The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
April 2004
Jackson isn’t dead, nor is he touring Namibia — Sam Nujoma, President of Namibia, eagerly waited for the arrival of Michael Jackson, whom he believed was launching a 12-day tour of Africa in his country. Unfortunately, he waited and waited, and Jackson never showed up. In fact, Jackson never had any plans to visit Africa. Nujoma was the victim of misinformation. Jackson isn't even allowed to travel abroad until the case against him is settled.
Posted: Sat Apr 17, 2004.   Comments (0)

Michael Jackson Isn’t Dead — Despite the claims of this faux news story, Michael Jackson isn't dead.
Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2004.   Comments (1)

Paris Hilton’s Pubic Hair — Celebrity body parts seem to be the thing to sell on eBay. A few weeks ago George Best's liver was up for sale. Now we have Paris Hilton's pubic hair. According to the description on the auction, "This bundle of Pubic Hair was taken from Paris Hilton's bathroom sink at one of her hotels when she visited Australia late last year, Surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!! She isn't a natural blonde!!!!!!!!!!!!" The auction was yanked by eBay soon after it was put up, confirming that it was almost definitely…
Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2004.   Comments (8)

Million-Dollar Phone Number — The phone number 135 8585 8585 recently went up for sale on the Chinese internet auction site EachNet.com, and fetched the staggering price of $1.1 million. The appeal of the number is apparently that when spoken in Chinese it sounds similar to the phrase "let me be rich be rich be rich be rich." Well, whoever shelled out that much for the number is going to be a little bit poorer now (though it looks like the phrase worked for the previous owner). But you have to suspect that it was a hoax bid.
Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2004.   Comments (1)


Japanese Magnetic Fan — Kohei Minato, a Japanese inventor, has built an incredible new kind of magnet-powered electric motor. As this article on Japan.com explains, "Minato's motors consume just 20 percent or less of the power of conventional motors with the same torque and horse power. They run cool to the touch and produce almost no acoustic or electrical noise. They are significantly safer and cheaper (in terms of power consumed), and they are sounder environmentally." Sounds really great. Until you read…
Posted: Fri Apr 16, 2004.   Comments (2)

Soldier Guy — About a month ago a photo began to circulate around the internet showing an American soldier posing with two Iraqi boys. One of the boys was holding up a sign that read, 'Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad, then he knocked up my sister!' Needless to say, the photo caused a lot of outrage. The Council on American-Islamic Relations complained to the Pentagon about it. And it received coverage in publications such as Islam Online. According to the Marine Corps Times, "Investigating officers have…
Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004.   Comments (1)

Demi Moore’s Wedding Dress Browns — I remember seeing the issue of Star Magazine with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher on the cover, both wearing white, as I was standing in the checkout line at the supermarket. It had big headlines about their rumored engagement. Turns out they weren't actually wearing white. Demi Moore was wearing a brown dress and Ashton Kutcher was wearing a pink suit. But the editors of Star digitally changed the color of their clothes to make the image fit in with the whole wedding theme. In the…
Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004.   Comments (0)

Fake Tax Returns — Here's a story that's appropriate for April 15. Orange County tax preparer indicted for filing over 16,000 fake federal returns.
Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004.   Comments (1)

Godsend Institute, and other movie sites — A few people have written to me about the Godsend Institute, which is supposedly a Massachusetts fertility clinic that offers human cloning as an option for its patients. Its website is quite slick and well produced, but the Godsend Institute is, of course, not real. The site is part of the advertising campaign for the upcoming movie Godsend starring Robert De Niro. Wired published an article about this yesterday. Ever since the Blair Witch Project succeeded in creating such a buzz…
Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004.   Comments (2)

Real Pictures, False Memories — A recent study has shown how surprisingly easy it is to convince people that they remember things that never happened to them. 27.3% of the college students who participated in the study were able to be persuaded to 'remember' a fictitious event that supposedly happened during their childhood. But when a picture was produced to help jog their memory, that figure rose to 65.2%. So the next time you want to remind someone of that money they owe you, bring along a picture.
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (1)

