The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
On September 9, Apple gave away U2's new album, Songs of Innocence, as a free download for all 500 million iTunes users. However, the giveaway met with some backlash after iPhone users complained about the album downloading automatically, and many people who didn't want the album discovered it was difficult to delete, prompting Apple to set up a website providing instructions on how to delete the album. But was this the first time U2 had given away their music? An image posted to Twitter by user JamieDMJ showed an old technology catalog from the 1980s offering a "Free U2 tape with every cassette player." JamieDMJ added the comment: "Exactly how long have…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 Comments (0)

September 17, 1859: Emperor Norton I Declared
On this day in 1859, San Francisco resident Joshua Norton declared himself Emperor of the United States. He reigned for 21 years, walking the streets of the city dressed in a military uniform, completed by a plumed hat, gold epaulets, and a sword. Among his proclamations was the abolishment of the U.S. Congress, as well as the Democratic and Republican parties. At his funeral, over 30,000 people lined the streets of San Francisco. [wikipedia]
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 Comments (0)

September 16, 1560: Martin Guerre Imposter Hanged
On this day in 1560, the French peasant Arnaud du Tilh, who had been posing as another man, Martin Guerre, was hanged outside the home of the real Martin Guerre. The real Guerre had mysteriously disappeared in 1548, abandoning his wife. Eight years later, du Tilh showed up, claimed to be Guerre, and moved in with Guerre's wife. But 4 years later, Guerre returned, exposing du Tilh's imposture. More…
Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 Comments (0)

North Country Public Radio blogger Brian Mann asks, "Is fight for Scottish independence based on a literary hoax?" He concedes that if Scotland does decide for independence, there will be "many causes, many inspirations." But he notes that Scottish cultural nationalism first got a big push back in the 18th Century when James Macpherson published his Ossian poems, claiming they were a translation of epic poems written by an ancient Scottish bard. The poems gave Scots a sense of pride in having a great cultural heritage. But the truth was that Macpherson had mostly written the poems himself. (Which, in itself, was an impressive achievement, although much of the appeal of the poems lay in the idea that they were ancient).
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 Comments (1)


Back on April 1st, Hamburger Helper (which now prefers to be known simply as 'Helper') ran an April Fool joke about the opening of a Hamburger Helper restaurant, Helper Hut, serving only Hamburger Helper food. On Sep 12 in Minneapolis that vision briefly became a reality when a "pop-up restaurant" opened for one night, serving only Hamburger Helper. Apparently the company had received such positive feedback about the April Fool joke that they decided to do it for real. However, there are no plans yet for a permanent Hamburger Helper restaurant. [youtube]
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 Comments (0)

Brooklyn artist Tina Trachtenburg has created over 100 hand-sewn fake pigeons. She places these pigeons around town, creating "flashflocks". Apparently the real feral pigeons are dumbfounded by the fake ones. [boweyboogie.com]
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 Comments (0)

Robert Hellar was making tacos at the St. Andre Bessette church festival in Michigan when someone came up to him and said, "Jesus love polish food more than Mexican food." Hellar asked why, and the person showed him a pierogi that had just been cooked at another food stand. It appeared to bear the face of Jesus. The Jesus Pierogi has now been frozen until they can figure out what to do with it. [upi.com]
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 Comments (1)

True or False? Decapitated snakes can still inflict lethal bites. Unfortunately it's true. [Huffington Post]
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 Comments (2)

In 1976, a leaflet began to circulate throughout Europe warning of a number of alleged carcinogens. Highest on the list was citric acid. Millions of people saw and may have believed the leaflet. The false rumor persisted well into the 1980s. The leaflet came to be known as the Villejuif leaflet, because one version of it claimed the information came from Villejuif Hospital. [wikipedia]
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 Comments (0)

The Yakima Herald reports that Bigfoot believers in Washington State are keeping the faith, despite much discouraging news recently. (Such as that recent Oxford University study of suspected Bigfoot hairs, that found that all the hairs came from racoons, horses, bears, etc.) The believers note that even if all suspected Bigfoot hair samples are found to come from other (known) species, that doesn't mean Bigfoot doesn't exist. It just means that those particular hairs weren't from a Bigfoot.
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 Comments (0)

Turns out there's some controversy surrounding Zilla van den Born's fake vacation (see previous post). Another art student, Merel Brugman, says that Zilla stole the idea from her, because two years ago, while Merel was at the Willem de Kooning Academy, she did an art project that was almost identical. Merel's project was called "Same Same But Different" and also involved simulating a vacation in Asia via photoshopped pictures. There's an article (in Dutch) about the controversy here. And details of Merel Brugman's project are on her site.
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 Comments (0)

Zilla van den Born told her friends and family that she was going on a 5-week holiday to Southeast Asia. She waved goodbye to her family at the airport. And then for the next 5 weeks all her Facebook friends got to see photos of Zilla enjoying her awesome vacation. But the reality was that Zilla never left Amsterdam. She remained there in an apartment with her boyfriend, and the two of them spent their time creating fake vacation photos to post on Facebook. Many of the photos were…
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 Comments (1)

September 10, 2009: Seeking Child's Father
On this day in 2009, a video appeared on YouTube purportedly created by a Danish woman named Karen who explained that she was trying to locate the father of her child, since she couldn't remember his name. The child, she said, had been conceived in a drunken one-night stand. The video promptly went viral, but then was exposed as a hoax created by the Danish government's tourism agency in order to promote tourism to Denmark. [youtube]
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 Comments (0)

September 9, 1991: Doug and Dave, Crop Circle Hoaxers
On this day, the British tabloid Today announced that two men from Hampshire, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, had originated the crop circle phenomenon back in 1978 as a prank. Over the years, Today said, the two had continued creating hundreds of circles using nothing more than two wooden boards, a piece of string, and a baseball cap fitted with a loop of wire to help guide them. To prove their claim, the pair created a crop circle in the presence of a Today journalist. [menwhoconnedtheworld]
Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 Comments (0)

A picture of a new "pumpkin spice" condom offered by Durex went viral yesterday, accompanied by the tagline "Because safe sex is important, no matter what season it is." Durex has a line of "Taste Me" condoms that come in the flavors banana, strawberry, orange and apple. So a pumpkin spice flavor didn't seem all that ridiculous. But today Durex threw cold water on people's hopes that it might be real. The company tweeted, "We've heard talk that we launched a Pumpkin Spice condom. We can't claim this one, but we do love it when people spice it up in the bedroom."
Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 Comments (0)

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