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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
March 2004
Wired = Overloaded Server — Wired published an article about net hoaxes today, for which I was interviewed. The increased traffic it brought promptly melted down my web host's servers, which has been causing quite a headache for me. But regardless, it's nice to get the visitors. Perhaps a few of them were even able to view some of the site's content.
Posted: Wed Mar 31, 2004.   Comments (1)

Fake Vermeer was the Real Thing — Once thought to be a fake Vermeer, this painting of a young woman sitting before a keyboard has now been officially reclassified as a real Vermeer. It's going up for sale (the first time a Vermeer has been sold since 1921), so if you've got a couple of million lying around, feel free to make a bid.
Posted: Wed Mar 31, 2004.   Comments (0)

Restaurant Strip-Search Hoax — According to the Wall Street Journal a strange prank is becoming a real problem for restaurants throughout America. A phone prankster calls up a restaurant, pretending to a police officer, and asks the manager of the restaurant to strip search the store's employees. The reason given is usually that the police are searching for stolen money or drugs. And time after time the store managers comply with the request. I've seen cases of this prank reported in the news before, and I assumed…
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (2)

More Spam on April 1st — Makers of network security software are warning that there may be an increase in spam leading up to April Fool's Day. "Spammers are expected to use subject lines such as "great joke," "free jokes," "prank," or "April fools" to entice users into opening attachments that carry viruses or objectionable content, potentially putting company networks at risk."
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (0)


April Fool’s Day Survey — Survey finds that two-in-ten workers participate in April Fool's Day at the office. The best part of the article are the examples of office pranks it lists: moving someone's office to the front lobby, telling colleagues they can leave early, super-glueing drawers shut, etc. One of the best office pranks that I've heard about occurred at a small company and was played on the human resources manager. One after another every employee went into her office and told her that they were…
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (1)

The Mini Cooper Autonomous Robot — Colin Mayhew, an engineer at a British division of BMW, decided to convert a mini cooper r50 into an autonomous biped robot. The results are quite impressive. In particular, check out this video. The no-frills design of the page makes it seem quite believable. But sleuths on Slashdot have determined that it's a hoax. The url is registered to an ad agency working for BMW. (via Things Magazine)
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (80)

You Make Me Feel Like Gancing — A recent issue of Stuff Magazine described the latest dance craze hitting the clubs: Gancing. That's short for guy-on-guy dancing. Not gay dancing, mind you. This is heterosexual (or metrosexual) guy-on-guy dancing. The theory is that this is actually a great strategy for picking up women, since the women are turned on by the sensitivity of the dancing men. There are various 'gances,' such as the Shark, in which one guy pretends he's a shark and chases another guy around the dance…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (0)

Fake pregnancy — Maya-Anne Mays was living the good life. She had a couple paying her rent, buying her meals, and giving her money. Why? Because the couple thought she was pregnant, and they were going to adopt her baby. But it turned out Mays wasn't pregnant... just overweight. She had managed to pass a pregnancy test by taking the test soon after having a miscarriage. The couple finally wised up and forced her to take another test, which she failed.
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Belle de Jour Commentary — The Guardian invited Cynthia Payne, "Britain's best-known madam," to comment on the Belle de Jour weblog, i.e. did she think it's really written by a London call girl, or is it all the product of some writer's imagination. Payne declares that it's "a load of rubbish."
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (2)

Yo, God! — P.T. Barnum once suggested that someone should invent a humbugometer, which would be a device to detect the presence of humbug. But the folks at Yo, God! have done Barnum one better. They've invented a God Detector, to detect the presence of God. For example, say that you beseech God for a sign, and at that moment the phone rings. Is that really a sign from God, or is it just a coincidence? Whip out your Yo, God! detector, and you'll have the answer.
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Dragon Hoax Was a Hoax — Back in January I posted an entry about what I called the Almost Great Dragon Hoax. It described a tiny dragon that had been found in a jar of formaldehyde in a garage in Oxfordshire. Supposedly the dragon had been created in the nineteenth century by German scientists trying to hoax their British counterparts, but the joke had been spotted by the British and placed in the trash... only to be recovered from there and end up years later in the Oxfordshire garage. Now it turns out that…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Glass and Blair: Together At Last — Christopher Frizzelle of The Stranger managed to get a real scoop. He convinced both Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass to sit down and talk with him simultaneously, so that they could compare notes on their careers as rogue journalists. Unfortunately, this dream interview never occurred. The Stranger later published a tongue-in-cheek retraction. And Stephen Glass himself denied that the interview took place. Still, Karl Freske (whom I have to thank for providing me with a heads-up about…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (0)

ChatNannies Last All Summer Long — This story has been growing in size for the past week, and now it seems definite. It's a hoax. It began with a story in New Scientist last week describing an artificial intelligence program designed by Jim Wightman, an IT consultant from Wolverhampton. This program, called ChatNannies, supposedly scours internet chat rooms pretending to be a child and luring pedophiles into conversation with it. Once it identifies a pedophile, it reports them to the authorities. Sounds great, but if it…
Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2004.   Comments (6)

Egg Prank — I've seen post-its, tinfoil, and packing foam before, but eggs are definitely a new one (scroll down to see the story). (via BoingBoing)
Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2004.   Comments (0)

Actor Wanted, Preferably Dead — A British theater group is auditioning actors for a part in its next production. But there's one catch. They're only interested in people who can promise that they'll die before the play begins its run. Your body, if you get the part, will then lie lifeless on stage. Evidently it's not a speaking role. It's hard not to suspect that this is all a big publicity stunt and that when the time comes there will be no body on stage. Wouldn't you need a license for something like that? It…
Posted: Thu Mar 25, 2004.   Comments (0)

Museum of Hoaxes RSS Feed — I've finally gotten my act together to enable the RSS Feed that comes built into the software that I use to run this site. So if you use an RSS reader to scan blogs every day, you can now add the Museum of Hoaxes to your subscription list. The RSS Feed is here. I'll also add a button in the navigation bar on the right.
Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2004.   Comments (1)

Hate Crime or Hoax Crime? — On March 9 Kerri Dunn, a psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College east of LA, reported that her car had been vandalized and covered with racist graffiti. Now the police suspect that Ms. Dunn, who often spoke out against racism, may have staged the crime herself. Apparently some witnesses claim that the car was already covered with graffiti when she pulled into the college parking lot where the crime supposedly took place. She denies this, of course. So we'll have to wait and…
Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2004.   Comments (4)

Not Harry Potter — Here's some free advice. If a guy you meet online claims to be Daniel Radcliffe, the young actor who plays Harry Potter, don't believe him. A teenage girl from Chile flew all the way to England with her mother to meet an online correspondent who claimed to be Daniel Radcliffe, only to find some random slimebag waiting for her. Which reminds me, J.Lo, I'm still heartbroken that you stood me up.
Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2004.   Comments (0)

Naked Redux — Naked Came the Stranger, the hoax novel penned in 1969 by 24 reporters from Newsday, is being re-released by Barricade Books as a 'cult classic.' The movie rights to the book have also been bought.
Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2004.   Comments (0)

Post-It Prank — It's not quite as elaborate as the foil prank that got a huge amount of publicity two months ago, but it's good nevertheless. Damon arrived at his office on Monday morning to discover that over the weekend his co-workers had covered everything in his office with post-its.
Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2004.   Comments (0)

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