The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
March 2012
Creepy April Fool Masks — I came across these creepy April Fool masks from 1930 on eBay. Or rather, it's an auction for an article from 1930 about April Fool masks. I've never heard of mask-wearing being part of April Fool's tradition in any country. But I'm sure it would freak people out if you showed up somewhere, such as work, wearing one of these things. Especially that pig mask.
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012.   Comments (1)

The Human Birdwings Hoax — Jarno Smeets claims to be a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands who's attempting to build a machine (Human Birdwings) to let people fly with flapping wings like a bird. It's not human-powered, per se. As you can see in the video, Jarno flaps his arms, and his arm motions are read by a Nintendo Wii controller and an Android smartphone which interprets them into mechanical commands. That's the theory, anyway. Is this fake? It seems to be. Wired did some digging into Smeets'…
Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2012.   Comments (4)

Why Do You Taste Wine In Restaurants Before It’s Served? — The traditional explanation is that you taste the wine to make sure it's not corked, but this explanation never made a lot of sense to me. First of all, wine doesn't get corked all that often — I've received corked wine maybe three times in years of eating at restaurants. Second, you could figure out it was corked after it was poured. Why the necessity to taste it first? And third, waiters go through the tasting ceremony even if it's a screwtop bottle or plastic cork, which means the…
Posted: Tue Mar 20, 2012.   Comments (9)

Burnt Toast With Image Of Romney Shaking Hands With Satan — This auction managed to generate some attention from the internet — enough to get it pulled from eBay. Try as anyone might, no one could see the image the seller claimed was there. And the guy wanted $88.40 just for shipping. Apparently the auction was really just a thinly veiled anti-Mormon diatribe. Link: gawker.com.
Posted: Mon Mar 19, 2012.   Comments (1)


Post-Rapture Pet Adoption — For over three years, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has been offering peace of mind to Rapture believers. Should the Rapture come, and the devout are whisked away up to Heaven, this service will take care of their pets that are left behind — for a small fee of $135 per pet. But now Bloomberg News is reporting that the business was all just a hoax concocted by Bart Centre, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, in order to promote his book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles. Bloomberg…
Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012.   Comments (2)

TV Screen Jesus — This might be in the running for the stupidest pareidolia ever. Floridian Guerda Maurice was watching the Bachelor on TV when she saw a design she wanted to take a picture of. (A design? I have no idea what she means by that.) So she picks up her phone and takes a picture of the TV screen. Later she looks at the picture she took and sees "Jesus picture". That is, there was a reflection on the screen that she thought looked like Jesus. She was so excited that she made a locket out of TV…
Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012.   Comments (2)

Looking for Dutch speakers to help translate April Fool’s Day poem from 1561 — In my article about the origin of April Fool's Day, which I wrote a few years ago, I noted that the first explicit reference to April 1st being a day for pranks can be found in a poem written in late-medieval Dutch (around 1561) by Eduard De Dene. The title of the poem is "Refereyn vp verzendekens dach / Twelck den eersten April te zyne plach." Marco Langbroek kindly translated this for me as: "Refrain on errand-day / which is the first of April." But it recently occurred to me that…
Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2012.   Comments (12)

Virus-Noise-Reducing Cable — Add this to the list of bizarre and dubious claims made by the manufacturers of audio and computer cables. The manufacturer of the Xbox 360 Elite HDMI 2.5m Basic Cable claim that their product includes "anti-virus protection to reduce virus noises." I'm glad someone is finally doing something about those awful virus noises! (via reddit)
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012.   Comments (5)

Bank of America Declares Man Dead — If you're declared dead on twitter, it doesn't mean much anymore — especially if you're Justin Bieber. But if a major bank declares you dead, that can really screw up your finances if you happen to still be alive. This happened to Arthur Livingston (who lives, oddly enough, in a town called Prosperity). Bank of America reported him dead. Livingston only found this out when he tried to get a new mortgage. But no one would loan him money because he was supposed to be dead. It cost…
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012.   Comments (0)

