The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Trust him - they’re really there! — Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created "nano sculptures" so small that they can't be seen with the eye. You need a scanning electron microscope to view them. So how do you know the sculptures really exist and that he's not just showing you an image on a screen? You don't. That's why he's titled his works "Trust." In that sense, it's kinda like the old Brazilian Invisible Fish gag. [mnn.com]
Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014.   Comments (0)

Giant Eel — A pair of videos that seemed to show a giant "human sized eel" in New Zealand's Manawatu River went viral in the past week. It caught the attention of a viral video show, Right This Minute, who contacted the two young men (brothers Tim and Ray Hamilton) who filmed the footage and asked them for the right to air it on TV. At which point, Tim and Ray confessed that the footage was fake. They had filmed the eel in a bathtub and then composited that footage with shots of the river and Ray throwing bread at the imaginary eel. Continue…
Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014.   Comments (0)

Edgar Allan Poe Gum Mark — Redditor "famousmess" posted an image to the pareidolia subreddit, showing a gum mark he saw on the floor of the subway that looks like Edgar Allan Poe. What subway, I don't know. He concedes it's possible that it might be stencil art. However, he notes that, "it's real small and the same general size of the other gums... I know some street artists and showed them, consensus is gum but who knows. It would be a silly spot and size to get noticed." Continue…
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2014.   Comments (0)

Terror in Mammoth, Arizona — People in the small town of Mammoth, Arizona were puzzled when, earlier this week, they started to receive calls asking about the outbreak of a deadly, infectious disease — a disease that supposedly caused hemorrhagic bleeding and violent behavior. Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary was happening in Mammoth, so why all the calls? It turns out the calls were inspired by a fictional story titled "WTF is going on in Pinal county, Arizona??" posted on the reddit community "No Sleep." The 'No Sleep' subreddit is a place where people share fictional horror stories and then post…Continue…
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2014.   Comments (0)


New Hoax Photo Test — I recently completed a major update and revision of the Hoax Photo Test. It now has 50 photos to challenge your photo-fakery detection skills. And it includes an old-time photo fakery level, featuring photos from before the time of Photoshop. So give it a try!
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2014.   Comments (4)

Macaulay Culkin not dead — A fake news report recently circulated on social media alleging that former child star Macaulay Culkin, of Home Alone fame, had been found dead in his Manhattan apartment. Cause of death was not described. The fake report originated from the spoof website msnbc.website, which is unaffiliated with the MSNBC news network.
Posted: Tue Nov 11, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Hippocratic Tampon. Fact or fiction? — Tampax, maker of feminine hygiene products, has an article on its website in which it claims that, "The ancient Egyptians fashioned disposable tampons from softened papyrus. The Greek physician Hippocrates, writing in the fifth century B.C., described another type of tampon, which was made of lint wrapped around lightweight wood." Helen King, in an article posted at Wonders and Marvels, notes that this idea of a 'Hippocratic tampon' has been repeated uncritically by many other sites. But was it true? Did women in ancient Greece actually use tampons? No, she argues, they didn't. King…Continue…
Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014.   Comments (0)

Musicals, plays, and movies based on hoaxes — Last night, Balloon Boy: The Musical had its opening-night performance at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado. The musical was written by Billy Reece, who's only 16. He told the LA Times that it's "a comedy that is neither for nor against the Heenes, but a commentary on a celebrity-obsessed society." Richard Heene, father of Balloon Boy, has not, to my knowledge, commented on the new musical. It got me thinking about how many other hoaxes have been made into musicals or plays. Here's the list of all the ones that I can think of (though I'm sure there must be more): Continue…
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

3000 tarantulas for sale? — There's a bit of a mystery on Reddit. Redditor "tcatron565" claims to have come across a post on Facebook from someone trying to sell 3000 tarantulas because their owner "is away" and the spiders are starving. These tarantulas need to find a home fast! Definitely an unusual situation, but is it for real? Impossible to say since there's no contact info, and tcatron565 hasn't offered any more details. But just in case it's not a hoax, the moderator of the spiders subreddit has offered to go to "great lengths" to find a home for the tarantulas. [via Daily Dot]
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

