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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Das Can-in-Stein
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 28, 2014
April Fool becomes reality. ThinkGeek first introduced "Das Can-in-Stein" on April 1st, as an April Fool's Day joke. The idea was to insert your beer can into the device so that you could pretend you were drinking from a pewter beer stein. ThinkGeek has now decided to sell this product for real. You can purchase one for $10.
Categories: April Fools Day Comments (0)
For ZZ Top, life imitates hoax
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 28, 2014
In 2012, a ZZ Top fan made a hoax video that purported to show the trio performing the 1955 folk-country classic "Sixteen Tons" with guitarist Jeff Beck. In a case of life imitating hoax, Jeff Beck and ZZ Top recently performed together in L.A., and they decided to play "Sixteen Tons" — because of the fan's hoax video. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top said, "It’s a mega meta kinda thang. [LA Times]
Categories: Music Comments (0)
Sailing Stones Explained
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 28, 2014
The Sailing Stones of Death Valley are the real-life counterpart of Dan De Quille's 1867 hoax about the "traveling stones" of Pahranagat Valley. The sailing stones mysteriously move across dried mud, leaving tracks behind them. For a long time, no one knew exactly what made the sailing stones move. But now researchers have figured it out. [Discover]
Categories: Science Comments (0)
The Shadwell Shams
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 28, 2014
The Spitalfields Life blog has a brief account (with lots of pictures) of the so-called Shadwell Shams. These were supposedly medieval trinkets, specifically pilgrim's badges (tens of thousands of them), that a pair of forgers, William Smith & Charles Eaton (aka Billy & Charley), claimed to have found in the mud along the Thames. The pair did a good business for over 10 years, from 1856 to 1867, managing to completely fool most archaeologists. The article notes that, "today their Shadwell Shams are commonly worth more than the genuine antiquities they forged."
Categories: History Comments (0)
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: August 28
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 28, 2014
August 28, 1972: Clifford Irving Goes to Prison
On this day in 1972, Clifford Irving began serving a 2½-year sentence for conspiracy and fraud on account of selling publisher McGraw-Hill a fake autobiography of billionaire Howard Hughes, for which he was paid $750,000. By the time he went to prison, he had returned $500,000 of that money. He was released early after serving 16 months. More…
Categories: This Day in History Comments (0)
Happy Meal Ouija Board
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 27, 2014
After Amy Bruni (of SyFy's Ghost Hunters) posted on Facebook about how excited she was that McDonald's had decided to offer a Ouija Board as the new Halloween Happy Meal toy, so many people believed her that Snopes debunked the rumor the next day.
Categories: Paranormal Comments (0)
An interview with a fake news site
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 27, 2014
The American Press Institute interviews the founders of Nipsys News, which is one of those sites that allows anyone to create fake news stories. Most recently Nipsys was responsible for a viral hoax alleging that the the legal drinking age in the U.S. would soon change to 25. The founders of Nipsys gloss over the ethics of what they're doing with some hand-waving about "freedom of expression." But at the end of the interview they offer some advice about how to identify fake news. And it's actually good advice: "We just advise readers to check if the information from the article can be found in other sources as well. Don’t trust just one source."
Categories: Journalism Comments (0)
Gnome sighting in Pennsylvania
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 27, 2014
Author Keith Sniadach set up a camera in the woods behind his summer cabin in western Pennsylvania, programming the camera to take photos when it detected heat or motion. And recently he found something unusual in the photos it took — a creature that appears to be a "gnome, troll or brownie of some sort." When I first saw the headline for this story on Cryptozoology News I thought it was meant to be a joke. But no. I think Sniadach genuinely wants people to believe that he photographed a gnome. As in, not a garden gnome statue that you might buy from a garden supply store, but a living, breathing gnome. He's provided…
Categories: Cryptozoology, Gnomes Comments (6)
Pregnancy Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 27, 2014
Kevin and Becky Clark, who were hoping to adopt a child, were contacted by a woman claiming to be pregnant and hoping to find a couple to adopt it. For over a month the Clarks were in daily contact with the woman, planning the adoption, until she told them the baby was stillborn. But it turned out there was no baby. She had never been pregnant. What makes this unusual is that the hoaxer doesn't seem to have been looking for any money. Instead, she just craved attention. And it wasn't the first time she had done this. [Columbus Dispatch]
Categories: Birth/Babies Comments (0)
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: August 27
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 27, 2014
August 27, 2003: Mars as big as the Moon
The news that on this day in 2003 the Earth and Mars would be closer than they had been in 60,000 years (only 56 million km apart) inspired a viral email claiming that on the night of the 27th Mars would "look as large as the full moon" in the sky, and that "No one alive today will ever see this again." Since 2003, this viral email has resurfaced every year as August 27 approaches, despite attempts by NASA (and many others) to debunk it. [NASA]
Categories: This Day in History Comments (0)
Fake News Hoax: Zimmerman Arrested in Ferguson
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 26, 2014
The latest fake news story gone viral on social media is the claim that George Zimmerman (who shot Trayvon Martin back in 2012) was recently arrested in Ferguson after following two black teenagers out of a Dunkin Donuts and then aiming a handgun at them when they confronted him. The story originated with fake news site National Report. It's completely bogus. [hoax-slayer]
Ebola Rumors
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 26, 2014
Ebola rumors and conspiracy theories are spreading fast in Africa. One rumor is that the disease itself is a hoax invented by governments to boost their power. Another is that drinking salt water can cure the disease. Researchers note that the spread of rumors and conspiracy theories is to be expected in a situation such as a terrifying outbreak, because the rumors are actually "psychologically reassuring," allowing people to restore a feeling of control in the face of an unpredictable threat. [nytimes.com]
Categories: Health/Medicine Comments (0)
Nessie Explanations
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 26, 2014
Mental Floss has a list of 7 explanations for the Loch Ness Monster. That is, 7 things that people might be seeing and misinterpreting as Nessie. The list is: lake sturgeons, surfacing trees, indigenous eels, mountainous reflections, bird wakes, bubbles produced by seismic activity, and swimming elephants. Over the years, there have been quite a few more explanations than this offered to account for Nessie sightings. And some of the explanations are definitely strange. One of these days I'll get around to producing a full list of them.
Categories: Nessie Comments (1)
Yellowstone Rumor Control
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 26, 2014
Guides at Yellowstone are having to spend more time debunking rumors because of a large increase in the number of scare stories about the park circulating online. The rumors mostly focus on the Yellowstone supervolcano and the fear that it's about to erupt. One rumor claims the park is being evacuated because of an imminent eruption. Another says the release of high levels of helium from the park's thermal features is a sign the volcano is about to blow. (The helium release is normal). Melting asphalt on the roads is also normal. And bison are not fleeing the park. It's common for them to migrate to lower elevations in search of food. [yellowstonegate.com]
Categories: Urban Legends Comments (0)
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: August 26
Posted by The Curator on Tue Aug 26, 2014
August 26, 1966: Trained the Wrong Side
The press described it as "one of the war's most confused episodes" when Sgt. Bernd M. Huber confessed that while stationed in Vietnam he had mistakenly given an entire battalion of enemy soldiers specialized training in weapons and demolition, for two months. A day before their graduation, the enemy soldiers disappeared, leaving behind a note, "Thank you for the training. We're Ho Chi Minh's boys." But several days later, on this day in 1966, Huber confessed that the incident never happened. It was a war story he had heard from another soldier. In other words, it was an urban legend.
Categories: This Day in History Comments (0)
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.