Hoax Museum Blog Posts: April 2012

Myth-Busters of Mohali — Interesting article in tehelka.com about Tarksheel, the Punjab Rationalist Society, which is a chapter of the larger Indian Rationalist Society. Its members try to combat superstition by using logic and skeptical inquiry. After reading the article, it sounds like they have an uphill struggle ahead of them. Some highlights: The head of the Indian Rationalist Association, Sanal Edamaruku, spent close to 23 hours in a studio in New Delhi last year, while a sadhu invited by the news…
Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2012.   Comments (2)

Canadian artist makes Bigfoot track shoes — Montreal-based artist Maskull Lasserre has designed shoes that make footprints in the ground as you walk along, instead of shoe prints. He's got a human-footprint shoe, but also a bigfoot-print shoe. He's quoted as saying: 'Living now in the city, I found a strange kind of loneliness seeing only human shoe prints in the puddles and snow. 'This project was my way of introducing a sort of mysterious possibility to the urban landscape, for those who happened upon it. 'But I admit that I…
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

How a fake Mary Todd Lincoln portrait was exposed — The Chicago Tribune tells the story of the detective work conducted by conservator Barry Bauman that led to his exposure of a portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln as a fraud. Lincoln (and, by association, his wife) is one of those historical figures who's like a magnet for hoaxes. Other hoax magnets would include George Washington and Hitler. Anatomy of a fake Lincoln Chicago Tribune ...The original portrait, painted perhaps in the mid-1860s, is of a still-anonymous woman. She wore a crucifix…
Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012.   Comments (1)

F*** The Diet? — Many people thought this was too weird to be true, but apparently it's real. Multinational mega-corporation Unilever is running an ad campaign in Germany for its "Du Darfst" line of food products that features the English slogan "Fuck the Diet!" It's kinda like if McDonalds were to unveil "Fuck Eating Healthy" as its new ad slogan. A Unilever spokesperson offered this explanation: "Although the current Du Darfst campaign has become a bit of a talking point in Germany -- as effective…
Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2012.   Comments (5)


The Great Twitter Girl-In-A-Noodle Hoax — Over the weekend, on Saturday night, @chicagobars posted this tweet: Word immediately began to spread around Twitter that someone was trapped inside the giant noodle sculpture across from Wrigley Field. Half-an-hour later, @chicagobars posted an update. It all seemed quite plausible. People could imagine how it might occur to a drunken reveler to crawl inside the noodle and then get stuck inside. So the news was retweeted and re-retweeted, magnified in the great Twitter echo…
Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

Professor argues dating sites do nothing more than weed out the freaks — UCLA Professor Benjamin Karney thinks that online dating site eHarmony is making fraudulent claims about the scientific basis of its business. He admits it may provide a helpful service by providing access to a larger dating pool and 'weeding out the freaks.' But the company also claims that it's using "scientifically proven" methods in order to predict "happier, healthier long-term relationships." And that, Karney insists, just isn't so. UCLA Professors Say eHarmony Is Unscientific…
Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2012.   Comments (1)

The Saint of Rice Excrements — Back in ninth-century Japan, there was a religious charlatan who earned the title bei-fun-hijiri or "saint of rice excrements". Before telling how he acquired this title, I should relate how I came across his story, which was in a rather roundabout way. First, I came across a post on the Of Small Wonders & Great Wanders blog about the ancient art of self-mummification, developed by ascetic monks of the Shingon sect in northern Japan: It was initiated by Kobo Daishi (774-835), who took…
Posted: Tue Apr 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

What do these piano pieces by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Haydn all have in common? — (Besides the fact that they're all performed by the same guy) Mozart, Sonata in D Major, Anh. 294d, mov. 3 Mendelssohn's Song Without Words, Op. posth., No. 3d. Haydn, Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, Hob. LVII:1-12 Answer: They're all hoaxes. The pieces weren't composed by Mozart, Mendelssohn, or Haydn. Last year someone going under the name 'The Mad Rhino' began uploading videos of himself playing pieces by famous composers. The videos caught the attention of classical-music fans…
Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2012.   Comments (1)

Real or Fake: picture of Hindu man with knife sticking through his neck — A picture taken by Reuters photographer Rupak De Chowdhuri. The Reuters caption states: A Hindu devotee with his neck pierced with a knife attends the "Chadak" ritual at Krishanadevpur village, north of Kolkata April 13, 2012. Hundreds of Hindu devotees attend the ritual, held to worship the Hindu deity of destruction Lord Shiva, on the last day of the Bengali calendar year. The photographer was unable to check the veracity of the action of this devotee. The options are: This guy…
Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012.   Comments (10)

