Hoax Museum Blog Posts: June 2007

Best of the Forum – 15th June 07 — Artist fools punters into buying tins of cheap plaster… (David B.) Tins of Italian artist Piero Manzoni’s excrement, sold as art to collectors for thousands of pounds, have been in the news recently, as it seems that they may contain nothing more than plaster. A spokeswoman at the Tate museum in London insisted that the revelation did not invalidate the tin as a work of art. “Keeping the viewer in suspense is part of the work’s subversive humour,” she said. The world’s most famous…
Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2007.   Comments (2)

Salt Lake City UFO — On Wednesday many residents of Salt Lake City thought they saw a UFO. A mysterious blimp-like object floated over the city for a while and then disappeared. Someone with a video camera caught it on film. Local air traffic controllers said that they didn't pick up any object on their radar. If you look at the video, it seems pretty obvious that it's some kind of man-made blimp. Nevertheless, witnesses were quick to speculate that it was some kind of massive 100-foot-long…
Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2007.   Comments (2)

Historical Hoaxes Quiz — Test your knowledge of hoaxes. David Emery, About.com's Urban Legends and Folklore guide, has posted a pop quiz about Historical Hoaxes and Fallacies. I got 15 out of 15, a perfect score. Woo Hoo! (It would have been kind of embarrassing if I had gotten any wrong, though there was one question about what Neil Armstrong said when he first stepped onto the surface of the moon that I had to think about for a while.)
Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2007.   Comments (18)

Winner and Loser Lane — The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the Lane family from New York City in which the father named one of his sons Winner and the other Loser. (Actually, the article is a few years old, but it was new to me.) At first the article struck me as sounding too weird to be true. Why would a father name his son Loser? But apparently it's true. At least, it's been reported elsewhere by credible sources, such as in this Slate.com article by the Freakonomics authors. The story is that the…
Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2007.   Comments (12)


Phantom Vibration Syndrome — Many cellphone users are reporting that they often feel their cellphone vibrating, when it's not vibrating at all. The phenomenon is being called Phantom Vibration Syndrome (an allusion, I assume, to Phantom Limb Syndrome, in which amputees feel sensations in their missing limbs). Psychologists attribute these phantom vibrations to cellphone users' brains becoming over-alert to the sensation of vibration, and therefore experiencing false alarms: Alejandro Lleras, a sensation and…
Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2007.   Comments (16)

Did Jefferson Invent Macaroni and Cheese? — Rumor has it that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, could include, among his many other accomplishments, inventing macaroni and cheese (one of my favorite foods). The wikipedia entry for mac and cheese mentions this rumor: According to more than one urban legend, macaroni and cheese was invented by Thomas Jefferson, who, in the variant told by Alton Brown of Good Eats, upon failing to receive an Italian pasta-making machine, designed his own machine, made the…
Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2007.   Comments (8)

Quick Links: Dog Gives Birth to Kitten, etc. — Dog Gives Birth to Kitten A dog in a Chinese village has allegedly given birth to a litter that included what looks like a kitten. “Local residents have been flocking to his house to see the 'kitten' which local vets say is really a puppy which looks like a cat because of a gene mutation. It apparently yaps like a puppy.” Whether or not the photo that accompanies the article is actually a picture of the litter is uncertain. (Thanks, Sarah.) Is Des a Feline Record Breaker? Des, a cat…
Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2007.   Comments (16)

Fake Wedding Cakes — I've heard of renting wedding dresses, but I'd never heard of renting the wedding cake. But apparently renting fake wedding cakes is becoming increasingly popular. Here's how it works: The idea is to have an elegant, multitiered pretend cake for show while serving guests slices from a real, tasty and inexpensive sheet cake. The inside of a faux wedding cake crafted by Fun Cakes in Grandville contains mostly plastic foam, with a secret spot reserved for a slice of real cake to be shared…
Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2007.   Comments (9)

Paris Hilton Lives! — In the past few days, several hoaxes have been circulating on the internet about Paris Hilton. The first claims that she was stabbed in jail. The second suggests that she committed suicide. The appearance of these hoaxes was rather predictable, given the media circus surrounding her time in jail. The method of operation of both hoaxes was to disguise themselves as credible news sites. The "Paris Hilton was stabbed" story disguised itself as a CNN webpage. The "Paris Hilton committed…
Posted: Wed Jun 13, 2007.   Comments (10)

God Metal Scam — Swindlers conned a Vietnamese businessman into buying $25,000 worth of "God Metal." Apparently, the existence of God Metal is an old folk legend in Vietnam. According to Thanh Nien News: ‘God metal’, also known as ‘black copper’, is almost a myth in Vietnam. Those who claim to have seen it say it is extremely heavy but floats in an iron bucket of water. In its vicinity glass shatters, matches and lighters do not ignite, iron nails are repelled, and gold turns white. The mark for the…
Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007.   Comments (4)