Four-Eyed Kitten — Recently a four-eared cat named Lilly has been in the news. Lilly and her four ears are quite real. They're the result of a genetic defect. By contrast, the four-eyed kitten shown in the thumbnail to the right doesn't seem real at all. The top set of eyes is exactly identical to the bottom set of eyes, indicating a cut-and-paste job. (Thanks to Alicka for the picture).
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (9)

New Retirement Plan — My wife received this note in an email at work. Sadly, even though it's a joke, the advice it offers seems quite sensible: New Retirement Plan: If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00. With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1,000.00. With WorldCom, you would have less than $5.00 left. But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of Beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling…
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (2)

Reality TV is Rigged — Keith Hollihan lives downstairs from an apartment that was featured on an episode of The Apprentice. The show's contestants were challenged by Trump to renovate and rent the apartment (as well as other ones throughout the city) for the highest price possible. Hollihan writes about how after the show was done, he got to know the new renter and discovered from her that the rental price she had agreed to on tv was a sham. It was far higher than the price she actually paid. In other words,…
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (6)

EU bans dangerous jellies — One can always depend on EU politicians for bizarre and arbitrary decrees. First there was their decision to reclassify carrots as fruit. Now they've decided to ban jelly mini cups, recognizing them as the obvious threat to public safety that they are. Apparently they're afraid that someone might choke on the things, even though no one has ever done so in the past. File this under 'sounds like a hoax, but actually isn't.' Update: Apparently there have been deaths attributed to these…
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (11)

Fake Abductions More Common Than Most People Realize — The abduction of Audrey Seiler, and subsequent revelation that she had faked the abduction herself, has been generating a lot of media attention. But in an interview with the Newhouse News Service, Ben Radford, managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, points out that cases like this are far more common than most people realize. By his estimate, they occur about three of four times a month, but most of the cases slip under the media's radar. In the early stages of the Seiler case,…
Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2004.   Comments (0)

Weeping Mary Returns — About a year and a half ago I posted an entry about a statue of the Virgin Mary in Perth that was weeping rose-scented tears. Critics and church officials dismissed it as a hoax created by filling the statue with some kind of oil. Now that same statue is back in the news again, crying even more publicly. The Archbishop of Perth has cautioned people that "the case for a miraculous happening has not been proved."
Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2004.   Comments (0)

New Zealand Rapper MC Emu — On the Fighting Talk weblog journalism student Patrick Crewdson gives an example of how hoaxes can make the leap from being fiction into becoming fact. He once edited a journal called Critic that published a joke article about "New Zealand's least-known musician": rapper MC Emu. Of course, MC Emu was fictitious, but now references to this rapper have begun to appear in serious histories of New Zealand music... references that seem to credit MC Emu with being a real character.
Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2004.   Comments (1)

Fingers in Eyes — Alex Knight sent in a link to this picture from Yahoo! News, which is one of those images that looks fake, even though it's real (warning: the full-sized image may definitely make you cringe). It reminds me of the 'finger through the nose and out the eye' picture which was going around about a year ago, and which was definitely fake.
Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2004.   Comments (3)

Is this Baby Jessica? — Back in 1987 'Baby Jessica' became famous when she fell down a well and was saved following a dramatic rescue operation. Stuff Magazine is now featuring a photo of 'Baby Jessica' all grown up and posing by a well, but is that really Baby Jessica? Makeup and lighting will do a lot (as will digital touch-up work), but the woman in the photo doesn't look that much like Jessica as she appeared a few years ago in this picture. Here's a link to a hi-res scan of the Stuff article. Note that…
Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2004.   Comments (10)

ID Sniper Rifle — The ID Sniper Rifle is a high-powered rifle, produced by Empire North, that supposedly can implant a GPS-microchip into a person, allowing the military to track them wherever they go in the world. Here's the description from Empire North's website: The microchip will enter the body and stay there, causing no internal damage, and only a very small amount of physical pain to the target. It will feel like a mosquito-bite lasting a fraction of a second. Given the low-tech feel of Empire…
Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2004.   Comments (6)

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