Hoax Museum Blog Posts: May 2007

Panty-Clad Robber — Here's a recent case of a man who is obviously not cut out for a life of crime: What a cashier first thought of as a practical joke turned into no laughing matter for a Ranson man who was arrested Wednesday after using women’s underwear and a lighter shaped like a small gun in an attempt to rob a convenience store... “He entered the store wearing a pair of women’s pajama shorts over his face,” Sgt. T.C. Kearns of the West Virginia State Police said Wednesday. “I couldn’t make this stuff…
Posted: Thu May 17, 2007.   Comments (8)

Whiskey Floats on Water — This YouTube video demonstrates a physics trick right out of high-school science -- how to take a glass of water and a glass of whiskey and swap their contents, without using a third glass. It relies on the principle that whiskey is lighter than water and will float on top of it. The funny part is not the video, which is fairly straightforward, but rather the comments left by YouTube viewers, many of whom seem to think the video must have been faked. I guess they weren't paying…
Posted: Thu May 17, 2007.   Comments (8)

Quick Links: Fake Zebras, etc. — Fake Zebras A zoo in China is charging a small fee for posing beside horses painted with zebra stripes. The zoo assures the customers that it is 'just for fun'. Dressed Up Dead Fawn Left By Theatre "The police log entry said it all: "Deceased fawn was dressed up like an infant and abandoned at the Pantages Theater." The police have no idea who left the fawn or why, but they believe that the fawn had been stillborn and had died some time previously. Woman Pretends to be Pregnant -…
Posted: Wed May 16, 2007.   Comments (7)

Flipping: Is it a new prank or an old one? — The Wilmington, Delaware News Journal reports that there's a new prank that's all the rage in America's high schools. It's called backpack-flipping. The idea is simple. You take someone's backpack, remove all its contents, turn it inside out, and then restuff it with everything that was originally in there. Students are divided on whether or not this is amusing: Sophomore Tim Southerland, whose backpack has been flipped 15 times, thinks backpack-flipping is "like a drug." "There are…
Posted: Tue May 15, 2007.   Comments (15)


Fake Attack at Elementary School — Sixty-nine elementary students from Scales Elementary School got quite a scare during a recent field trip to Fall Creek Falls. Their teachers told them that a gunman was on the loose in the area: The students were told to lie on the floor or crawl underneath tables and keep quiet. The lights went out, and about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said. Some held hands and shook. “I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ ” Shay said Saturday afternoon as she recounted the incident. “At…
Posted: Tue May 15, 2007.   Comments (16)

How much of the legend of the 17th-Century tulipmania is true? — The tulip craze that hit Holland in the seventeenth century is arguably the most famous financial bubble in all of history. According to the popular account of what happened, prices for tulips began to go through the roof in 1636 as word spread that wealthy people were willing to pay huge sums of money for tulips. Soon the general population joined in the speculative fervor, many people using their life savings in order to buy bulbs, believing they could resell them at windfall…
Posted: Mon May 14, 2007.   Comments (13)

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code — Did escaping slaves fleeing from the South in the pre-Civil War era use secret codes woven into quilts to communicate with each other and guide them on their journey? That is the premise of the quilt-code theory, first popularized in a 1998 book written by Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard, Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. A National Geographic article from 2004 elaborates on the theory: A plantation seamstress would sew a sampler quilt…
Posted: Sat May 12, 2007.   Comments (15)

Mirror-Magnified Moonlight — A couple out in Arizona, Richard and Monica Chapin, have built a moonlight magnifier (or, as they call it, an "interstellar light collector"). Exposure to concentrated lunar rays, they claim, can have all kinds of positive medical benefits. They hope it may even heal cancer. It cost them over $2 million to build the thing. According to their website, starlightuses.com, here's how the machine works: The Interstellar Light Collector rotates a full 360 degrees, and can be aligned with…
Posted: Sat May 12, 2007.   Comments (18)

The Great Goldfish Hoax — It began with a classified ad in the Fresno Bee: "Found: Large, obese goldfish. Approx 11yrs old, blind as a bat." The ad, placed by Lori Igasan, ran for a week, starting March 16, and soon attracted a lot of attention, especially after David Letterman talked about it on his show. Igasan explained to reporters that she had just walked out of her house one day, when she happened to notice a large goldfish lying on her front lawn. Immediately she ran inside to place it in an aquarium…
Posted: Fri May 11, 2007.   Comments (15)