Breast-Milk Cheese — Le Petit Singly (it's a French-language website, but here's a translated version) claims to be a French farm that specializes in producing cheese out of "the mother's milk of woman." According to the blurb on their site, they've been doing this since 1947. They say that the breast-milk cheese has a caramel color and has a hint of hazelnut taste. Of course, I think it would be technically possible to make cheese out of breast milk. (Although this woman in Indonesia reports that she…
Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007.   Comments (21)

Best of the Forum – 8th June 07 — Man blames health drink for unwanted erection (Bebelicious) New Yorker Christopher Woods underwent surgery in 2004 for severe priapism – an erection that would not subside. Now he’s suing pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, claiming that their nutritional drink, Boost Plus, was the cause of his condition. Can’t remember the name of a song? Try tapping it on your keyboard! (DJ_Canada) This programme allows you to tap the melody of a song using your space bar to try to identify it.…
Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007.   Comments (10)

Faces in Trees — I was inspired by the news story about the mayor's face in a tree to search out other examples of faces in trees. I knew that stories about faces in trees pop up regularly in the news, but to my knowledge no one had ever collected these stories together in one place. So it seemed like an appropriate thing to waste a couple of hours doing. I posted the results in the hoaxipedia. It's more faces in trees than you can shake a stick at.
Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007.   Comments (0)

Mayor Appears on Tree — Donald Stephens, Mayor of Rosemont in Illinois for fifty-one years, died on April 18. But now he's come back. On a tree. The Chicago Tribune reports that: Eerily, a likeness of the late mayor's face has appeared on a tree outside the village-owned health club, according to some people who have seen it. In a town still grieving for the larger-than-life mayor, who died April 18, the mysterious image is sure to add to the Stephens mystique. I find it amazing that people think it's the…
Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007.   Comments (13)

The Viagra Oyster Email Hoax — George May had a clever idea: Let oysters soak in a solution of Viagra for a while, and then sell them as Viagra Oysters. Of course, Pfizer is objecting to this use of its drug, and food-safety officials don't like the idea of selling purposefully contaminated oysters. But still, May is confident he's got a successful product on his hands, and his idea has received quite a lot of media attention. So it pleased him, but didn't surprise him, when he received the following email from…
Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007.   Comments (8)

Flip This House Fake — My wife is a big fan of all the home-design shows that are on TV, so I end up watching a lot of them also, including "Flip This House" on A&E. The show follows people who buy homes, remodel them, and then try to sell them for a higher price. It can be entertaining, but I wasn't surprised to read that at least one of the house flippers featured on the show, Atlanta businessman Sam Leccima, was a fake: McGee and others say Leccima's episodes of Flip This House, A&E's most popular show,…
Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007.   Comments (4)

Jumping Germans — Inspired by the urban legend that if all the people in China jumped at once it would alter the orbit of the Earth, German scientists (working in participation with a German TV show) staged an experiment at a music festival. They arranged for all 50,000 people at the concert to jump at once, and then measured the results. They called it a "gang boing." Here's what happened: In the end, the hoppers created "a mini-mini-earthquake," according to Ulrich Grünewald, who produced the segment…
Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007.   Comments (4)

Intention Experiments — Writer Lynne McTaggart has been sponsoring a number of "experiments" to promote her book The Intention Experiment, in which she makes the argument (from what I can surmise without actually having read the book) that we can influence the world around us through our intentions. If we want something to happen, we merely intend for it to happen. Here's a description of the first three experiments: The first experiment was an enormous success when 400 people sat in a hall in London and…
Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007.   Comments (22)

The Hoaxipedia — The software that I use to run this site comes with a "wiki module," which allows the capability to add a wikipedia-style encyclopedia to the site. For the past few weeks I've been working on getting this feature working. It's still very much a work-in-progress, but I think it's at a point where I can let everyone see it. I'm calling it the Hoaxipedia. I'm slowly transferring all of the content contained in the various "galleries" of the museum into the Hoaxipedia. It's going to be a…
Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007.   Comments (4)

JumpSnap Ropeless Jump Rope — One year ago I posted about an inventor, Lester Clancy, who had filed a patent for a ropeless jump rope. I noted that a jump rope that lacked a rope seemed to defeat the purpose of a jump rope. You might as well just jump up and down holding a pair of dumbbells. But now a company has come out with a commercial version of a cordless jump rope. They're calling it the JumpSnap. They claim that it's the "world's first and only patent-pending computerized ropeless jump rope." The inventor…
Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2007.   Comments (7)

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