Lightly touching women’s stomachs while they’re sitting down… and other strange pranks — I noticed several odd pranks in the news: Touching women's stomachs: Tosh.0 had a segment on his show about women's reactions when you lightly touch their stomachs while they're sitting down, and he encouraged his viewers to try this during the commercial break to see what would happen. According to Time, lots of people promptly began posting videos to youtube showing themselves doing this. "I've buried the body": Over in Western Australia, many people are reporting that they're…
Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012.   Comments (2)

Study finds that chivalry at sea is a myth. Men survive shipwrecks at much higher rate than women. — If you're a woman, don't expect much help from men during a shipwreck. In fact, the men are likely to be shoving the women out of the way in their eagerness to save themselves. That's the general message of a new study by Swedish economists Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson, "Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters." Women fare worst on British ships — contrary to the tradition of British chivalry. The one exception to this rule was the Titanic, where…
Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012.   Comments (0)

Setting The Clock Back — A nice example of the forced perspective illusion. Photo taken October 28, 1960. (found on eBay) "Careful placement by photographer gives illusion that Aileen Gallagher is setting clock on tower of Chicago's Wrigley Building as Illinois and other sections of nation prepare for return to Standard Time from Daylight Saving Time at 2 A.M. this coming Sunday. Aileen, Trans World Airlines hostess, is standing on ledge about two blocks from clock."
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Car Switcheroo Prank—this couldn’t be done today! — Marjorie writes in again, with a story told to her by an Aussie friend (in his words). What I love about this story is that it's set in a time and place where people actually left their cars unlocked, with the keys on the front seat, expecting that the cars would still be there when they returned. I was living in Hobart in 1977 and, driving home, I noticed a friend's car parked outside the corner store at the bottom of my street. I was expecting her to come visit later that afternoon…
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2012.   Comments (2)

Those French beaches look great, because they’re really in Hawaii — France's tourism agency has been embarrassed after it's been revealed that a whole series of photos it's been using to promote French beaches don't actually show French locations at all. They're stock photos, taken in Hawaii and South Africa, in the background of which the tourism agency sometimes photoshopped sections of French coastline. It seems stupid since France has some great scenery, but the tourism agency was apparently too cheap to hire a photographer to take photos of any of…
Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2012.   Comments (0)

Russian Girl Floats Up Into The Air — Either it's a hoax, or a muggle wandered across a wizarding lesson. (via HuffPost)
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2012.   Comments (1)

Scammers vs. lawyers vs. bankers — It's kinda hard to know who, if anyone, to feel sympathy for here. (Thanks, Bob!) Lawyer falls for Nigerian e-mail scam, sues Wells Fargo bizjournals.com An Edina law firm that lost nearly $400,000 in a Nigerian wire-fraud scam is claiming that Wells Fargo, which handled the fund transfers, should cover its losses. The Star Tribune reports on the lawsuit by Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, which three years ago received an e-mail from someone purporting to be a Korean woman who needed the…
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2012.   Comments (0)

Tube of Liquor Hidden in Prohibition Boot — These shoes were quite popular during the prohibition era. You could buy them in many shoe stores. They don't look like they were very comfortable.
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2012.   Comments (2)

The Maureen Dowd Plagiarism Defense, or ‘I thought I was copying my friend, not you!’ — Craig Silverman has coined a term for a new kind of excuse popular with writers caught plagiarizing. It's the Maureen Dowd Plagiarism Defense. He explains: In 2009, Dowd used close to 50 words from a John Marshall post on Talking Points Memo. She didn't offer any attribution. The words were presented as her own, and that led to accusations of plagiarism, and to a correction being issued. The Dowd Defense emerged when she reached out to a variety of websites to explain how it happened.…
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2012.   Comments (2)

Martian Pareidolia: An Elephant in Lava Flow — An image released by NASA last week, taken by the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter, shows ancient lava flow on the surface of Mars, in the Elysium Planitia region. Some are saying that the shape of the lava flow looks like an elephant. Hmm. It looks like Jesus to me. (link: space.com)
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2012.   Comments (2)

Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Breasts Disappear Before Our Eyes — In an ad that ran in Entertainment Weekly, Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts were noticeably smaller than they were in the same ad that ran just about everywhere else (including, briefly, on this site). I suspect this was done by some marketing person in order to give bloggers an excuse to write about Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts, and post comparison photos. I fell for the ruse. (via Huffington Post)
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2012.   Comments (4)

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