The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
May 2012
Are 10 percent of wall street workers psychopaths? — We recently got to see an example of how a bogus fact takes root and spreads — that fact being that 10 percent of wall street workers are clinical psychopaths. It started with a study titled "Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk" published in the April 2010 issue of the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law. Its lead author was Robert Hare, a specialist in the study of psychopathy. Hare had the opportunity to study 203 corporate professionals participating in a management…
Posted: Wed May 30, 2012.   Comments (3)

Was John Travolta replaced by a double in 1991? — According to this theory John Travolta died in 1991 and was replaced by a look-alike, German singer Roy Black. John Travolta (left) -- Roy Black (right) The corollary to this theory would be that Roy Black didn't die of heart failure in 1991, but actually survived and, for some inexplicable reason, took over Travolta's career. The theory doesn't explain how Travolta died. This is a very minor conspiracy theory. I'm guessing it was inspired by someone noticing that Roy Black and John Travolta look somewhat similar. But it made me curious about how many celebrities have… Continue…
Posted: Wed May 23, 2012.   Comments (8)

An Exhibition of Invisible Art — London's Hayward Gallery will soon be hosting an exhibition of invisible art. It's the kind of art where you basically have to take the artist's word for it that there's something there. Included will be works such as Warhol's Invisible Sculpture, "which consists of an empty plinth, on which he had once briefly stepped." Also, 1000 Hours of Staring, which is "a blank piece of paper at which artist Tom Friedman has stared repeatedly over the space of five years." I wonder how…
Posted: Wed May 23, 2012.   Comments (4)

Watch out for fake pig ears — Pig ears are a popular snack in China. So unscrupulous food sellers have figured out a way to make fake pig ears out of gelatin. Given that the real pig ears aren't expensive to begin with, what's being put into the fake ones is dirt cheap and potentially harmful, consumers are being warned. See below for advice about how to know if you've been served a fake pig ear. Fake stewed pig ears pose health risks chinadaily.com Some stewed pig ears have been made from chemicals that could…
Posted: Wed May 23, 2012.   Comments (2)


Glued Meat — Another restaurant scam to watch out for: That expensive steak you ordered may really be pieces of scrap meat glued together. I'd never heard of this 'meat glue' before. Apparently there's very little way to tell if it's being served to you... if the meat is glued together by someone who knows what they're doing. But if an amateur did the gluing, the meat will fall apart as you slice it.
Posted: Wed May 23, 2012.   Comments (1)

A Global Warming Hoax from 1874 — I periodically receive emails from people who insist I need to add global warming to the site because it's the "biggest hoax in human history." I don't agree with that. Actually, I think global warming is something that definitely merits being worried about. However, I did just add a global warming hoax to the hoax archive, which might make the global-warming-is-a-hoax crowd happy. Except that this hoax occurred in 1874. It's a story that appeared in U.S. newspapers in February 1874.…
Posted: Mon May 21, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Angel in the Shopping Mall — Over at livescience.com, Ben Radford analyzes a video that supposedly shows an angel falling to the floor of an Indonesian shopping mall. The video is said to have been taken on Sep 11, 2011. Radford concludes that whoever created the video (and he's sure it's a fake) got the lighting all wrong when they inserted the animated angel. Light sources near the top of the frame are clearly reflected in the polished, semi-glossy floor (which appears to be painted and sealed concrete),…
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012.   Comments (2)

Death by Gatorade Shower — In his column on latimes.com, Brian Cronin examines the legend that Hall of Fame football coach George Allen got sick and died after being doused in gatorade by his team following a winning season. Did a Gatorade shower kill George Allen? latimes.com After three straight losing seasons, Allen led the Long Beach 49ers to a season-ending victory over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on November 17, 1990 that secured them a winning season. Allen's team gave him a Gatorade shower…
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

Earn Money Working at Home—Become an Envelope Elf! — The consumer affairs office of the state of Massachusetts has created a series of phony websites designed to teach people how to avoid online scams. The sites advertise products such as work-at-home deals, weight-loss products, and free trips. If anyone tries to order something from these sites, they're directed to a page identifying it as a scam and telling them how they could have spotted the scam. My favorite one is the "Envelope Elf" site. The SEC did something similar back in…
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012.   Comments (1)

Naked Came the Stranger: the x-rated movie — As I noted in my previous post, Mike McGrady, creator of the 1969 "Naked Came the Stranger" literary hoax, died recently. A little-known footnote to this hoax is that it inspired an x-rated movie in 1975. Here's the trailer for that movie. (It's pretty much safe for work.)
Posted: Thu May 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

