The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
November 2009
Misdiagnosed coma patient—is he really that coherent? — The Belgian man believed to be in a coma for 23 years, but recently found to be conscious, has been big news for the past few days. But now problems are emerging with the story. No one doubts that he's sentient, since MRI scans have confirmed this. But his ability to communicate is being questioned. Skeptics are questioning whether the statements attributed to him really are his, or do they come from his "facilitator" (a woman who holds his hand to help him type on a keyboard)? Doctors…
Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2009.   Comments (17)

Beware Fake Eggs From China! — Greg writes: Found this online - warning about fake chicken eggs, but it seems that eggs are too inexpensive to generate a profit by faking. Absolutely right. This email hoax about Chinese food counterfeiters mass producing fake eggs has been circulating for a number of years. There are posts debunking it on Boing Boing (2006), Consumerist (2007), and Hoax-Slayer (2007). What I find to be the most illogical part of the fake egg story is the claim that the counterfeiters are going…
Posted: Wed Nov 25, 2009.   Comments (14)

The Snail in the Ginger Beer — Two weeks ago I linked to a BBC article by Clive Coleman about the case of the carbolic smoke ball. He must be doing a series on interesting legal cases, because he's back with a great article about the legal case of the snail found in ginger beer. Quick summary — In 1928 May Donoghue claimed to find a snail in her bottle of ginger beer. Her complaint eventually helped bring about modern consumer protection laws in the UK. The catch: "to this day, no-one knows for sure if there ever…
Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009.   Comments (2)

Shroud of Turin back in the news — Earlier this year Barbara Frale made headlines by arguing that the Shroud of Turin was hidden for over 100 years by the Knights Templar. Now she's back, claiming to have found writing on the Shroud that identifies the figure as Jesus Christ. From startribune.com: Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, said Friday that she used computers to enhance images of faintly written words in Greek, Latin and Aramaic scattered across the shroud. She asserts the words include the name "Jesus…
Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009.   Comments (6)


Mass: We Pray — Mass: We Pray claims to be a new video game that allows you to simulate going to church, without ever leaving home. Shacknews.com reports receiving a press release from Prayer Works Interactive, the maker of this purported product. An excerpt follows: Mass: We Pray is the first of many worship-themed games in development for Prayer Works Interactive. Just like with any videogame, families can use a television as a monitor to play. Then, they can use the CROSS, a proprietary, wireless,…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (9)

Incompetent art forgers try to sell “Warhol” portrait of non-existent Baldwin brother — From the Salt Lake Tribune: According to charging documents, the couple agreed to sell another man six Andy Warhol art pieces for $100,000 in February 2008. The man was told that the subject of the art was Mathew Baldwin, purportedly one of the brothers in the family of actors. The pieces were signed and dated 1996. After giving the couple a down payment of $25,000, the man took the art to an appraiser in California. The appraiser informed the man the art was fake because there was no…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (6)

Swami Sleeps on Fire — Maybe this guy is wearing an asbestos robe. From the Times of India: When even a match stick singes the skin, is it possible for a human being to lie on fire for four hours, fully clothed and emerge unscathed, body and robe? Even fall asleep in the process? Ramababu Swamiji, 80, from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu,ostensibly did precisely that on Sunday morning when he slept on a homa fire and prayed for the well-being of the society, say his devotees at the Ghanagapur village in northern…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (5)

Elmer de Hory Movie — Another film about a famous hoaxer is in the works. Julian Temple plans to make a movie about the art forger Elmyr de Hory. From reuters: The British filmmaker will take on the story of art faker Elmyr de Hory, who created and sold forgeries of paintings by the likes of Picasso and Matisse to collectors around the world between the 1940s and 1960s. De Hory, a Hungarian native, told his story to the equally notorious hoax biographer Clifford Irving (played by Richard Gere in "The Hoax"…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (3)

Martin Smid; he’s still not dead! — November 17 was the 20th anniversary of the Czech "velvet revolution." One of the events that triggered it was the spread of a rumor alleging that mathematics student Martin Smid had been beaten to death by police. Smid, however, was very much alive, and he still is. To this day, he has no idea how his name got attached to the rumor. From agonist.org: After a bloody crackdown on a non-violent student march in Prague on November 17, 1989, a woman falsely claimed that the riot police had…
Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009.   Comments (5)

Polar Bear Simulacra — The St. Louis Zoo hasn't had much luck keeping its polar bears alive. From riverfronttimes.com: The zoo's last polar bear, Hope, was euthanized in April when veterinarians found it had cancer. In May 2005 another polar bear, named Churchill, ate a fatal helping of cloth and plastic inside its bin and died while undergoing stomach surgery. Five weeks later, a polar bear named Penny died at the zoo from infection. Turns out, she had two dead fetuses inside her uterus, though zoo…
Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2009.   Comments (8)

