The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
February 2006
Ann Arbor Public School Site
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 28, 2006
Status: Parody The website of the Ann Arbor Public School system can be found at A parody version of it (created by an unknown author) is at Apparently the school district doesn't find the parody amusing, because they're sending its domain host a cease-and-desist letter claiming infringement of their intellectual property. The two sites do look very similar, but I don't think their case would hold up in court. After all, parody relies upon copying elements of whatever it's making fun of, and parody has always been a "fair use" exception to copyright that the courts have strongly defended. However,…
Categories: Websites Comments (9)
Video iPod
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 28, 2006
Status: HoaxIn the past two weeks there have been a flurry of rumors, accompanied by pictures, about new products from Apple. We've seen this version of a new video iPod: It turned out to be a hoax created by "Bud62". A picture of an Apple iPhone has also been floating around: This iPhone is a fantasy product designed by Isamu Sanada (who's just a guy who likes to design fictitious Apple products). And finally, we have another video iPod: …
Categories: Technology Comments (11)
The Disappearing Blonde Gene
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 28, 2006
Status: Hoax reported as news Peter Frost has an article in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior in which he argues that the trait for blonde hair evolved 10,000 years ago in northern Europe because men found blonde women to be attractive--and because there were more women than men, the women had to compete for the men. (I'm simplifying his argument a lot.) But I'm not bringing this up to make a point about Frost's article. Instead, I'm bringing it up because the London Times discusses his article and concludes with this observation: Film star blondes such as Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Sharon Stone and Scarlett Johansson are held up…
Categories: Journalism, Science Comments (32)
Ancient Buddha Figurines Found in California River
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 27, 2006
Status: Undetermined A resident of the town of Colfax (northern California) claims to have found hundreds of ancient Buddha figurines buried in the American River: Herman Henry says he found about 400 of the Buddha carvings in a washed out sandbar along the River more than a month ago. The thumb-sized, white carvings may be hundreds of years old. And now federal and state investigators are looking into the discovery and are looking for Mr. Henry. He found them in a state park. It's illegal to remove historical artifacts from a state park, so that's why the police…
Categories: History Comments (9)
Turkish Wrist Walkers
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 27, 2006
Status: Real I've received quite a few emails about the following story, presumably because it seems like something lifted from Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks. A family in Turkey contains five siblings who have apparently never learned how to walk on their feet. They still walk on all fours, with the weight of their upper bodies supported by their wrists (wrist walking, as opposed to knuckle walking, which is what apes do). You can check out a video of one of these wrist walkers on the website of Turkish researcher Uner Tan. The…
Categories: Science Comments (19)
The Tongue Map
Posted by The Curator on Sun Feb 26, 2006
Status: Urban Legend One of the many catalogs I receive is the Wine Enthusiast. On the inside cover of the catalog I received last week is a description of Symphony Stemware wine glasses which are supposedly "designed and shaped to enhance the best characteristics of every wine." Accompanying this claim is a map of the tongue with the following caption: "The specially designed shape of each glass directs the flow of wine to the proper areas of your palate, emphasizing a wine's best qualities and creating a balanced taste for maximum enjoyment." Symphony…
Categories: Food, Urban Legends Comments (30)
Overpopulated Mouse Colony Perishes
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 25, 2006
Status: A hoax (perhaps?) based on a real experiment Henry Rosenbaum emailed me with the following description of a hoax, followed by a question: For 30 years, from the mid-1960's, I lived in central Michigan, about a four hour drive from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where my wife and I often visited for weekends. I well recall an exhibit at one of the major museums that featured an enclosed cage/environment with a number of mice and a descriptive explanation to the effect: The mice were limited in the amount of space they were afforded, yet they were provided all the food and water their colony required, regardless of its numbers. The display stated they had at first…
Categories: Animals Comments (24)
Powerball Lottery Hoax: The Details
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 25, 2006
Here's Bob's preliminary account of the powerball lottery hoax: Alan Abel and I have been talking about doing something with the Powerball for the better part of a year now. It all came together really quickly last weekend when we heard that the record Powerball jackpot was finally won. A number of things came together that made this week just about perfect: It was a record amount; there was only one winner; it was won in a rural state which would make things seem less suspicious; Monday was a holiday, meaning that the lottery office would be closed, almost certainly buying us at least 24 hours to operate before the real winner surfaced.
