The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoaxes Inspired by September 11, 2001
The NASA Satellite Photo
Soon after 9/11 an email began to circulate urging people to light a candle and stand outside their home with it at a specified date and time (the date varied between versions of the email). Supposedly a NASA satellite would then take a photograph of the entire nation illuminated by candlelight in order to demonstrate the solidarity of the American people in the face of terrorist aggression. The photo would appear on NASA's website the following day. NASA never planned to take such a photograph. The light of even 200 million candles spread out over the entire nation would be invisible from space. Therefore, a photo of the nation... More…
Nostradamus Predicted 9/11
Soon after 9/11 an email began to circulate claiming that the sixteenth-century astrologer Nostradamus had predicted the terrorist attacks. Some "genuine Nostradamus quatrains" were offered as proof of this claim. More…
Tourist Guy, 2001
Soon after the tragic events of Sep. 11, 2001, a sensational photo began circulating widely via email, showing a tourist posing for a snapshot on top of the World Trade Center as a plane approached from behind. A caption explained that the photo came from a camera found in the rubble of the building. Apparently the photo had been taken just seconds before disaster struck. The photo was quickly debunked, but it took several months to find out that the guy in the photo was really a Hungarian man who had visited the World Trade Center in 1997. He had inserted a plane into one of his old holiday photos as a joke, never realizing how far his joke would travel. More…
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…
Phony 9/11 Deaths
As estimates of the death toll rose in the days following the 9/11 attacks, enormous amounts of sympathy and media attention flowed out towards those who had lost loved ones in the attack. Those who had participated in rescue efforts were hailed as national heroes. But simultaneously, many people (motivated, perhaps, by a desire for sympathy or attention) fabricated tales of phony heroics and lost loved ones in the weeks and months following 9/11. Listed are a few of the more notable cases of these phony 9/11 tales: More…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.