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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
January 2006
The Tempest Prognosticator (aka Leech Barometer) — Status: Real device (whether it worked is undetermined) Students of the history of meteorology may be aware of the Tempest Prognosticator of Dr. George Merryweather, but it was news to me. The Tempest Prognosticator was a device invented in the mid-nineteenth century that allowed the forecast of storms, via leeches. Apparently there's been some debate about whether this contraption actually existed, but author Paul Collins, on his blog, confirms that it did. In fact, it was displayed…
Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006.   Comments (3)

Healing Power of Prayer Study — Status: Pseudoscience Last night ABC News had a segment about a study being funded by the National Institutes of Health to determine if prayer can help cancer patients heal faster. Or more specifically, whether a stranger's prayers can help a patient heal faster. (The people running the study have invented the bs term 'distant healing' to make what they're studying sound more legitimate.) My jaw was on the floor as I was watching this. I couldn't believe the government had been suckered…
Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006.   Comments (30)

Truthiness — Status: New word The American Dialect Society has announced its words of the year for 2005 (links to a pdf file). A number of them are relevant to the study of hoaxes. For instance, the word of the year is Truthiness: truthiness: the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. I suppose the opposite of truthiness would be hoaxiness. A few of the other words of the year include: flee-ancée: runaway bride…
Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006.   Comments (8)

The Flower Fairy — Status: Prank A Flower Fairy is on the loose on Anderson Island: Last spring flower bouquets and potted plants began appearing without explanation at the homes of numerous residents of this small island southwest of Tacoma. After a summer hiatus, the practice has resumed, island Fire Chief Jim Bixler said... Residents who received the deliveries said they heard a knock and answered the door to find a floral gift with a handwritten note saying, "Hope these make you smile." Each note is…
Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006.   Comments (9)


McDonald’s Nessie Ad — Status: Advertisement Here's an ad for McDonalds featuring the Loch Ness Monster (or one of her cousins). I think the language they're speaking is Polish. (via Ceticismo Aberto)
Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006.   Comments (3)

Counterfeit Money Clogs Toilet — Status: Stupid Criminals A Colorado couple, realizing the police were onto their counterfeiting operation, tried to get rid of the incriminating evidence by flushing it all down the toilet. The results were predictable: There's dirty money associated with crime, then there's dirty money. Investigators encountered the latter on Thursday, when they discovered a rental duplex that had flooded with sewage when the tenants flushed at least $10,000 in suspected counterfeit money down a…
Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006.   Comments (3)

$25 an Hour, Anyone Hired — Status: Probably a Ponzi Scheme Cranky Media Guy (aka Bob Pagani) noticed this story in the HawkEye about a job offer that sounds an awful lot like a Ponzi Scheme. Terrie Brown, who owns a limousine business in Burlington, Iowa, is offering to hire absolutely anyone at the rate of $25 an hour. Here's the part of her offer that sounds like a scam: The hiring process includes filling out an application and then paying a $10 processing fee, according to Brown. Everyone who fills out an…
Posted: Sun Jan 08, 2006.   Comments (2)

House For Sale - Princess Caraboo’s Grave Attached — Status: A piece of hoax history for sale The Bristol Evening Post reports that the house adjacent to what is believed to be Princess Caraboo's grave in Bristol is up for sale. The asking price is a fairly reasonable £299,950 (about $530,000). (I reported back in 2003 that the gravesite was in danger of being paved over to make a parking lot, but I guess that threat was averted.) I can't find the Bristol Evening Post article online, but here's the property listing. (From the date of the…
Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006.   Comments (7)

The State of Maddocha — Status: Fiction Olivia Bruce emailed me to ask: Where is this place...or does it just not exist? I'd be hard-pressed to say where exactly Maddocha is. (Its official website simply says that Maddocha was "a wide-open space that was discovered and then occupied by John Madly and his family.") So I'm going to go with option B. It just doesn't exist. A quick google search reveals that Maddocha seems to be the creation of Deartra D. Boone.
Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006.   Comments (12)

Dukes of Fallujah — Status: Photoshopped This is pretty obviously photoshopped. The colors are too bright, for one thing. Also, I don't think the Army lets soldiers custom paint their jeeps. (via Telebush)
Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006.   Comments (14)