Categories: Business/Finance Comments (7)
The Case of the Microwaved Penis
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 24, 2006
Status: hoax The following incident caught my attention because it occurred in McKeesport, which is right outside of Pittsburgh. This is where my mother grew up. My grandfather used to be mayor of a small suburb of McKeesport called Liberty Borough. I visited it often growing up. McKeesport is also where Andy Warhol grew up. Sadly, the city has gone way, way downhill ever since the steel mills closed, as evidenced by this incident: Police in McKeesport said a woman who needed to pass a work-related drug test was the reason behind a fake penis being microwaved at a convenience store. A clerk at the Giant Eagle Get-Go store along Lyle Boulevard told police…
Categories: Body Manipulation Comments (20)
The Traveling Hippo Experiment
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 24, 2006
I've just received a few copies of my book, Hippo Eats Dwarf, from my publisher. This is the final version that will be on sale in stores in a few weeks. It's great to see the book finally done and in print! Anyway, since I have a few extra copies, an idea occurred to me. Why not give them away? But not as prizes. Instead, give them away to volunteers on the condition that, once read, they're passed along to someone else. Each person who gets the book will write a note in it saying where it's been and also try to send a picture of the book back to me. This way I can create a…
Categories: Miscellaneous Comments (17)
Great-Grandmother Gives Birth
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 24, 2006
Status: True Thanks to Big Gary for directing my attention to Janise Wulf, the 62-year-old great-grandmother who just gave birth to her 12th child. Gary wasn't totally sure that the story was real, but I'm pretty sure it is. After all, on my page about birth hoaxes I note a true story of a 63-year-old woman who gave birth back in 1997. And the Guardian reports that the oldest woman ever to give birth was Adriana Iliescu, who did so at the age of 66 last year. I know a lot of kids are raised by their grandparents, but it…
Categories: Birth/Babies Comments (18)
Bob Pagano Wins $365M Powerball Lottery
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
Status: Hoax Alan Abel has struck again, this time with the help of a regular here at the Museum of Hoaxes, Bob Pagani (aka Cranky Media Guy). Bob pretended to be the winner of the $365M Powerball lottery. (The real winners were a bunch of meat packers.) Apparently Abel helped behind the scenes. The action took place on Monday, but I didn't hear about it until today when I got an email from a reporter at the Des Moines Register asking me if I had heard about the Powerball Prank, and what I thought about it. A quick news search pulled up this article: On Monday, a man who said he was an unemployed…
Categories: Business/Finance, Pranks Comments (17)
Philippine Urban Legends (Jose Rizal was Jack the Ripper)
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
Status: urban legends An article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer records some Philippine urban legends: the "White Lady" of Balete Drive, Robina Gokongwei's "snake twin" lurking in department store dressing rooms, the elusive "kapre" that lives in an ancient mango tree near the Emilio Aguinaldo house in Kawit town, and Andres Bonifacio's love child from a place aptly named Libog (now Santo Domingo) in Albay province. None of those mean much to me. But most of the article is devoted to discussing two other Philippine legends that are of more general interest. The first one is that Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, "was the father of Adolf Hitler, the result of an indiscretion with…
Pastry Burgers
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
Status: Pastry disguised as fast food Apparently some men feel self-conscious about eating pastries in public, fearing that chowing down on confectioneries doesn't look very manly. Mamido's burgers, a restaurant in Japan, has the solution. It disguises pastries as fast food. Treehugger reports: The "bun" is actually a sponge cake, the "patty" inside is chocolate cream, and the "pickles" are kiwis. The deep-fried fish burger, meanwhile, priced at ¥440 ($3.70), features a banana shaped like a fish fillet in sponge cake. It is topped with "tartar sauce," which is actually fresh cream. And the gratin burger, also at ¥440, is a sandwich with a cream cheese and fruit filling. The side dishes…
Categories: Food Comments (12)
Ayds Weight-Loss Candy
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 22, 2006
Status: Real On Google video there are a couple of commercials from the early 80s touting a weight-loss product called Ayds. (An Ayds radio commercial can be heard here.) The name of the product is so unfortunate, that it makes the ads sound like Saturday Night Live skits, with lines such as: "Ayds helps you control your appetite so you lose weight... Why take diet pills when you can enjoy Ayds?... Ayds helps you lose weight safely and effectively!" However, the ads are totally real, as was the product. Many of you might even remember it (though I don't).…
Categories: Food Comments (86)
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