Hoax Museum Blog Posts: June 2009

The South American Reetsa Expedition — If you're well-versed in hoax lore, you might have heard the story of the South American Reetsa Expedition. It's a hoax attributed to the New York City prankster Brian G. Hughes, who was active as a hoaxer from around 1895 to 1910. (He died in 1924.) He pulled off quite a few hoaxes. Around 1895 he submitted a cat to the New York cat show, claiming it was a rare breed known as the Dublin Brindle. After it won a prize, he revealed it was just an alley cat. A few years later he tried a…
Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009.   Comments (6)

Pareidolia Roundup (June 2009) — Virgin Mary Air Conditioner Antonia Ruiz of Texas noticed a stain on her air conditioner that looked to her like the Virgin Mary. Therefore, she built a shrine around the air conditioner. Cheeto Jesus A bag of Cheetos bought by Dan Bell at a North Texas gas station yielded this "praying Jesus". The couple have nicknamed it "Cheesus." (Note: there was a similar Cheesus in the news last year.) Tortilla Jesus Lloyd Osborne's wife had thrown away the packet of tortillas, but he…
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2009.   Comments (13)

Online Pseuicides — Howard Swains recently reported in Wired on the phenomenon of fake online deaths. He writes: Many online tales of death and suffering are works of complete fiction, "pseuicides" dressed up as real-life catastrophes. Some are contrived to titillate or garner attention, some result from something more serious, and some are the result of a uniquely modern psychiatric disorder known as Munchausen by internet. And: In two investigations between 2007 and 2009, I encountered countless…
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2009.   Comments (7)

Fooled by Crunchberries — This case sounded so stupid to me that at first I thought it had to be a joke, but here's the actual ruling, Sugawara v. PepsiCo, Inc., so apparently it's true. Janine Sugawara filed suit against PepsiCo, maker of Cap'n Crunch's CrunchBerries, alleging she had been deceived by their marketing into believing that crunchberries were real fruit, only to learn, to her dismay, that the product contained "no berries of any kind." The judge threw the case out, noting, "The survival of the…
Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2009.   Comments (10)


Are senior pranks a disappearing tradition? — The Dallas Morning News worries that in many Texas schools the senior prank is a fast disappearing tradition. The reasons for its departure: high-tech security and stricter discipline standards. One senior is quoted as saying, "Maybe we'd do something if there weren't cameras everywhere and punishments weren't so crazy." Well, it's not disappearing everywhere. This year students at Fort Walton Beach High School slipped the "F word" into the yearbook by spelling it out in red letters…
Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009.   Comments (7)

Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bum Attack” Hoax — The highlight of Sunday night's MTV Movie Awards came when Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed up as Austrian fashion reporter Bruno, floated across the room on wires, but then somehow fell and landed face down in Eminem's lap (his butt in Eminem's face). Subsequently Eminem stormed out of the show. The award show's head comedy writer, Scott Aukerman, is now admitting it was not a spontaneous mishap. The entire scene was choreographed and rehearsed. In fact, Paris Hilton had reportedly been
Posted: Tue Jun 02, 2009.   Comments (8)

Oprah, the Queen of Quackery — In the forum Captain Al linked to a recent Newsweek article that's well worth reading. It details how Oprah Winfrey has routinely promoted dubious medical/pseudoscientific nonsense on her show. It appears that the only standard of evidence important to her is whether a claim is emotionally appealing. If a claim passes that test, then it must be true! Some of the nonsense promoted on her show includes: Suzanne Somers' vitamin/hormone cure for aging. Jenny McCarthy's crusade to pin the…
Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009.   Comments (29)

Was Mancow really waterboarded? — Gawker devoted a series of posts last week to shockjock Erich Muller, aka Mancow. First they praised him for having undergone waterboarding so he could decide for himself whether or not it was torture. But then they obtained a series of emails from Mancow's publicist suggesting the entire thing was a hoax, that Mancow faked being waterboarded. Mancow insists the waterboarding wasn't faked, despite what his publicist's email may suggest. Apparently there's no video of the event, which…
Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009.   Comments (8)

Britains Got Talent… and Ghosts — People who spend far too much time staring closely at the TV have identified an extremely small, blurry dark shape that appears to move rapidly across the stage during a semi-final performance on Britains Got Talent. (Embedding is disabled on this video, so you've got to go to YouTube itself.) It took me a while to even be able to see the "ghost." It starts at 0:51, at the right side of the stage. By 0:53 it's gone, darting off the left side of the stage. (Warning: it's really, really…
Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009.   Comments (8)

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