Fire Fart — Status: Fake This video of a guy lighting a candle by setting his fart on fire is obviously fake. (Given that the video is one big fart joke, it's probably not safe for work, though it's otherwise work safe.) However, it seems that a number of people actually think it's real. To verify that it's fake, all you need to do is visit the url displayed on the film: sheepfilms.co.uk, which is the website of amateur filmmaker David Packer (aka Sheep). He has a lot of films starring himself…
Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006.   Comments (7)

Condom in a Hazelnut — Status: Seems to be a prank Brian Geist was sitting at home on New Year's Eve enjoying some hazelnuts. But there was a strange surprise in one of them: a condom. As his wife reported to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (may require registration): "My husband cracked open a hazelnut and a condom popped out. He couldn't believe it. He just sort of sat there and stared at it and he said, 'You wouldn't believe what I found in this nut," Geist said Tuesday. She assumed he might have…
Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006.   Comments (17)

Feminist Icons Admit to Prank — Status: Confession of a prank Back in 1970 a picture was taken showing four young women waving placards with messages such as "Ban the Man" and "Down with Men and Marriage." The picture became a symbol of feminism. But thirty-five years later, the women have confessed that their anti-man protest was just a prank. Margot Ducat explains: "One day my colleagues - Jo Vincent, Sue James and Shirley Francis - found a wedding dress stuffed in one of the cupboards. Quite why someone left it…
Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006.   Comments (28)

The Case of the Missing Violin — Status: False theft report A San Francisco woman has admitted to sending police on a wild goose chase to find a $175,000 violin that she claimed had been stolen from her car. She really does own such a violin, but it doesn't appear to have been missing. It's not clear why she said it was. Here are some details from the AP article: The sad tale of a San Francisco music student who had a $175,000 18th century violin swiped from her towed car was a fabrication, authorities confirmed…
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (9)

‘Who Wants To Die’ Talking Elmo — Status: Either a prank or a manufacturing defect When Angela Bolls bought an interactive Elmo book for her young daughter, Miranda, she had no idea what she would be exposing her daughter to: Family members said 16-month-old Miranda Boll's new book, "Potty Time With Elmo," was supposed to teach an interactive lesson using voice commands. However, when the book's buttons are pressed, it reportedly says something it is not supposed to -- "who wants to die?" ... Bolls said she checked…
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (52)

Red Iceberg — Status: Real Here's an odd image I found floating around on the web. It looks photoshopped, but it turns out that it's real. A Danish artist, Marco Evaristti, spray-painted an iceberg red back in 2004 to make some kind of artistic statement. As this MSNBC article explains: Evaristti and his crew sailed in two ice breakers from the small town of Ilullissat, Greenland, on Wednesday, and zigzagged among icebergs for about 30 minutes before they found the perfect frozen canvas. Working…
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (14)

Hoax Cartoons — Here's a couple of hoax-related cartoons. The first one was found by my wife in yesterday's paper: This next one was found by Big Gary on Yahoo. (It refers to Sony's fake graffiti.)
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (6)

Woman Marries Dolphin — Status: Not a legally recognized marriage A British woman has married a dolphin. The touching ceremony took place at Dolphin Reef in the Israeli port of Eilat (which is, I guess, where the dolphin lives). The dolphin is named Cindy, but despite the female name seems to be a male. (That would have made it even more unconventional if it was a gay interspecies marriage.) No word on where the couple plan to honeymoon. And one can only speculate on whether this marriage will ever be
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (16)

Happy New Year — Happy New Year everyone. My new year's resolution is to be more productive, procrastinate less, post more often, and resurrect that email newsletter which I've started and let lapse numerous times. I'll start implementing these resolutions as soon as I finish watching the first season of Lost, which I got for Christmas on DVD. One has to have priorities, after all.
Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006.   Comments (4)

Publishers Reject Booker Prize Winners — Status: Publishers hoaxed Convinced that the publishing industry can no longer recognize quality literature when they see it, the Sunday Times devised an experiment to test their theory. They submitted opening chapters of books by V.S. Naipaul and Stanley Middleton to twenty publishers and agents. The results: None appears to have recognised them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.…
Posted: Mon Jan 02, 2006.   Comments (7)

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