Hoax Museum Blog Posts: September 2008

A fake horse dressed in PVC — Problem: the Cleveland Bay, the breed of horse used to pull the Queen's Royal carriage, was dying out. Solution: a fake horse dressed in PVC clothing which is being used to seduce the few stallions that remain. The fake horse is named "Doris." "The scientists who designed and built Doris quickly discovered her partner - much like certain humans - performed better if she wore PVC." That's another factoid to add to my ever-growing fund of useless trivia.
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (3)

Cat Hoaxes — Axonoid.com promises that they'll eventually have a list of 11 cat hoaxes. In part 1 they have five: Elvis the Robo-Cat Bonsai Kittens The one-eyed kitten (which was real!) Painted Cats Snowball the Monster Cat The article is worth a look if only to rewatch the video of Elvis the Robo-Cat.
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (3)

Pietro Psaier: Real or Hoax? — Pietro Psaier was an artist whose works fetch thousands of dollars. He was said to be a friend of Andy Warhol, which helps his saleability. But the question now perplexing the art world is whether Psaier ever actually existed. This, from the Telegraph, is the little that's known about his life: Information provided by an agent for the artist's estate states that Psaier was born in Italy in 1936 and died in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. He left Italy as a young man and went to…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (1)

Poe’s Law and TrueChristians.com — Poe's Law, coined by Nathan Poe on the Christian Forums site, states: in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they both sound equally ridiculous. The law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. Cranky Media Guy recently submitted an example: truechristian.com. It contains passages such as: So God put Adam to sleep and ripped out one of his ribs and behold, we find out that women…
Posted: Tue Sep 16, 2008.   Comments (5)


Bogus Crowd Estimates — It looks like the McCain campaign is playing the old political game of inventing inflated crowd estimates. They told reporters that 23,000 people attended a Sept. 10 rally. They attributed that estimate to a fire marshal. However, "Fairfax City Fire Marshal Andrew Wilson said his office did not supply that number to the campaign and could not confirm it." What's more, "Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher estimated the crowd to be 8,000, not the 23,000 cited by the campaign." But the…
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2008.   Comments (10)

Should websites be given trustworthiness ratings? — Sir Tim Berners-Lee is worried that there's too much disinformation floating around the web. He feels that there needs to be a way to rate sites according to how trustworthy they are. From the BBC: "On the web the thinking of cults can spread very rapidly and suddenly a cult which was 12 people who had some deep personal issues suddenly find a formula which is very believable," he said. "A sort of conspiracy theory of sorts and which you can imagine spreading to thousands of people and…
Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2008.   Comments (7)

Is Bra-Burning a Myth? — Bra-burning came to symbolize the feminist movement, but according to this article at pressofAtlanticCity.com, the original 1968 bra-burning protest, that first associated bra-burning with feminism, never actually happened. Members of New York Radical Women, upset by the Miss America Pageant's focus on women's physique and seeing an opportunity to publicize their cause, traveled to Atlantic City by bus. They wanted to burn things, as was in vogue then (people mad about other topics -…
Posted: Fri Sep 12, 2008.   Comments (12)

A Prank Renaissance — The Wall Street Journal's Ellen Gamerman has written an article about the resurgent popularity of pranks. But the pranks aren't aimed at making fun of anything. Instead, their only goal seems to be to introduce an element of the surreal into everyday life. Examples include: "Freezing" events: people pose like statues in public places. going pantless in subways staging impromptu musicals in malls pretending to be zombies and roaming city streets crowds of people dancing to music no one…
Posted: Fri Sep 12, 2008.   Comments (10)

Anti-Theft Lunch Bag — Designed to deter sandwich thieves. Green splotches are printed on both sides: "After your sandwich is placed inside, no one will want to touch it." The bag was designed by Sherwood Forlee, who describes himself as "a designer with no design or art education." He also writes that he "calls himself a designer because it sounds hip and no one likes hanging around a nerd at a party." One of his other inventions is a "Vaginal Simulator," which isn't a sex toy. "Rather, it is one of the…
Posted: Fri Sep 12, 2008.   Comments (6)

Ken Campbell and the Royal Dickens Company — Ken Campbell recently died at the age of 66. The Telegraph's obituary describes him as "an actor, writer and director of wilful eccentricity" who worked in experimental theater. However, he was perhaps best known for a hoax he pulled off in 1980, when he sent around letters announcing that the Royal Shakespeare Company was renaming itself the Royal Dickens Company. I couldn't find a good description of this hoax online (and, unfortunately, I've never gotten around to writing one up...…
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (6)

