The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
September 2008
Will the sun rise for 36 hours on October 17, 2008? — A very strange astronomical rumor is circulating: Coming October 17, 2008 the sun will rise continuously for 36 hrs (1.5 days). During this time the US countries will be dark for 1.5 days. It will convert 3 days into 2 big days. It will happen once in 2400 yrs. We're very lucky to see this. Forward it to all your friends. This rumor appears to have come from India, so it means to say that the sun will rise for 36 hours over India, and the Americas will be dark for the same amount of…
Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008.   Comments (48)

Is Bank of America cancelling the majority of its customers’ credit cards? — This rumor is going around: BoA to close credit cards for approximately 60% of customers? "I work in Credit Department at BoA (Senior Level Credit Analysist Boa Bldg 3rd fl, Char, NC). We just received memo indicating that all BoA credit cards are being closed as of 10/1. Credit score and income do not matter, all accounts are closed as of 10/1." Executive VP Bank of America "This is true, but not as bad as he/she says. We are closing accounts, but only ones with credit scores under…
Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008.   Comments (29)

McCain wins debate that hasn’t happened yet — Apparently John McCain's campaign has access to the same time machine used by the Chinese journalists at Xinhua News who reported the launch of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft (including the astronaut's dialogue) hours before it happened. (See previous post.) McCain's campaign has been running an ad in the Wall Street Journal's online edition declaring that "McCain Wins Debate," which is a bold assertion considering that the debate will only happen tonight. Link: Washington Post
Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008.   Comments (6)

Fake reporting of Shenzhou VII launch — China recently launched its third manned mission to space. Oddly, the Xinhua news agency reported the launch hours before it occurred. This would be understandable -- news agencies routinely prepare copy about major stories in advance of the event itself -- but the article included detailed dialogue between the astronauts: "One minute to go!' 'Changjiang No.1 found the target! ... "The firm voice of the controller broke the silence of the whole ship. Now, the target is captured 12…
Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008.   Comments (2)


Students told aliens have landed — Strange "educational" stunts perpetrated by school authorities appear to be a growing trend. We had: 1) The Fake Attack at an Elementary School. (Students were told there was a gunman loose in the area in order to teach them how to respond in case a gunman ever really was loose in the area.) 2) Your classmate has died -- but not really. (Students were told that one of their classmates had died in a drunk-driving accident in order to teach them about the evils of drunk driving.) But…
Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008.   Comments (6)

Writers are skeptical of $250,000 prize — An article in SFGate.com describes how the owners of FieldReport.com devised what they thought was a sure-fire way to generate interest in their literary site. They decided to offer a "$250,000 prize for whichever short nonfiction piece received the highest ranking from the site's users by Jan. 1, 2009. A series of $1,000 qualifying prizes would be awarded in the months leading up to the quarter-million-dollar payout." Problem is, no one believed them. "We got this dead-face,…
Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008.   Comments (1)

Adventures in Astroturf — Margriet Oostveen describes in Salon.com how she composed phony letters-to-the-editor on behalf of the McCain campaign: The assignment is simple: We are going to write letters to the editor and we are allowed to make up whatever we want -- as long as it adds to the campaign. After today we are supposed to use our free moments at home to create a flow of fictional fan mail for McCain. "Your letters," says Phil Tuchman, "will be sent to our campaign offices in battle states. Ohio.…
Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008.   Comments (4)

Eye of Sauron Prank — Pranksters at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recently added the Eye of Sauron to the McFarland Memorial Bell Tower. The tower looks like it was designed to host it. The Daily Illini reports that those responsible for placing the Eye on the tower remain unknown.
Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008.   Comments (7)

Phony 9/11 Photos — Recently the Delray Beach Public Library arranged an exhibition of photographs taken by 71-year-old Milt Goldstein. The pictures were taken immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and showed rescue workers searching for victims. Goldstein told anyone willing to listen how he had gained access to ground zero by buying an NYPD hat and jacket from a vendor on Canal Street. Goldstein was offering to sell individual pictures for prices ranging from $200 to $350. But it turned…
Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008.   Comments (5)

Fake caterpillar fungus — Chinese food inspectors have issued a warning to those planning to buy caterpillar fungus: Many samples of caterpillar fungus have been replaced by fakes. These fakes "not only miss their medicinal function, but could even be poisonous." According to Wikipedia, caterpillar fungus is one of the most prized ingredients in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine: it is used as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for a variety of ailments from fatigue to cancer. It is regarded as having…
Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008.   Comments (1)