Face of ET Found in a Log — Ken Dobson of Chiseldon was sawing logs with a chainsaw for firewood when he saw the face of ET staring back at him from the log he just cut. Dobson doesn't say anything about believing the face to be a message from extraterrestrials. (So by American standards he's clearly nuts! Isn't it obvious this is a sign from ET?) Nor does he have plans to sell this on eBay. Instead he wants to have a professional slice more pieces from the log to see if he can get a couple more faces out of it to…
Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Taj Mahal is Sinking — Apparently it's because the original architects didn't factor in the weight of all the tourists who visit it. Well, no. Not really. According to the BBC, the real reason is that, "The building's foundations require a steady stream of moisture from the Yamuna River to retain its strength - but the river is slowly drying up." But the headline immediately reminded me of the urban legend of the sinking library.
Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012.   Comments (3)

The Great Tide Crime Wave — M.L. Nestel, writing for thedaily.com, reports that Tide detergent has become the hot new item targeted by thieves. He calls it a "Grime Wave." Nestel writes: Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid.  According to Nestel, Tide has become a form of currency…
Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012.   Comments (6)

Why Am I Still Getting Emails About Midget Rentals? — Apparently it's true that the internet never forgets. Seven years ago I posted about a company claiming to rent midgets for parties. In that post I didn't say I was renting midgets. I simply said there was a business claiming to rent them. In fact, I thought the idea sounded so odd that I had some doubts about whether the business was real. (And I probably shouldn't use the term 'midget.' I think 'little person' is now the preferred term.) Anyway, soon after making that post, I started…
Posted: Mon Mar 12, 2012.   Comments (4)

That chicken you’re eating… it ain’t chicken — Perhaps everything tastes like chicken because the chicken you get in supermarkets has a little bit of every other animal in it. This is a BBC documentary, but I'm sure what they talk about holds true for every other country in the world.
Posted: Sat Mar 10, 2012.   Comments (0)

Baby Yoga, or Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head — Infant learning and development is a field full of dubious theories, because there are so many desperate parents willing to try anything that might give their kids a slight edge-up in life. So the stage is set for Baby Yoga, aka "dynamic baby gymnastics," aka 'swinging your baby around your head.' Its practitioners claim that if you're not doing this, then you're depriving your child of an important developmental opportunity. Check out the video below which shows Elena Fokina…
Posted: Fri Mar 09, 2012.   Comments (6)

A Bullfighter Repents — The following photo and caption has recently begun to circulate online. It's all over Facebook. "And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence... that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer - because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven. I felt like the worst shit on earth."
 This photo shows the collapse of Torrero Alvaro Munera,…
Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012.   Comments (4)

$8100 George Washington Chicken McNugget — Three years ago, Rebekah Speight of Dakota City and her kids were at McDonalds, where they ordered some Chicken McNuggets. One of the McNuggets went uneaten, but just as she was about to throw it out, Rebekah noticed that it resembled George Washington. So she took it home and kept it in her freezer. And just a few days ago, this decision paid off when she managed to sell the GWCM for $8100 on eBay. But she's not keeping the money. It's all going to a charity to send children to summer…
Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012.   Comments (2)

The Man Who Claims He Invented Email — Back in November 2011, Time magazine ran an article titled "The Man Who Invented Email." It was about V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai who, in 1978 as a 14-year-old kid, wrote and copyrighted a program called EMAIL. This article led the Smithsonian to recently acquire various documents related to Ayyadurai's 1978 program, in order to immortalize its contribution to American life and culture. In late February, the Washington Post added to Ayyadurai's growing fame as the creator of email by writing…
Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012.   Comments (3)

The April Fool’s Day Jinx — A few times when I've done interviews about April Fool's Day, I've been asked whether the tradition of foolery on April 1st is dying out because, despite the day's popularity online, most people don't celebrate it. My answer is that April Fool's Day has always been ignored by the majority of the population, but the influence of the celebration can be seen in what people don't do on April 1. Even people who have never played a prank in their entire life, will nevertheless acknowledge…
Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012.   Comments (3)

The Nullarbor Nymph Comes To The Big Screen — I posted a brief description of the Australian legend of the Nullarbor Nymph back in 2004. This is what I wrote: Thirty-two years ago the tiny town of Eucla, Australia, on the edge of the Nullarbor plain, became famous when a few of its residents first sighted the Nullarbor Nymph. The Nymph was a blonde, feral, half-naked woman who lived in the bush and ran wild with kangaroos. News of this wild woman quickly spread around the world. Now filmmaker Matthew Wilkinson has brought the…
Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2012.   Comments (1)

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