The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
December 2005
Man Given $15,000 Ring By Stranger — 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…
Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2005.   Comments (6)

iPod or Meat — 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…
Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2005.   Comments (14)

Extra Virgin Mary — 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…
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2005.   Comments (11)

The Traveling Gnome Prank — 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…
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2005.   Comments (21)


Biker Hits Pothole — 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…
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2005.   Comments (22)

Fantastic Eggs — 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.
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2005.   Comments (10)

Jesus in a Warming Tray — 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,…
Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2005.   Comments (28)

Fake Fox Hunts — 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…
Posted: Tue Dec 27, 2005.   Comments (9)

Supermanning — 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…
Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2005.   Comments (17)

Woman Swallows Cell Phone — 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…
Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2005.   Comments (15)

Are Santa’s Reindeer Female? (An update) — 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…
Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2005.   Comments (10)

Happy Holidays (also seeking suggestions for the top ten hoaxes of 2005) — 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…
Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2005.   Comments (11)

Mariah Carey’s Saudi Arabia Album Covers — Images purporting to show Saudi Arabian versions of Mariah Carey's album covers have recently appeared on the web. Mediabum.com 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…
Posted: Fri Dec 23, 2005.   Comments (33)

Ant Carries Crackers — 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…
Posted: Thu Dec 22, 2005.   Comments (15)

La Pascualita, the Mexican Corpse Bride — 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…
Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005.   Comments (46)

Giving Santa the Bird — Status: Undetermined Here's a picture that's doing the rounds. I have no idea how long it's been circulating. Anyway, it's possible that the little girl's finger has been photoshopped in. But my guess is that the picture is real enough. Though who can tell anymore. I have no clue where the picture originally came from. Click the image to read the accompanying text. (It's another one of those 'priceless' parodies.)
Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005.   Comments (9)

Man Fulfills Short Life Prediction — Status: Self-fulfilled prophecy When Sandeep was born, an astrologer predicted that he would have a short life. Recently another astrologer, on TV, seconded this prediction. In despair (whether because of the second prediction, or for some other reason, is not clear), Sandeep took his own life, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. This isn't the only self-fulfillment of a death prophecy that I'm aware of. The more famous case was the prediction of the 16th century astrologer Girolamo…
Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005.   Comments (5)

Who Should Win the Caption Contest? — I said that I would decide who should win the caption contest today. But I'm having a tough time making a decision because there are a number of good entries. So I've decided to make the contest more democratic and let the winner be decided by a vote. I've selected my top eight choices. Pick your favorite, and cast your vote. I'll let the voting run for a day or two. Update: As of Dec. 23, Kieran won the vote . Congratulations!
Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005.   Comments (14)

Monkey Art Fools Expert — Status: Art hoax Dr. Katja Schneider, director of the State Art Museum in Moritzburg, has been embarrassed by mistaking a painting done by Banghi, a 31-year-old female chimp, for a work by the late Ernst Wilhelm Nay: The director of the State Art Museum of Moritzburg in Saxony-Anhalt, Katja Schneider, suggested the painting was by the Guggenheim Prize-winning artist Ernst Wilhelm Nay. "It looks like an Ernst Wilhelm Nay. He was famous for using such blotches of colour," Dr Schneider…
Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005.   Comments (18)

Student Visited By DHS Agents After Requesting Little Red Book at Library — Status: Hoax A news report has been doing the rounds concerning a student at UMass Dartmouth who was visited by Department of Homeland Security agents after ordering the official Peking version of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book via interlibrary loan. The student needed the book for a research paper on communism, but apparently the book is on some kind of government watch list, and thus the visit. However, over at Boing Boing, suspicions have been raised that the story is a hoax.…
Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005.   Comments (10)

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