McElhone in movie about James Barry — The Guardian reports that Natasha McElhone is slated to play Dr. James Barry in an upcoming film to be titled Heaven and Earth. Barry was the nineteenth-century British woman who disguised herself as a man in order to become a doctor. (See my post from earlier this year.) The film is apparently focusing on the rumored romance between Barry and Lord Somerset: James Purefoy, recently seen as Mark Antony in the TV series Rome, will play Lord Somerset, a diplomat who sacrifices his…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (1)

Weird Fragrances — I stumbled across this site, weirdfragrances.com (I'm not linking directly to them, so I won't boost their google rank), that promises to send you a free sample of cologne. In return you simply provide them with your email and mailing address, and promise to later answer a few questions about the fragrance. You can choose from a variety of offbeat scents such as Grease Monkey, Burning Rubber, or Ash Tray. Is it a legit offer? I would guess not. First, it strikes me as odd that the…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (2)

Heart’s Letter to John McCain — The following cease-and-desist letter, supposedly written by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart to John McCain, has started doing the rounds. Warning: NSFW language! Is it real? Well, the Wilsons did email out a statement asking the Republican campaign not to use their music, and in a phone interview, after the Republicans used their music anyway, Nancy Wilson said, "I feel completely f--ed over." However, the article above seems to be satire. It comes from Seattle's The Stranger…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (5)

Is Roger Ebert a Creationist? — Yesterday the film critic Roger Ebert posted an article to his website that reads very much like an endorsement of creationism. It starts: Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution: Q. When was the earth created? A. Archbishop James Usher, working out a chronology from the Bible, calculated in 1654 that the earth was created on the night of October 23, 4004 B.C. Other timetables reach back as far as 10,000…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (14)

Hoax Photo Database: Recent Additions — What I've added during the past week to the Hoax Photo Database: U.S. Army Releases Doctored Photographs Bob Owen of the San Antonio Express-News noticed that these two photos released by the U.S. Army of soldiers recently killed in Iraq were almost identical, except for the soldiers' face, name, and rank. Oswald's Backyard Photo This photo of Lee Harvey Oswald posing with a rifle in his backyard is one of the most hotly debated photos in history. Conspiracy theorists continue to argue…
Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2008.   Comments (0)

Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret — The Yale Center for British Art is hosting an exhibition about an obscure 18th-century art hoax (one that I had never heard of before). The exhibition is titled "Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret" -- which makes it sound a bit like a new Harry Potter novel. From Art Knowledge News: In 1796 Benjamin West, the American-born President of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, fell victim to a remarkable fraud. A shadowy figure, Thomas Provis, and his artist daughter, Ann Jemima Provis,…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Mystery Coffin — A woman walking her dog in the Welsh countryside recently found an empty coffin sitting in the middle of a field. The coffin had a note in it: "Jump in, you're next." No one knows who put the coffin there, but the likely suspects are local students since it's freshman week and there have been other pranks in the region, such as "a tree full of knickers and a young driver sticky taped into his car." Link: North Wales Chronicle
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (4)

Chi-Rho Amulet is a Fake — Researchers have determined that the Chi-Rho Amulet, found in Shepton Mallet in 1990, is a fake. When it was first discovered in a Roman grave eighteen years ago, it was thought to be the earliest Christian artifact ever found in Britain. Local residents were so excited by the discovery that they named an entertainment center and a street after it. But tests indicate that the silver in the amulet is of nineteenth-century origin. Suspicion is focusing on protesters who were opposed to…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Frenchman Collides Sacredly with Nessie — Frenchman Don Jean Habrey, whose stage name is Hors Humain (beyond human), has announced his intention to embark on a "sacred collision with Nessie." Specifically, he plans to dive into Loch Ness and "breathe with the monster to send ultimate breathing to the world of childhood.” Later, he'll make a Christmas Eve visit to the Loch and "conjure the mythical creature from the loch, with chants, drumming, burning flares and bonfires round the shore." “Nessie will breathe golden pearls…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (2)

Once a con artist, always a con artist — Tony Golossian is accused of repeatedly luring a woman to motels, where he then blindfolded and sexually assaulted her. He told her it was all part of a ritual to remove a "black magic" curse on her family. If she didn't agree to participate, her 15-year-old sister would supposedly develop breast cancer and her "fallopian tubes would no longer function." Adding insult to injury, the woman paid him almost $100,000 for these "prayer sessions." I hate to blame the victim, but is there…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (4)

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