Colour-Changing Card Trick — This trick is quite an interesting little demonstration of misdirection. I shan't say more, so as to not give it away, but keep your eyes peeled - there is more to this than just one trick. (Thanks, Nettie and David B.)
Posted: Thu May 10, 2007.   Comments (17)

Crushing Crane Weights — In this video a pair of crane weights falls on a car, completely crushing it. The odds of someone capturing this scene on video as they're driving down a street suggest that it must be fake, but it's a pretty well done fake. A professional agency must have created it. (via Digg) var FO_245 =…
Posted: Wed May 09, 2007.   Comments (12)

Catching Sunglasses — Here's a youtube video of a guy who catches sunglasses on his face. The sunglasses are dropped from a house, from a bridge, and thrown at him as he passes by in a car. Yeah, it's obviously fake. But it's kind of amusing.
Posted: Wed May 09, 2007.   Comments (10)

Did Hillary Clinton Participate in a Menstrual Synchrony Study? — One of the stranger rumors I encountered in the course of writing Elephants on Acid was the suggestion that Hillary Clinton participated in a menstrual synchrony study while she was a student at Wellesley College during the 1960s. Stranger still, I haven't been able to disprove this. Here are the facts. In 1968, Martha McClintock, while a senior at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, convinced all 135 of her dormmates to participate in a study of the phenomenon of synchronous…
Posted: Tue May 08, 2007.   Comments (7)

Prom Babies — The latest trend among teenage girls is, apparently, to have a "prom baby." The idea is that girls try to get pregnant on prom night. This sneaky tactic allows them to avoid the pressure of going to college. Instead they substitute the pressure of raising a child. This trend was reported by a "Worried Dad" who recently wrote in to Dear Abby. He writes: I first heard about it while driving my teenage daughter to a lacrosse meet with several of her girlfriends. One girl in the car,…
Posted: Tue May 08, 2007.   Comments (23)

Gnome News — Some gnome stories that have been in the news lately: Gnome Abuse On April 13 more than twenty gnomes were found around the town of Seaford, taped to lamp-posts, covered in fake blood, with macabre messages written on them, and some with forks and axes embedded in their heads. Police have now identified those responsible for this gruesome scene. The police sergeant said, "We have established that the little fellows were bought by some high spirited youngsters who disfigured them with…
Posted: Tue May 08, 2007.   Comments (7)

PC World’s Top 25 Web Hoaxes — PC World writer Steve Bass compiled a list of the Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks. Here's the list (minus Bass's commentary): The Accidental Tourist Sick Kid Needs Your Help Bill Gates Money Giveaway Five-Cent E-Mail Tax Nigerian 419 E-Mail Scam Kidney Harvesting Time You've Got Virus! Microsoft Buys Firefox The Really Big Kitty $250 Cookie Recipe Free Vacation Courtesy of Disney Sunset Over Africa Alien Autopsy at Roswell, New Mexico Real-Time GPS Cell Phone Tracking Apollo Moon Landing…
Posted: Sat May 05, 2007.   Comments (3)

GreenTeaGirlie — David Sarno at the LA Times uncovers a web of deception surrounding a recent YouTube sensation called GreenTeaGirlie. It all started in late March when a 10-second video of a young woman introducing herself became one of the most-watched videos on YouTube. Why was this video so popular, many people wondered. After all, it wasn't very remarkable. Was she another lonelygirl15? Soon after, two related websites appeared: greenteagirlie.com and kallieannie.com. The first site,
Posted: Fri May 04, 2007.   Comments (12)

Quick Links: Jesus on Google Maps, etc. — Jesus on Google Maps Brian Martin claims that he saw the shape of Jesus in the clouds above Mount Sinai. (Thanks, Madmouse.) Cat Gives Birth to 'Puppy' Following on from the Japanese poodle scam hoax, this made me laugh. A cat in Zhengzhou, China has supposedly given birth to a litter of four, one of which looks like a poodle. There are no pictures to accompany the article, however. (Thanks, Robert.) Sexism in Tetris It seems a lot of people didn't realise the April 1st post on this…
Posted: Wed May 02, 2007.   Comments (6)

Japanese Poodle Scam Revealed as Hoax — The Japanese poodle scam - wherein thousands of gullible buyers were sold lambs instead of the dogs they were expecting - was first reported in UK Sun newspaper. The story went that rich women were buying cut-price poodles from a company named Poodles For Pets, and were astonished to find later that they were sheep. The story itself was immediately dubious (aside from being in The Sun, which tends to be somewhat lax in the fact-checking department), when you consider snippets like:
Posted: Wed May 02, 2007.   Comments (5)

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