Airbrushed Babies — According to The Telegraph, politicians and industry experts have been shocked (shocked!) to learn that magazines occasionally photoshop pictures of babies: The practice came to light in a BBC documentary, My Supermodel Baby. In footage of a photo shoot for the magazine, the casting director explained how the photograph of baby model Hadley Corbett, five months, was airbrushed: "We lightened his eyes and his general skin tone, smoothed out any blotches and the creases on his arms," he…
Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009.   Comments (5)

CNET lists top 8 brainless tech rumors — CNET UK has come up with a list of "the eight most brainless tech rumours ever." They are: Hoverboards are real The large hadron collider will kill us all X-ray is a hoax Home taping to kill music Apple will buy Nintendo Google to buy CNET Y2K Bug will kill us all Bill Gates is the antichrist An odd list. They've omitted classics such as killer cell phone calls, cell phones explode gas stations, sunlamps cook internal organs, the Nokia speed trap detector, and (of course)
Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

Billboards for Submarines, part 2 — I posted two months ago about underwater billboards that Ivar Haglund supposedly placed at the bottom of Puget Sound back in the 1950s in order to advertise his restaurant to submarines. Some suspected a hoax, and it turns out they were right. From the Seattle Times: That story about those Ivar's underwater billboards at the bottom of Puget Sound, supposedly anchored in the mid-1950s?... Fake, fake, fake. The documents were faked on a computer. The billboard was a wooden prop, says Bob…
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (4)

Should privacy laws protect murderers? — From wired.com: Wikipedia is under a censorship attack by a convicted murderer who is invoking Germany’s privacy laws in a bid to remove references to his killing of a Bavarian actor in 1990. Lawyers for Wolfgang Werle, of Erding, Germany, sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding removal of Werle’s name from the Wikipedia entry on actor Walter Sedlmayr. The lawyers cite German court rulings that “have held that our client’s name and likeness cannot be used anymore in publication…
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (11)

Man propositions girl online; discovers its his wife — There's an urban legend about an unfaithful husband who strikes up an online relationship with a woman. He finally arranges to meet her, only to discover that his online lover is his wife. The BBC reports a story that's similar to this, but much seedier: A suspicious wife posed as a teenager online to catch her husband propositioning girls in a chatroom, Cardiff Crown Court has heard... The court heard that mother-of-two Mrs Roberts became suspicious about the amount of time her…
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (11)

Demi Moore’s Disappearing Hip — On the December cover of W magazine, Demi Moore's left hip doesn't line up with the rest of her leg. (look right above the 'R' in Moore.) It would seem that a photo editor must have screwed up. According to jezebel.com: Although W has a history of using master retoucher Pascal Dangin for its celebrity covers and fashion editorials, the magazine's rep says that the retouching was done in-house by Alas and Piggott's staff. We contacted Demi's rep, too, but haven't heard back. (Thanks, Joe!)
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (9)

The Ghost of Babinda Boulders — According to legend, the ghost of Babinda Boulders in Australia lures young men to their death. (I think Babinda Boulders is also called Devil's Pool.) A recent visitor to the site took a photo in which a "ghost face" appeared. Or so she claims. I can't see anything. Can you? Link: Cairns.com
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (9)

Does dust consist primarily of human skin? — It's a widely repeated factoid that dust consists primarily of human skin. For instance, one can find this piece of information in the first paragraph on the wikipedia page about dust. But Paloma Beamer, a dust expert at the University of Arizona, disputes this claim. From NPR.org: Beamer says there are really only two places dust can come from: outdoors and indoors. We are an important part of the process of getting the outdoor stuff indoors. We bring it with us when we enter a house…
Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009.   Comments (19)

Fox News Falsifies Footage of Protest — Fox News reminds me of William Randolph Hearst. They're no longer even trying to be subtle about falsifying the news. In particular, the latest from Fox News reminds me of something Hearst's New York Mirror did back in 1932. Here (in the words of Curtis MacDougall) is the 1932 incident: In 1932 the New York Mirror ran a picture allegedly of hunger marchers storming Buckingham Palace in London. It was revealed that the scene actually was of a 1929 crowd gathered anxiously during the…
Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009.   Comments (32)

Dasani Deception — I'm a little late with this, but better late than never. From The Boston Phoenix: An odd press conference took place last week in Post Office Square as a man claiming to be an executive at a soft-drink giant touted “a new era for Coca-Cola,” in which its Dasani bottled water will be labeled “Deception.” Of course, it wasn’t actually a Coca-Cola executive or a real press conference (despite the fake journalists asking fake questions), but activist street theater perpetrated by the…
Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009.   Comments (7)

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