The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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)

Gay serum rumor — Politics are getting ugly in Burnaby, British Columbia. A rumor has been circulating alleging that, if reelected, the party backing the current mayor (pictured) intends to inject children with a "gay serum" that will make them homosexual. The rumor appears to have been inspired by the fact that in 2011 the Burnaby School District adopted a policy to combat homophobia. [Yahoo! News Canada]Continue…
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (1)

Minge Pies? — An image circulating on social media appeared to show a box of mince pies, made by the frozen food chain Iceland (which is a UK company, not an Icelandic one), whose packaging featured an unfortunate spelling error (or perhaps an unfortunately stylized font), offering "Minge Pies" instead of "Mince Pies." Minge is British slang for a woman's genitals. The photo trended with the hashtag #mingepies. The picture elicited comments from Twitter users such as: "Something about Iceland's mince pies doesn't look quite right." "Oh Iceland... you really should have used a different font." Continue…
Posted: Wed Nov 05, 2014.   Comments (1)

Real video, fake story — The sex tape "sweeping the internet" that allegedly shows a 26 (or 35)-year-old teacher sleeping with a 16-year-old student actually shows a fling between a woman (who's not a teacher) and an adult college student. It's not clear how the fake story got attached to the video, but the story definitely boosted the video's popularity. [gawker.com]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Jackalope in the news! — The Smithsonian discovers that it owns an actual jackalope. (Actually, it was a rabbit infected by Shope papilloma virus.) [Smithsonian Science]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Make the bad music stop! — No, Bill Gates didn't offer a "young thug" $9 Million to stop making music. It's another fake news story. This time from Huzlers.com. [David Emery]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Scrutinizing Champ — Scott Mardis analyzes Dennis Hall's Alleged 'Champ' Video Evidence. [Bizarre Zoology]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Technology vs. Bigfoot — Monster hunters newly outfitted with cameras, drones and night-vision goggles are hot on the trail of crypto-creatures. Will all this new technology help catch Bigfoot? (Well, no amount of gadgets can conjure up something that isn't there, but the monster hunters are certainly having fun with all the new toys.) [cnn.com]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

No lies in the future? — New technology promises to turn smartphones into lie detectors, so that we'll always know when people are lying to us. (But how reliable will this technology really be?) [Wash Post]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Who is the Angel of Kobane? — A viral photo allegedly shows a female Kurdish soldier who's slain over 100 Islamic State fighters. But a Swedish journalist who actually met the woman in the photo says she's a former law student who volunteered with the home guard or police force of Kobane, and isn't a front-line fighter. Therefore it's unlikely she's killed huge numbers of the enemy. [BBC Trending]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Photobombed by a ghost? — To me it looks like just another bar patron in the background, but the women who took the picture think it's a Victorian-era ghost. [metro.co.uk]
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Older Berliners ordered to appear for cremation, 1926 — Germans have long had a national reputation for obediently following orders. This was probably the point of a "grim joke" played upon some older residents of Berlin in 1926 who received an official-looking notice from the "Crematory of Greater Berlin" informing them that, due to their age, and "in accordance with the law of June 31, 1925," they were required to present themselves at the crematory the following morning, before the entrance to Furnace No. 6, "for the purpose of being cremated." The Berlin police learned of this letter after many of its recipients went to the police…Continue…
Posted: Sun Nov 02, 2014.   Comments (1)

  • Is all publicity good publicity? The Chinese dating app Youjia created a fake ad claiming that a young woman was funding her travels throughout China by having sex with men who would pay her way for her. But the ad raised the ire of Chinese authorities who have now banned the sale of the app throughout the country. [telegraph.co.uk]
  • 40 years ago. The 1974 War of the Worlds Panic broadcast in which Martians invaded Rhode Island — a lesser-known sequel to the 1932 broadcast. [Providence Journal]
  • Satirical art provokes outrage. Artist Darren Cullen set up a fake "Pocket Money Loans" shop for kids (and accompanying website) to mock parasitic payday lenders. Many people didn't realize it was satire. [London24]
  • Ghost stories for Halloween. Richard Sugg writes about 19th century campus ghosts, and campus ghost hoaxes. [Times Higher Education]
  • MOH gets a shout out. Jack Shafer notes that the problem of fake news "clickbait" stories long predates the internet, and he cites a number of examples of 19th century fake news stories archived here at the Hoax Museum. [reuters]
  • Fake news. Emergent.info lists an article about a Macedonian man who cut off his penis and put it in the trash as "unverified and problematic." [emergent.info]
  • Celebrity death hoaxes. Judd Nelson isn't dead, nor is Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. [ibtimes, classicalite]
  • Music urban legend. Is 27 the age at which rock stars are most likely to die an untimely death? That's the popular theory, but author Dianna Kenny found that it's just a myth. "The average male musician dies in his late 50s, compared with 75 for men outside the industry." [Wall Street Journal]
  • A case of a man crying wolf? Andrew Davies lies on the ground faking illness so often that he's now been given an anti-social behavior order banning him from wasting the time of emergency crews any more. [telegraph.co.uk]
  • Real photo, fake caption. The viral Airplane Rainbow Photo was supposedly taken by a woman as her plane flew through a rainbow. But the rainbow effect is caused by the light being polarised by the window. Not from flying through a rainbow. [usvsth3m.com]
  • Halloween urban legend. The 'man arrested for having sex with a pumpkin' urban legend. [About.com urban legends]
  • Poe's Law in action. The satirical claim that Michele Bachmann questioned why dinosaur bones are dirty if they've been buried for millions of years has been widely accepted as an actual quotation from her. [Snopes]
  • Cryptozoologists feuding. The American Bigfoot research community is well-known for its bitter feuds and rivalries. Apparently Australian Yowie researchers are no different. [Courier Mail]
  • Nessie Hunting. New documents show that back in the 1930s, the London Natural History Museum appealed to bounty hunters to shoot and kill Nessie, for the sake of science. A letter from a museum official stated, "Should you ever come within range of the ‘Monster’ I hope you will not be deterred 
by humanitarian considerations from shooting him on the 
spot and sending the carcase to us in cold storage, carriage forward. Short of this, a flipper, a jaw or a tooth would be very welcome." [Scotsman.com]
  • Prolific ghosts. Ben Radford's article about spirits who dictate books includes the interesting factoid that, 175 years after her death, Betsy Ross revealed to psychic Susan Lander that she was a lesbian. [Discovery News]

