The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
December 2009
Crop Circles and Ostension — An article on smithsonian.com discusses the history of crop circles and why people believe in them. Part of the reason is the paradox of ostension. Fake evidence, even if proven fake, nevertheless tends to reinforce belief: False evidence intended to corroborate an existing legend is known to folklorists as “ostension.” This process also inevitably extends the legend. For, even if the evidence is eventually exposed as false, it will have affected people’s perceptions of the phenomenon…
Posted: Wed Dec 23, 2009.   Comments (21)

Parents of Balloon Boy receive their sentence — Richard Heene is going to have to serve 90 days -- 30 in jail and 60 in a work-release program. Mayumi Heene has 20 days in jail. Prosecutors have asked that they also pay $47,000 in restitution. They're also barred from making any money from the incident. So no money from book deals. Link: LA Times
Posted: Wed Dec 23, 2009.   Comments (6)

Ancient shroud casts doubt on Shroud of Turin — Archaeologists have found a burial shroud sealed within a 2000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem. Comparing the newly found shroud to the Shroud of Turin adds to the evidence that the Shroud of Turin is a fake. From nationalgeographic.com: The newfound shroud was something of a patchwork of simply woven linen and wool textiles, the study found. The Shroud of Turin, by contrast, is made of a single textile woven in a complex twill pattern, a type of cloth not known to have been available in…
Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2009.   Comments (44)

Margaret Mead Redeemed? — A new salvo has been fired in the ongoing controversy about whether the anthropologist Margaret Mead was "hoaxed" during her research in Samoa in 1925. I've got a brief article about the controversy in the hoax archive. To summarize: Mead traveled to Samoa, interviewed some teenage girls about their sexual behavior, and concluded that Samoan culture had very relaxed, easygoing attitudes about sex. Almost sixty years later Derek Freeman challenged her findings and claimed that the…
Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2009.   Comments (6)


Fake Salvation Army Bell Ringers — Police are warning that a fake Salvation Army bell ringer is on the loose in Topeka, Kansas: The "freelance ringer," as Yockey termed the man, had worked for the Salvation Army for the holiday season but began to show up late for his shifts. Then, the day before he was fired, the man placed a Santa hat atop his red kettle and told passersby that the kettle was full and to place money in the hat. He was then fired. But on Sunday, when ringers don't work but many of the racks holding the…
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009.   Comments (19)

The Christian Side Hug: Real or Hoax? — Thanks to Peter for drawing our attention to this strange new concept. (Link to his forum post.) Apparently side hugging is gaining popularity in the land of conservative Christians. The idea is to avoid the dangerous risk of "two crotches touching." Therefore: Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their’s. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you’re taking a photo and you’re both looking at the camera together.…
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009.   Comments (21)

Jacob Hadcock: the new Craig Shergold — The Craig Shergold rumor strikes again. Jacob is a real kid, and he really has leukemia, but he isn't dying. But somehow word got out on the internet that he was dying, and that his last wish was to get christmas cards from everyone. So now the cards are pouring in by the thousands. Link: Associated Press. Below is one of the youtube videos spreading the rumor.
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

Boy suspended from school for drawing Jesus — Outrageous! A young boy was suspended from school for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross! Let's all get worked up about this. Oh, wait a second. Turns out the story was mostly b.s. cooked up by the boy's father. The boy wasn't suspended, though a teacher did order a psychological evaluation of the boy: "She said the drawing was seen as a potential cry for help when the student identified himself, rather than Jesus, on the cross, which prompted the teacher to alert the school’s…
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009.   Comments (5)

Fake Gospel of St. Mark — A version of the Gospel of St. Mark, once thought to date from the Byzantine era, has now been determined to be a late-19th-century fake. From the Chicago Sun Times: The manuscript, written in Greek, originally was believed to have been written as early as the 14th century. But strong suspicions that it might not be nearly so old surfaced in 1989, after it was discovered that a blue pigment on one of the pages wasn't available until 1704, Mitchell said. It took carbon dating, advanced…
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (2)

Twiggy ad ruled misleading — The UK Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that an advertisement featuring Twiggy is misleading. The ad has Twiggy claiming that "Olay is my secret to brighter-looking eyes." In fact, the brightness of her eyes in the photo is due to digital manipulation. Link: sky.com Real Twiggy Fake Twiggy
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (6)

Steorn: perpetually in the news — Irish company Steorn is back in the news with their perpetual motion machine. Having had their claims dismissed by a jury of scientists earlier this year, they're now appealing directly to the public by staging a demonstration of their machine in Dublin. I still can't figure out if these guys really think they've developed a new, revolutionary technology, or if it's all a cynical publicity ploy. Links: herald.ie, steorn.com/orbo Related entries: Official verdict: Steorn didn't…
Posted: Wed Dec 16, 2009.   Comments (9)

The Yes Men Strike Again — Through a series of fake press releases and websites, the Yes Men briefly made it appear as if Canada had pledged to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40%. From the Globe and Mail: Canada's "Agenda 2020" set a goal of a 40-per-cent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. It was a dramatic change from the current goal of 3 per cent. It also created a new fund, for which Canada pledged a whopping $13-billion next year, to help developing nations deal with climate change.
Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2009.   Comments (2)

GOP URL Shortener put to unintended use — Yesterday the GOP debuted its own URL shortener. Wired.com describes the results: Almost immediately after it launched yesterday, pranksters began using the service to link to controversial or ironically-intended websites such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. GOP.am started blocking such links apparently at some point Tuesday morning, and the GOP.am homepage is now offline.
Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2009.   Comments (1)

Wanted: Lap Dance Researcher — A help wanted notice recently appeared on the website of the University of Leeds for a research officer whose job would be to research "The rise and regulation of lap dancing and the place of sexual labour and consumption in the night time economy." Sounds like a hard job. But is it real? Gill, who sent me the link, writes, "It LOOKS like a hoax, it SMELLS like a hoax, but....?" I don't think it's a hoax. It's legitimately on the University of Leeds site, and sociologists definitely…
Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2009.   Comments (5)

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