The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
December 2005
Man Given $15,000 Ring By Stranger
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 30, 2005
Status: Undetermined (reported in the news, but from an anonymous source) It sounds like an urban legend. At the end of a work day a commuter returns to his car parked at the train station in Westborough, Massachusetts, only to realize he had left it unlocked all day. Miraculously, the car is still there, despite the numerous thefts in that area. But someone has been in his car, and they've left something: a box with a white ribbon on it, placed on the front seat. Inside is a diamond ring valued at $15,000, and a note: "Merry Christmas. Thank you for leaving your car door unlocked. Instead of stealing your car I gave you a present. Hopefully this will…
Categories: Law/Police/Crime Comments (6)
iPod or Meat
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 30, 2005
Status: An unusual way of concealing a crime A Hawaiian news station has reported the touching tale of a boy who received a video iPod for Christmas. At least, he received the video iPod box. When he opened the box he found, to his disappointment, only a piece of meat inside of it. His mother, who bought the gift for him at Wal-Mart, where she works, had no idea how the meat could have gotten inside the box, and she's asking the store to give her an iPod instead of the meat. There are two possibilities here. Either the mother is pulling some kind…
Categories: Food, Technology Comments (14)
Extra Virgin Mary
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Status: Prank I'm about five days late posting this, but better late than never. An advertisement for an "Extra Virgin Mary Statue" slipped by the editors of the conservative Catholic magazine, America. The advertisement offered "a stunning ... statue of the Virgin Mary standing atop a serpent wearing a delicate veil of latex." The "delicate veil of latex" was a blue condom. America's editors didn't examine the accompanying photo closely enough to realize this. And so the ad ran in the December 5 edition. People who contacted the seller were told the ad was meant "as an assault on Catholic faith and…
Categories: Advertising, Art, Religion Comments (11)
The Traveling Gnome Prank
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Status: Prank Wayne Johnston's garden gnome disappeared. Then he began receiving letters from it posted from all corners of the world. Being a police officer, Johnston launched an unofficial investigation into who was responsible for his gnome's abduction. It turned out almost all his friends were, including those who had been helping him with his investigation. So this is another instance of the traveling gnome prank. I know that this prank was featured in the 2001 French movie Amelie. It was also further popularized by a Travelocity ad campaign about a traveling gnome. But what I'm not sure about is whether this prank was popular even before Amelie. Have people been sending gnomes around…
Categories: Gnomes, Pranks Comments (21)
Biker Hits Pothole
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Status: Real Everyone is linking to these photos of a biker hitting a pothole in the rain and taking a nasty spill. They were taken by Liu Tao for the Beijing Youth Daily. The thing is that Liu knew the pothole was there and, instead of telling people about it, just waited for someone to fall into it so that he could get his shot. Which kind of makes this a photo sequence of a prank in action. Beijing Youth Daily readers have apparently been outraged by the photos, writing in that Liu is "disgusting" and "should really be condemned."
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks Comments (22)
Fantastic Eggs
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 28, 2005
Status: Real Alejandro from Colombia sent in these pictures that are circulating via email with the subject "Huevos Fantasticos" (or "Fantastic Eggs" in English). He asks, "Are these things real?" Well, I'm pretty sure they are real. I think they're examples of carved ostrich eggs. Do a google image search for "carved ostrich egg" and you'll come up with plenty of other examples. However, I don't know who the artist is responsible for these specific carvings.
Categories: Art Comments (10)
Jesus in a Warming Tray
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 27, 2005
Status: Pareidolia Shortly before Christmas workers at a Florida restaurant noticed that mineral deposits had created a face-like image on the bottom of one of the warming trays they were using. They knew right away that this had to be the face of Christ. (Who else would appear on a warming tray?) According to this MSNBC article "A spokesman for the Stadium Club says they will not continue to use the pan." In other words, Jesus has ruined a perfectly good warming tray. Thanks a lot, Jesus. I assume the next stop for the holy warming tray is eBay.