All ads, all the time — At Web Summit in Dublin, two social-media strategists started pitching a new startup called VelloBook, which they described as the "world's first ad-only social media network. Giving people the power to share ads." They also created a Twitter feed, @VelloBook. But after they started getting a lot of requests for meetings, they realized that they needed to make it clearer that this was a "fake startup" — a joke! I predict that it's a joke that will one day soon become reality. [independent.ie]
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

Satirical Candidates in Colorado — Election results in Adams County, Colo. have been delayed because of an all write-in race for the county surveyor post, which means every ballot has to be read by a human. They're already reporting a large number of write-in votes for Mickey Mouse and Brad Pitt. [Denver Channel]
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Nessie Wave — If I were to make a list of the Worst Nessie Sightings Ever, Jonathan Bright's Nessie photo would have to be near the top of the list. To me it looks like a wave. Plain and simple. And yet he's managed to successfully promote this thing (and himself). He was a featured speaker at Scotland's first Paranormal Festival where he discussed the photo, and most recently his Wave-Nessie was the subject of a write-up in the Daily Mail. Bright took the photo on Nov 2, 2011 while taking a cruise of Loch Ness. That happens to be the same day that the skipper George Edwards [edit: claimed he]…Continue…
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (5)

Spider-Filled Beanie Babies — The latest fake news story to be mistaken for reality comes from clickhole.com. It claims that Beanie Babies made in the 90s were actually filled with thousands of spider eggs, and that those eggs are now beginning to hatch "bursting through the seams of Beanies everywhere." Syracuse.com reports that the fake story has been shared on Facebook over 58,000 times. Unlike most fake news stories, which aren't funny at all, I can actually see an element of humor in this one.
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014.   Comments (1)

Birboon, Schnowlzer, Laughing Hamstyna, etc. — California artist Sarah Derememer creates hybrid animals, such as the "birboon" (a cross between a baboon and a sparrow) as a way to improve her photoshop skills. [telegraph.co.uk]
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014.   Comments (0)

Alex from Target: hoax or the real deal? — "Alex from Target" is the latest instant celebrity of the Internet age. He's a teenager who works at Target in Texas, and his real name is Alex LaBeouf. It's not entirely clear who took his picture as he was bagging groceries at Target, but a week ago a teen girl in London (Twitter user @auscalum) shared his picture on Twitter, captioning it, "YOOOOOOOOOO." Viral fame soon followed, because millions of other teen girls apparently couldn't get enough of how adorable Alex from Target was. But was Alex's cuteness the only reason for his sudden fame? Maybe not. Soon after Alex became…Continue…
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014.   Comments (1)

Smoke Pareidolia — A face was seen in a plume of smoke above a burning building in Fresno, CA. The face was said to have appeared just as someone was being saved from the building. Therefore, one eyewitness concluded that the face must be that of Jesus Christ. [yourcentralvalley.com]
Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014.   Comments (1)

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe Redux? — While dining at the Bobby Flay Steak restaurant in Atlantic City, Joe Lentini said he ordered a bottle of Screaming Eagle Oakville 2011, at the recommendation of the waitress, who told him it cost "thirty-seven fifty." He was surprised when this turned out to be $3,750, not $37.50. After he complained the bill was lowered to $2,200. [NY Mag]
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (1)

Another one for the ‘Bad Excuses’ file — When pulled over by a cop, this Florida motorist identified herself as Christina Topp, age 22. When the cop questioned why she really didn't look 22, the woman explained that she had a "medical condition that makes her age faster." But when the cop pulled up Christina Topp's driver's license photo and found that the motorist looked nothing like it, the woman admitted she had lied. She was trying to pretend to be her daughter because her own license had been suspended. Her actual age was 43. [Smoking Gun]
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (0)

Rat Myth — According to myth, there's a 1:1 ratio of rats to people living in New York City. But Columbia University researcher Jonathan Auerbach determined that there's actually only 1 rat for every 4 people. [npr.org]
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (0)

Fake fakes — Cordy's auction house thought they were selling two fake Monets painted by famous art forger Elmyr de Hory. But actually they were fake De Hory's painted by a London bookmaker, Ken Talbot. Now the two paintings are going up for sale again as "Fakes of fake Claude Monet." [NZ Herald]
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (0)

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