Posted: Fri Oct 31, 2014.   Comments (0)

  • Art fraud. The story of Walter and Margaret Keane is the subject of an upcoming movie by Tim Burton. Walter became an art sensation in the 1960s because of his paintings of sad, big-eyed children. But it was actually his wife Margaret who painted them. [The Guardian]
  • Photoshop before photoshop. Back in the 1940s, if photo editors wanted to make a quick change to a photo, they could use the Adams Retouching Machine. [Daily Mail]
  • Imaginary friend for sale. Georgia Horrocks's psychiatrist recommended that she say goodbye to Bernard, her imaginary friend. So she offered Bernard for sale on eBay. Bernard "will be sent via imagination to the winning bidder.” [news.com.au]
  • Too good to be true? The Consumerist is skeptical about that picture going around of a hungover guy who got a Domino's Pizza delivery person to bring the pizza to him in his bedroom, so he wouldn't have to get up to answer the front door. Although there's no way to prove that it isn't true. [Consumerist]
  • Hoax becomes reality. Earlier this week an image of a "Sexy Ebola Nurse" Halloween costume started doing the rounds, but it proved to be a hoax. The costume was actually a "Sexy Breaking Bad" costume. But now one company really is offering a "sexy Ebola containment suit" for sale as a Halloween costume. [Buzzfeed]
  • Another fake news story goes viral. NASA never said that the earth would be plunged into "six days of darkness" in December due to a solar storm. The story was an invention of fake news site Huzlers.com. [GMA News]

Posted: Tue Oct 28, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Cooper Family Falling Body Photo — The story goes that sometime in the 1950s the Cooper family of Texas bought an old house and moved into it. On their first night there, the father took a photo of Mom and Grandma posing with the two kids at the dining room table. Everyone was happy and smiling. They were living the American dream. But when the photo was subsequently developed, they saw, to their horror, that what looked like a body falling or hanging from the ceiling had materialized behind them. It hadn't been there when the father took the photo. So where had it come from? Was it an apparition of a deceased former…Continue…
Posted: Mon Oct 27, 2014.   Comments (13)

  • Is anyone really named Penis? BabyCenter.com, the self-proclaimed "#1 parenting and pregnancy digital resource," claims there were seven baby boys in the United States named Penis in 2012. But when Ryan Jacobs set out to find them, he couldn't locate a single one of them. [Pacific Standard]
  • Do you want to buy a haunted house? Gwynne Watkins interviews a realtor who works at Past Life Homes, a firm that specializes in selling homes with "stigmatized pasts," which is a euphemistic way of saying that they're haunted. [vulture.com]
  • 10 of the greatest hoaxes? That's what the Herald Sun claims their list represents. But it's yet another list that reads more like '10 hoaxes that came up on a google search'. [Herald Sun]
  • Nazi Party Museum Hoax. A letter received by homes and businesses in Utrecht, informing them that a museum detailing the history of the Dutch Nazi movement will soon open, has been called "extremely odd," since no such museum is planned. [DutchNews.nl]
  • Swiss-Army-knife Trout. A picture of a trout swimming in Switzerland's Lake Blausee with a Swiss Army knife stuck in its head is real, says the lake manager, who also adds the fish was later captured and put out of its misery. [NY Daily News]
  • The true origin of Count Dracula. There's no evidence that Bram Stoker modeled Count Dracula on Vlad the Impaler, despite current widespread belief to the contrary. According to Stoker's notes, he chose the name because "DRACULA in Wallachian language means DEVIL." [io9.com]
  • Misinformation about a misinformation study. Indiana University's "Truthy Project" (funded by the NSF) is designed to study how information and misinformation spreads through social media. But it's now become the subject of a conservative rumor claiming that it's actually a government project "to monitor the activities of those who oppose its policies." [motherboard]

Posted: Fri Oct 24, 2014.   Comments (0)

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.