It’s Right-Sizing, not Down-Sizing — Media Agency Carat recently decided to lay off some of its employees. PowerPoint and Word documents somehow leaked out detailing how management planned to inform employees and clients of the decision. They offer an example of corporate b.s. at its finest. Details include: • The agency wasn't going to be down-sizing. Instead, the documents repeatedly described the moves as a "right-sizing" of the agency. • Clients were to be informed of the "staffing change" with this script: "Mary…
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (11)

Will one be wanting fries with that? — This is obviously fake. For a start, the smoothness of the arms don't match the age of the face. And then there's the more obvious clue. Still, I thought it was amusing. I think it first appeared a month ago on the b3ta message boards.
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (14)

Darwin Smudge Draws Evolutionists — I couldn't resist linking to this piece from The Onion: A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton... Despite the enthusiasm the so-called "Darwin Smudge" has generated among the evolutionary faithful, disagreement remains as to its origin. Some…
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2008.   Comments (6)

Do hoaxes tell us anything about the character of their victims? — On the New York Times opinion page Stanley Fish recently offered some thoughts about the Wine Spectator hoax, comparing it to the Sokal hoax of the 1990s. After musing about the two hoaxes, he draws this lesson about hoaxes in general: a hoax that is sufficiently and painstakingly elaborated can deceive anyone if the conditions are favorable. This means that the success of a hoax reflects on the skill of the hoaxer and says nothing about the substantive views of those who were fooled…
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2008.   Comments (8)

Real Shark Surfing — A few months ago I posted a phony video showing a guy on a surfboard being towed by a shark. It now looks like that video was a case of satirical prophecy, because a guy in Australia is reporting that something similar happened to him in real life. From news.com.au: A SURFER says a large shark towed him out to sea like a "powerful jet ski' after it became entangled in the leg rope of his surfboard. John Morgan said the thrashing animal dragged him more than 50m after it became ensnared…
Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2008.   Comments (2)

Hoax Photo Database: Recent Additions — I've been a bit lazy about posting on the blog for the past few days, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on the site! I've actually been adding lots of content to the Hoax Photo Database. Here are a few of the photos I've added recently: The Vanishing Belly Button Back in 1964 the LA Times ran an ad for Scandinavian Airlines showing a blonde model posing on top of a rock. Strangely, the Times felt the need to remove the model's belly button... because a belly button might…
Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008.   Comments (6)

The Telegraph’s Memorable Photo Fakes — The Telegraph recently came out with a list of "20 memorable picture fakes." And the Museum of Hoaxes is listed as one of the sources they used to do their research... along with a few of the other usual suspects. It strikes me as a bit of a random list. They leave out some classics, such as the Surgeon's Photo (which I would think would be in the top 10 or 20 on any list of famous picture fakes) as well as National Geographic's cover on which they moved the pyramids, but they include…
Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008.   Comments (3)

Big Footprint Found — Harold Jackson, a resident of Cookeville, Tennessee, found an indentation on a rock on his property. It looks vaguely like a footprint... a very big footprint. 11 inches across and 15 inches long. The article says he took it home. (I assume he must have made a cast of it and taken that home.) The surprising thing is that he doesn't think it's a Bigfoot print, though his friends do. He thinks it's a footprint of a Native American. So how tall would this Native American have been if…
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2008.   Comments (28)

Fleeing Purse Snatcher Drops Breast — Police in Port St. Lucie are on the lookout for a cross-dressing purse snatcher who accidentally dropped a condom filled with water after grabbing a 74-year-old woman's purse. He had been using the condom as a fake breast. That's weird enough. What I can't understand is why he was using a water-filled condom. Wouldn't a regular balloon have worked better? Though questioning the fashion decisions of a cross-dressing purse snatcher is surely an exercise in pointlessness.
Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2008.   Comments (6)

Caps for Charity — Another case of the Collecting Junk for Charity hoax. Aleta Brace of Parkersburg, West Virginia collected 20,000 bottle caps, believing that the caps could be redeemed for money which would aid cancer patients. And she wasn't alone. Churches, schools, businesses, and individuals throughout West Virginia have been collecting the bottle caps all summer. The caps would all have gone to waste, but now the Aveda skin care company has announced it'll take the caps and recycle them into new…
Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2008.   Comments (7)

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