at Wagoner’s book penetrated the…
Van Gogh’s ear on display
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 07, 2014
The ZKM Media Museum in Karlsruhe, Germany has been displaying a living replica of Van Gogh's ear. It was created by artist Diemut Strebe, working together with scientists at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. Strebe took cells from one of Van Gogh's descendants and grew them into an ear replica, using a 3-D printer to create the shape. [wsj.com] This recalls Hugh Troy's prank from 1935 in which he molded some dried beef into the shape of an ear, mounted it in a velvet-lined box, and surreptitiously put it up on display in the Museum of Modern Art during an exhibition of Van Gogh's work, along with a sign that identified…
Categories: Art Comments (1)
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 7
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 07, 2014
July 7, 1948: Crash of Tomato Man
During the late 1970s, a photo began to circulate within the UFO community that purported to show the remains of a large-headed alien whose craft had supposedly crashed near Laredo, Texas on July 7, 1948. The photo was offered as proof that alien crafts have crashed on Earth. The "alien" figure began to be referred to as "Tomato Man" because of its large, round head. But investigation revealed that the crash scene contained objects that were definitely man-made, suggesting that the photo actually shows the crash of a small plane that occurred more recently than 1948. [ufoevidence.org]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 6
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 06, 2014
July 6, 1915: Birth of Elizabeth Durack
Elizabeth Durack was an acclaimed western Australian artist. But controversy erupted in 1997 when Durack revealed that she was also Eddie Burrup, an Aboriginal artist. Works by Burrup had appeared in a number of exhibitions of Aboriginal art, which angered many since Durack (aka Burrup) was in no way Aboriginal. However, Durack remained unrepentant since she considered Burrup to be a legitimate alter ego. [wikipedia]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 5
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 05, 2014
July 5, 1810: P.T. Barnum's Birthday
Happy Birthday, P.T. Barnum! Barnum became one of the most famous men in 19th century America thanks to his realization that "people like to be humbugged" — as long as the humbug provided some entertainment value. So he freely used humbugs to promote his New York museum. His most famous deception was probably the Feejee Mermaid hoax of 1842 in which he lured huge crowds to his museum with ads that showed a beautiful, bare-breasted creature. But what people found on exhibit inside was a small, wizened creature, that was actually the head of an ape stitched onto the body of a fish. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 4
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 04, 2014
July 4, 1879: The Taughannock Giant
Residents of the town of Trumansburg, in upstate New York, came out to see a giant "Stone Man" that had recently been discovered buried near Taughannock Falls. But the excitement only lasted a few days, since it soon became known that the figure wasn't a petrified prehistoric man, as originally thought, but rather a fake created by local hotel owner John Thompson to drum up publicity for his business. [Taughannock Stone Man]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 3
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 03, 2014
July 3, 1931: Death of Harry Reichenbach
Harry Reichenbach was a press agent for the movie industry, known for staging outrageous stunts and hoaxes for the sake of publicity. He was best known for the "September Morn" hoax of 1913 in which he pretended to complain about the indecency of a painting, thereby bringing it to public attention and leading to the sale of millions of copies of it. Ironically, it is now clear that although Reichenbach took credit for the painting's popularity, he could have played no role in its promotion, which reveals that ultimately he was best at promoting himself.
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 2
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 02, 2014
July 2, 1874: Solar Armor
An article that ran in Nevada's Territorial Enterprise newspaper described the case of a man who had invented "solar armor." The armor counteracted the heat of the sun, cooling the wearer more the hotter it grew outside, but his invention worked so well that it caused him to freeze to death in the middle of the Nevada desert during the Summer. Summaries of this curious case soon appeared as fact in papers throughout America and Europe. In reality, the story was the satirical creation of humorist Dan De Quille. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 1
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 01, 2014
July 1, 1959: Watch Found in Shark Hoax
Boat captain Joe St. Denis admitted that the story he had told about finding a wristwatch in a shark's stomach was a hoax. St. Denis caught the 12-foot, 750-lb shark off Catalina Island and then gave the watch (supposedly taken from its belly) to the Sheriff's office who attempted to find out if it belonged to any missing persons. Eventually St. Denis conceded that his entire tale was a "big fat happy hoax." The watch was an old one he had smashed up and dipped in acid. His motive for inventing the story was that he "wanted in the news."
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 30
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 30, 2014
June 30, 2005: Save Toby
A case of bunny blackmail. The owner of the website SaveToby.com claimed that unless he received $50,000 by June 30, 2005, he was going to cook and eat a rabbit named Toby. It was a hollow threat. The deadline passed and was extended multiple times. Nevertheless, animal lovers were outraged. Toby's owner then secured a book deal, resulting in a new threat — that unless 100,000 books were sold, Toby would be eaten. It's doubtful this goal was ever reached. Nevertheless, Toby was eventually issued a formal reprieve.
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 29
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jun 29, 2014
June 29, 1988: The first Lizard Man sighting
A 17-year-old driving home from work at 2 AM in Lee County, South Carolina reportedly encountered a green reptilian humanoid with glowing red eyes. Within a month, several other people had reported seeing a similar creature, leading to a wave of "Lizard Man" mania. Tourists came hoping to see the creature, and a radio station offered a $1 million reward for his capture. Lizard Man remains at large. [wikipedia]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 28
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jun 28, 2014
June 28, 1902: Passage of the Dick Act
According to an email that has circulated widely since 2012, the "Dick Act" (passed on June 28, 1902) permanently made all gun-control laws unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Dick Act "cannot be repealed." This email is a hoax. The truth is that there was a Dick Act, which created the National Guard system, but it had no bearing on gun-control laws. And like any law, it could be repealed (and was, in fact, extensively rewritten by subsequent acts of Congress). [armsandthelaw.com]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 27
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 27, 2014
June 27, 1994: O.J.'s Darkened Mug Shot
Time magazine used a mug shot of O.J. Simpson on its June 27, 1994 cover. However, Newsweek ran the same mug shot on its cover that week. When the two covers appeared side-by-side on newsstands, it became very obvious that Time had altered the mugshot by darkening it. Time argued that it had artistically interpreted the mugshot to make it into an "icon of tragedy." But critics charged Time with racially motivated photofakery. More…


June 27, 2012: Phony Back to the Future Day
Thousands of Facebook users shared a photo that appeared to show that June 27, 2012 was "Back to the Future Day" — the day on which Marty McFly arrives in the future in the 1989 Movie Back to the Future II. However, the actual date of BTF day is Oct. 21, 2015. The phony image had been created as part of a promotion of a box set of Back to the Future DVDs. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes (and Pranks): June 26
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jun 26, 2014
June 26, 1998: Discovery of the Marree Man
A pilot flying in a remote region of South Australia spotted an enormous geoglyph carved into the ground, depicting a man throwing a stick. No one had seen the figure before. Nor did anyone know how it had come to be there. Its creation was assumed to be the work of pranksters. To this day, no one has confessed to making it. [wikipedia]
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.