RIP Mike McGrady — Mike McGrady was the mastermind behind the Naked Came the Stranger hoax of 1969. His aim was to show that any book with enough sex scenes, even if lacking in any other merit, could sell well. And the book he created to prove this point did sell well. Although its sales had a lot to do with the fact that McGrady's sister-in-law, the attractive Penelope Ashe, posed as its author. Which shows that the good looks of an author can definitely sell books. And, of course, the book sold even…
Posted: Thu May 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

Hoaxes as a class project—and learning lessons from failed hoaxes — Prof. T. Mills Kelly teaches a class on hoaxes at George Mason University titled, "Lying About the Past." It's a study of hoaxes throughout history (the Museum of Hoaxes is on his syllabus!), but also uses hoaxes to teach critical thinking and historical analysis. As part of the class, the students have to create a historical hoax of their own and launch it on the web. I could have sworn that I'd posted previously about Kelly's class, but couldn't find where I did so. Back in 2008, his…
Posted: Thu May 17, 2012.   Comments (0)

Tom Woottwell, Mock Strong Man — Tom Woottwell had an interesting career. He was a "mock strong man," performing to crowds during the late nineteenth century. From The Strand magazine, July 1897: The show indicated in the photo here reproduced was screamingly comic. First, as to the costume of the mock "strong man." he is dressed in dilapidated old tights, which are supposed to be strained almost to bursting point at the arms and calves, owing solely to the abnormal muscular development of those parts. The calves are…
Posted: Wed May 16, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Old Potato/Laptop Switcheroo Scam — I'm assuming the scammers must stuff the potatoes inside a laptop box. Otherwise I'm not sure how they convince their victims to walk away with a bag of potatoes instead of a laptop. Manchester police appeal over potato laptop fraud bbc.co.uk Police say at least four people have been approached by two men offering to sell them a laptop or iPhone. One man paid up to £1,400 and walked away with a rucksack full of potatoes. Other victims received bottles of soft drinks. Police said the…
Posted: Wed May 16, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Great Loveland Potato Hoax: Was this the first viral fake photo ever? — Rick Padden of Loveland, Colorado has written a play about a famous hoax from his own town: The Great Loveland Potato Hoax. It'll be on stage at Loveland's Rialto Theater. The Loveland Potato Hoax took place in 1895. It involved a potato farmer who created a fake photo of himself holding a giant potato. The photo started circulating around the country, passing from one person to another, until it eventually came to the attention of Scientific American, which published it, mistakenly…
Posted: Tue May 15, 2012.   Comments (0)

Yet Another Nessie Theory: She’s a Sleeper Shark — Alaska biologist Bruce Wright, writing in the Alaska Dispatch, offers a new theory to explain Nessie sightings — as well as sightings of 'monsters' in other lakes, such as Alaska's Lake Iliamna. He thinks people may actually have been seeing Pacific Sleeper Sharks. Despite the name, this type of shark is found circumglobally in northern waters and could have made its way into Loch Ness. Wright elaborates: The idea of sharks possibly using Loch Ness is not new; that's long been one of…
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012.   Comments (2)

Mr. Corrupt Self-Serving Lying B’stard — Add this to the satirical candidates file: The guy in the picture was born Eric Mutch. But in 2010 he changed his name by deed poll to "Zero None Of The Above" and ran in the general election for Mayor of Bristol. But he only received 172 votes. He theorized that people didn't understand the point of his name, which was "to give a choice to people who wanted to vote but did not want to give their support to any of the candidates on their ballot paper." So he's changed his name again.…
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012.   Comments (3)

Top 10 Worst Excuses Offered by Students for not Turning in Papers — Teacher Larry Wilson offers up these gems, all of which really were told to him by tardy students: "I had too much homework in my important classes." "I'm having a baby this weekend, can I turn it in later." "I turned it in, and I guess you lost it." "Glee was on." "I'm a crack baby." "I'm working on my essay at home." "My allergies are extremely bad right now, and I'm on my period. It's VERY heavy flow, so I apologize in advance if I freak out on you or anyone." "It's at my mom's…
Posted: Fri May 11, 2012.   Comments (2)

Notice to Thieves, Thugs, Fakirs and Bunko-Steerers — Warning notice posted in Las Vegas, New Mexico, March 24, 1882. Had to post it because I love the term "Bunko-Steerers". From New Mexico's Digital Collections (via Kate Nelson).
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012.   Comments (0)

How Abraham Lincoln Invented Facebook (a hoax) — On Wednesday, Nate St. Pierre posted an interesting story on his blog. He detailed his discovery of an attempt by Abraham Lincoln in 1845 to create and patent a social-networking system that very much resembled Facebook. Only it was an all-paper version of Facebook, and Lincoln didn't call it Facebook. In his patent application he supposedly called it "The Gazette," and he described it as a system to "keep People aware of Others in the Town." He laid out a plan where every town would…
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012.   Comments (1)

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