The Museum of Hoaxes
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Terror and Hate Crime Hoaxes
The Wingdings Prophecies
Wingdings are a series of so-called "dingbat fonts" in Microsoft Word. They display symbols and pictures instead of letters, with each symbol corresponding to a different letter. In 1992, soon after the release of Windows 3.1, a rumor began to circulate alleging that anti-semitic messages had been coded into wingdings. The cause of this rumor was the (true) fact that if you typed the letters NYC using wingdings, you got a skull and crossbones, a star of David, and a thumbs up symbol. More…
The Tawana Brawley Case, 1987
The case of Tawana Brawley initially appeared to be a shocking, racially motivated crime. The teenager was found lying inside a trash bag with racial insults written on her body. She claimed that a group of white men, including police officers, had raped and beaten her. The black community rallied around her, and the Reverend Al Sharpton appointed himself her spokesman. But the material evidence didn't back up Brawley's claims. Her body displayed no signs of assault. So suspicions mounted that Brawley had made up a wild story in order to avoid punishment at the hand of her stepfather for having run away from home for three days. More…
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 1903
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was first published in Russia in 1903. It was said to be the text of a speech given by a Zionist leader outlining a secret Jewish plan to achieve world power by controlling international finance and subverting the power of the Christian church. The manuscript was used to justify hate campaigns against the Jewish people throughout the twentieth century, including the Russian pogroms of the early twentieth century and the Nazi persecutions of the 1930s and '40s. Many copies of the Protocols are still in circulation today throughout the world. However, the Protocols are a hoax. Journalists discovered in... More…
The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, 1836
In a tell-all book, Maria Monk described scandalous secrets of the Montreal convent where she claimed to have lived for 7 years. Nuns sleeping with priests. Babies killed and buried in the basement. Her revelations caused public outcry and stoked anti-Catholic sentiment. But investigations found no evidence to back up her claims. Nor evidence that she had even been at the convent. More…
The Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle
In 1782 a shocking letter was printed in the Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle. It alleged that Indian warriors were sending hundreds of American scalps as war trophies to British royalty and Members of Parliament. The scalps included those of women, as well as young girls and boys. Soon the letter had crossed the Atlantic and began to circulate throughout Europe, where it shocked European public opinion. But in fact, the British had not received scalps from any Indians. The Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle was a fake newspaper which Benjamin Franklin had printed and distributed to his friends. Franklin intended... More…
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Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1849 1850-1899 1900-1949 1950-1979 1980s 1990s 2000s

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