Categories: Pareidolia, Religion Comments (28)
Fake Fox Hunts
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 27, 2005
Status: Real hunt, fake fox Fox hunts on the day after Christmas (Boxing Day) are a British tradition. However, due to a recent ban on fox hunting, any (legal) hunts this year are going to have to be fake. Which has me a bit puzzled. What does a fake hunt involve? The UPI report, where I read about these fake fox hunts, simply says that: Although banned, thousands of fox hunters in Britain took to the trails Monday on horseback for the annual Boxing Day hunt, some of them chasing only scent. I assume they must be dragging a dead fox to leave its scent for the dogs. Or maybe they…
Categories: Animals, Sports Comments (9)
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 26, 2005
Status: Real Add this to the list of strange extreme sports. Crewmen on military helicopters have apparently been engaging in an activity known as Supermanning. This involves "hanging from an open cargo door and letting the rushing wind 'fly' [your] body, attached only by a safety belt." This practice came to light when Petty Officer Brian Joplin recently died as a result of it. (He fell 125 feet from the helicopter into the Persian Gulf after the safety belt slipped over his shoulders.) I imagine this would make Joplin a strong candidate for a Darwin award. The Virginian-Pilot (may require registration to view the article) provides a brief reconstruction of what happened: …
Categories: Military, Sports Comments (17)
Woman Swallows Cell Phone
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 26, 2005
Status: Partially true Yahoo News! has posted this odd story about a woman who, in a fit of rage, swallowed an entire cellphone: A lovers' dispute over a cell phone ended suddenly when the woman swallowed the phone whole, police said. Police said they received a call at 4:52 a.m. Friday from a Blue Springs man who said his girlfriend was having trouble breathing. When they arrived at the house they found the 24-year-old woman had a cell phone lodged in her throat. "He wanted the phone and she wouldn't give it to him, so she attempted to swallow it," Detective Sgt. Steve Decker of the Blue Springs Police Department. "She just put the…
Categories: Food, Technology Comments (15)
Are Santa’s Reindeer Female? (An update)
Posted by The Curator on Mon Dec 26, 2005
Status: Debunking an urban legend Last year there was some discussion on the site about the gender of Santa's reindeer. The theory (as stated in an email that was doing the rounds) is that Santa's reindeer all have to be female because male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, whereas female reindeer retain their antlers until the spring. Big Gary, who's wintering in Alaska, has sent along this photo of "a bull reindeer in Fairbanks, Alaska, this Wednesday, December 21, 2005," which pretty much settles the question of whether male reindeers can have their antlers in late December, around Christmas time. They obviously can. So Santa's reindeer could be male…
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends Comments (10)
I've been ignoring the internet for the past few days because I've been too busy eating, drinking, and opening presents. So I'll wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas now, or whatever holiday you celebrate: Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia—for all those ancient Romans out there (since I studied Latin for eight years, I consider myself an honorary ancient Roman)— or nothing at all. Although I was trying to ignore the outside world, it did manage to briefly track me down. A reporter from the Washington Post called to talk about the case of fraudulent cloning research in South Korea that's been making headlines. Here's what I said (that made it into the article):…
Categories: Miscellaneous Comments (11)
Mariah Carey’s Saudi Arabia Album Covers
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 23, 2005
Images purporting to show Saudi Arabian versions of Mariah Carey's album covers have recently appeared on the web. says that "Because of the laws over there her album covers had to be touched up to be made less sexy." Maybe. It sounds like something that would be done in Saudi Arabia. However, the lack of a clear source for these images makes me suspicious. They could equally well have been created by somebody playing around with photoshop. (And why is there no arabic script on these Saudi Arabian covers?) (And incidentally, I just read that Mariah Carey has 17 Number One singles, tying the number that Elvis had. This is odd because I'm unable to name a…
Categories: Celebrities, Photos/Videos Comments (33)
Ant Carries Crackers
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 22, 2005
Status: Photoshopped My strong hunch is that this picture has been photoshopped. It looks too well composed not to have been. Also, I don't see how the crackers could balance that evenly on the ant's back. I don't know where the picture comes from, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was either from Worth1000 or some kind of inspirational poster. Update: It is a Worth1000 picture. (Big surprise there, 90% of hoax pictures seem to originate from there.) It's part of a "Mission Impossible" gallery and was created by Jaffar1900. (Thanks to Marcan Dy Arabian for finding…
Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos Comments (15)
La Pascualita, the Mexican Corpse Bride
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 21, 2005
Status: Urban Legend This has already been posted in the hoax forum, but it's too good to ignore. Reuters has reported on a Mexican urban legend concerning a mannequin in the window of a bridal gown store in the city of Chihuahua. Local rumor has it that the mannequin is really the embalmed body of the former store owner's daughter. The former store owner was called Pascuala Esparza. La Pascualita means 'Little Pascuala' (i.e. her daughter). According to the legend her daughter died from the bite of a Black Widow spider on her wedding day, so Pascuala embalmed her and stood her up…
Categories: Death, Urban Legends Comments (46)
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