The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
December 2008
Another fake Holocaust memoir — The Curse of Oprah Winfrey has struck again. The Curse is that anyone who appears on her show to tell about their painful yet inspiring personal history, later is revealed to be completely full of BS. People who make multiple appearances on her show are even more likely to be struck by the curse. The latest flap is that Herman Rosenblat and his wife, who claimed to have met when he was a child in the Buchenwald concentration camp and she was a town girl who would throw food over the…
Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008.   Comments (37)

Public Urination Permitted — Pranksters have placed signs in various places around Nottingham stating: "Public Urination Permitted After 7.30pm". The Nottingham City Council wants everyone to know that the signs are not telling the truth: "It is an offence to urinate in public and these signs have been put up illegally, for whatever reason." This prank is basically the opposite of one I reported on over a year ago in which pranksters placed signs in public lavatories that read: "Think Green. Think Safe. Do you…
Posted: Wed Dec 24, 2008.   Comments (3)

Animals That Lie — A NY Times article about the biology of deceit notes that among primates there's "a direct relationship between sneakiness and brain size." It offers this story: chimpanzees or orangutans in captivity sometimes tried to lure human strangers over to their enclosure by holding out a piece of straw while putting on their friendliest face. “People think, Oh, he likes me, and they approach,” Dr. de Waal said. “And before you know it, the ape has grabbed their ankle and is closing in for the…
Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008.   Comments (10)

New York Times Hoaxed — The NY Times apologized for printing an email from the Mayor of Paris in which he criticized Caroline Kennedy's bid for Clinton's senate seat. You see, it's easy to put a fake email address in the "From" field, so it's the Times's policy to always check that the person who seems to have sent them an email actually did so. But they didn't do that in this case, and now the Mayor is denying he wrote the email. The Times is "reviewing procedures" to make sure something like this doesn't…
Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008.   Comments (2)


What you need for a fake Christmas — An inflatable santa outside, artificial spray-on snow frosting the window, a plastic Christmas tree standing in the corner, and round out the mood by slipping a hi-def fireplace video into the DVD player.
Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008.   Comments (0)

Jackalope Sausage — From Cabela's you can buy actual Jackalope Sausage: The jackalope is nearly impossible to find, yet, we've successfully located the elusive animal and captured its wonderful flavoring. Jackalope (i.e. antelope, rabbit and beef) are mixed together and smoked slowly for mouth-watering results. An amusing gift for the skeptic and believer alike. Contains three 6-oz. "jackalope" summer sausages. Eating this would be kind of contrary to the idea of trying to Save the Jackalope.…
Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008.   Comments (2)

The Pimping Game — How to play the "pimping" game: Print a fake license plate on glossy paper using license-plate-like fonts downloaded off the web. Tape this fake license plate over your real license plate. Then purposefully speed in an area where you'll get photographed by speed cameras. Whoever owns the license-plate-number you faked will then get mailed a ticket. If you really want to get fancy, make sure the car you're driving is similar to the car you want to prank. Police report that kids are…
Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2008.   Comments (5)

The Airbrushed Asian — When Scottish tourism officials first unveiled the promotional poster for next year's Homecoming Scotland campaign (whose purpose is to get people of Scottish descent to visit the homeland), people looked at it and remarked, "You know, not everyone in Scotland is white." So a second version of the poster was sneaked out, with one small change: an Asian guy had been photoshopped in. (He's on the left side of the bottom image). But most people seem to think the change is even worse than…
Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2008.   Comments (10)

Scams in the News — I'm sure everyone has heard by now of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi Scheme, which is being described as the biggest scam in Wall Street history. It's already old news. So here are some other scam-related links: • Slate offers a brief Guide to Financial Scams, explaining the difference between a Ponzi Scheme and a Pyramid Scheme. (Ponzi schemes funnel money to a single person; pyramid schemes distribute the money among a larger group of people.) • The Wall Street Journal tells…
Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Bigfoot Ornament — Two years ago I made my own hoax-themed Christmas tree ornaments. But that was before I discovered Bronner's sells Bigfoot tree ornaments. So yeah, I had to buy one.
Posted: Fri Dec 19, 2008.   Comments (7)

