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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
January 2013
Prof. Humbolt’s Electric-Light Fluid Scam, 1896 — I came across the above complaint in Gleanings in Bee Culture (1896). It seems that a door-to-door salesman was going around selling something he called "Prof. Humbolt's Electric-Light Fluid," which had absolutely nothing to do with electricity or electric lighting. The term "electric" was thrown into just about every product name back then to make products sound more scientific and modern. As far as I can tell from the description, this "electric-light fluid" was a powder (not a…
Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2013.   Comments (1)

A Case of Art Plagiarism — Art fraud typically involves the copying or imitation of famous artists. For instance, Han van Meegeren made millions by claiming that his paintings were actually newly discovered works by Vermeer. But the recent case of Rashidi Barrett shows that it's also possible to make money by copying the work of relatively obscure artists. Rashidi Barrett (image posted on his website) Barrett's work generated positive buzz when he began showing it in Norfolk, Virginia around 2011. He used his…
Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2013.   Comments (2)

Slave Girl for $7.14 Hoax, 1959 — Here's an example of a rumor that swept through an African community back in 1959. The story appeared in The Bakersfield Californian (Nov. 10, 1959). Slave Girl For $7.14 All A Hoax MOMBASA, Kenya (UPI) — Crowds of Africans who wanted to buy wives for $7.14 each have been told by the government that those stories about slave auctions were only rumor. Local official W.P.M. Maigacho had to issue an official denial of the rumors after men from outlying tribes twice gathered in the town…
Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2013.   Comments (1)

Tortoise Survives in Closet for 30 Years — The latest news from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is that a tortoise was found alive after being locked in a closet for 30 years. The story goes that the Almeida family lost their tortoise, Manuela, 30 years ago. They looked everywhere for her, but eventually concluded that she had run away. But when the father of the family, Leonel, died recently, the kids (now adults) were clearing out his room, and there, in the closet, was Manuela. Somehow she was still alive. [telegraph.co.uk] How could…
Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013.   Comments (2)


Prisoners request kosher meals — Columbian.com reports that there appears to have been a dramatic increase in Jewish prisoners at Washington State prisons, based on food requests at these institutions. The evidence: in 2011 approximately 1 percent of the inmates requested special kosher meals. But now, 2 years later, almost 11 percent of inmates are requesting them. Federal law requires that the state honors religious dietary requests. The problem is that the kosher meals are more expensive than normal meals — $6.80…
Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2013.   Comments (2)

The Disappearance of Rozel, 1897 — Rozel is a small town in the middle of Kansas. Population: 156. It was founded in 1886 — its main reason for existence being that it served as a stop on the Santa Fe railroad line. Throughout its history, it hasn't been in the news much. The one time it did receive national attention was back in 1897 when it supposedly disappeared, swallowed up by a giant sinkhole. The report of its disappearance went out in November 1897 and appeared in papers nationwide, including the New York Times:
Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013.   Comments (2)

Hoax Archive Makeover — My New Years' resolution was to start posting regularly again here, since it makes me feel sad and guilty when I neglect the hoax museum. It's just too easy, when other things demand my attention, to fail to look after the site, given that there's no boss (except my conscience) to tell me to get back to work. Now I didn't post any updates for the first 24 days of the year, so it may seem like I already broke my resolution. But not quite. I took the time to give the Hoax Archive a big…
Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2013.   Comments (5)

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