Rectal Exam Prank Caller — John Brady has been charged with second-degree aggravated harassment for calling random people and trying to convince them to perform a rectal exam over the phone. He got at least one person to do this. His modus operandi: "I would go through the phone book and pick random numbers and make telephone calls." Then he would ask them personal questions about their digestive system, and try to get them to follow his instructions. Prank calls of this nature (and victims dumb enough to fall…
Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008.   Comments (4)

Helix High Hoax — Yesterday (Tuesday) there was a helicopter buzzing around in the sky outside my window for about half an hour. I was speculating what it might be: bank robbery, accident, men in black? No, turns out it was just a local, neighborhood hoax. (I live about 2 blocks from Helix High School in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb): A report of an armed man at Helix High School that prompted a lockdown on the campus Tuesday was a student hoax, police said. An investigation by school staff and the La…
Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2008.   Comments (5)

Scottish Urban Legends — Dani Garavelli, writing for Scotsman.com, examines the psychology of urban legends. The article doesn't offer any new insights into urban legends. There's the standard observation: urban legends "hold a mirror up to our culture, giving us an often unflattering reflection of our preoccupations and prejudices." But what I found interesting is that the article listed some urban legends specific to Scotland: For several days, [north-east Scotland] was gripped by a rumour that pop star and…
Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008.   Comments (9)

Las Vegas does not allow atheists to perform wedding ceremonies — Apparently in Las Vegas pretty much anyone can get a license to perform weddings -- Elvis impersonators, faux Liberaces, etc. -- except atheists. The rules are that in order to get a license you need to have ties to a congregation. The congregation can be as small as two people. But still, that's the rule. If you're not willing to lie and invent some kind of pseudo-religion that you're a member of, as atheist Michael Jacobson was unwilling to do, then you're barred from performing…
Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008.   Comments (19)

Fake Taj Mahal — A film director in Bangladesh has announced plans to build an exact replica of the Taj Mahal. He's going to use the same marble and stone as the original, but to save time he's using machinery (rather than thousands of peasant workers) to construct it. His reason for building it: "Everyone dreams about seeing the Taj Mahal but very few Bangladeshis can make the trip because it's too expensive for them." All of this has upset officials in India who have threatened to sue for copyright…
Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008.   Comments (6)

Better translator needed — Respected academic journal wants to decorate its cover with elegant classical Chinese poetry. Journal editors -- who can't read Chinese -- don't realize they're actually placing an ad for a brothel on the cover. Embarrassment and retraction of cover follows. The journal was the MaxPlanckForschung journal. The text apparently advertised "burlesque acts by pretty-as-jade housewives with hot bodies for the daytime visitor"... emphasizing their "enchanting and coquettish performance". The…
Posted: Wed Dec 10, 2008.   Comments (9)

World’s Largest Lamb Sculpture — Some guy named Bill Veall claims to have discovered the world's largest rock sculpture. It's somewhere in the Peruvian Andean mountains, and it's in the shape of a "sacred lamb". He says he found it by using satellite imaging techniques to search for ancient shapes and formations. I guess that rules out any possibility he's just seeing what he wants to see. (sarcasm) From Sky News: "Mr Veall, who studies the relationships between astronomy and archaeological monuments, has faced a…
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2008.   Comments (25)

Adobe on Facebook — Each week Adobe -- the creator of Photoshop -- will give you five images to test if you can differentiate between the real and the fake. I got them all right! WooHoo!
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2008.   Comments (3)

Black Dog Syndrome — Black Dog Syndrome is defined as "the propensity of dark-coated animals to be passed over for adoption [at animal shelters] in favor of their lighter counterparts." Reasons why the syndrome may exist: the age-old association of light with good and dark with evil; "Black dogs often don't photograph well. Facial features disappear, and animals can appear less expressive"; "black dogs sometimes fade away into the kennel shadows". And apparently black cats face the same problem as black…
Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2008.   Comments (10)

Is it healthy to pick your nose? — If you do a search on the web for information about rhinotillexis (aka nose picking) you'll soon run across references to Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, described as an Austrian lung specialist, who is quoted as saying that nose-picking combined with nasal mucus eating is a healthy habit: "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. "And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's…
Posted: Fri Dec 05, 2008.   Comments (7)

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