Hoax Museum Blog Posts: November 2013

Dave Wilson—Not Black — Dave Wilson insists he didn't get elected to the Houston Community College System Board of Trustees by "pretending to be black," though many people are now accusing him of doing exactly that. He says he merely ran a smart campaign and used "targeted marketing" to appeal to voters in the majority black neighborhood where he was running. Yes, he avoided putting a photo of his own white face in his campaign literature, but included lots of stock photos of smiling black people. But…
Posted: Wed Nov 13, 2013.   Comments (0)

Unterstitzen on the Bleiweis—the German town that was never taken — In the first months of 1945, the Allied forces began advancing rapidly on Berlin. But to the press correspondents tagging along behind the military, it seemed as if the going was actually quite slow. They had thought they would be in Berlin in a few days, but instead officers kept telling them that Berlin would be reached soon, but there was just one more stream, one more creek, one more canal, one more small river that had to be taken first. So Bill Heinz of the New York Sun joked…
Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013.   Comments (0)

Andy Kaufman’s Daughter — The surprise guest at this year's Andy Kaufman Awards, which took place in NYC over the long weekend, was Andy Kaufman's 24-year-old daughter. The surprise is that Kaufman died 29 years ago. And Andy didn't store his sperm, or anything like that, in order to facilitate post-mortem conception. Andy's brother Michael explained that Andy faked his death because "Andy wanted to go into hiding and live a normal life, that he'd met and fallen in love with a woman and had a daughter, and that…
Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2013.   Comments (2)

Paris Hilton Says ‘Stop Being Poor’

A photo has been circulating recently that shows Paris Hilton at a party wearing a tank top that bears the message: "Stop Being Poor." Paris Hilton has hardly carved out a reputation for herself as a champion of social justice. Nor is she known for her keen intelligence. So it's not hard to believe that she might have worn something like this. The photo also plays to ancient stereotypes of the insensitive rich. The old "Let them eat cake" attitude (a phrase that's commonly, but mistakenly, attributed to Marie Antoinette). And this stereotype certainly has some basis in reality.

Posted: Sat Nov 09, 2013.   Comments (0)


The Nigerian Message-In-A-Bottle Bank Scam — Warning: if you find a message in a bottle requesting your help with transferring £4,500,000 out of Nigeria, it may be a scam. Tom Fenton recently found such a message in a bottle while cycling along the Thames. It was written by Barrister Umsloppogas Adinga: Dear Friend, I am pleased that this letter has reached you safely. I was given your name as an honourable and upright person to do business with. Let me introduce myself; I am Umsloppogas Adinga a barrister working in the…
Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013.   Comments (5)

An Igorot With A Tail, 1925 — Here's a case of a fake "viral" image that made its way into the scientific literature back in 1925, demonstrating that the phenomenon of strange, doctored images circulating around existed long before the internet, although the internet certainly boosted the phenomenon to new levels. The 1925 case: In the fourth edition of his book I Believe in God and in Evolution, published in 1925, William Keen included a short account of "Human Beings With Tails": Human Beings With Tails The…
Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013.   Comments (2)

Myth: 30,000 new words have been added to Polish since 1945 — From the most recent issue of the International Journal of Lexicography: one can find highly interesting cases of the 'Eskimo hoax' type in accounts of the history of Polish vocabulary, the one most often found being the statement that there are 30,000 'new words' (and one million technical terms) in Polish that appeared after 1945. This claim is not based on adequate empirical data. Piotr Wierzchon discusses the hoax on pages 178-183 of the book under review [Depozytorium leksykalne…
Posted: Tue Nov 05, 2013.   Comments (2)

Giants Visit Old Lady — The city government of Ningguo in eastern China's Anhui province has admitted that, yes, this photo, which was recently posted to its website, was digitally manipulated. It's supposed to show four officials paying a friendly visit to 103-year-old Cheng Yanchun. But now it's become the subject of widespread mockery, once people noticed the unusual size mismatch between the woman and the officials. (That small object in the lower left right of the photo is the woman.) Also, one of the…
Posted: Sat Nov 02, 2013.   Comments (2)

Soylent Food — Soylent describes itself as "food without the hassle." It's basically a protein shake. But unlike most protein shakes that bear notices warning that they're not intended as a food substitute (merely a diet supplement), Soylent claims that it is a food substitute. You can live on this stuff. According to Fox News, the makers of Soylent chose the name as a playful reference to Soylent Green, the well-known 70s sci-fi movie about human cannibalism. However, Soylent doesn't contain human…
Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013.   Comments (1)

A Brief History of Prescription Windshields — I've been spending a lot of time recently adding to the April Fool archive, and in doing so I've noticed that a lot of April 1st jokes get repeated again and again over the years. One joke in particular caught my eye. In the past 20 years, prescription windshields (or windscreens, as the British say) have been the theme of corporate April Fool campaigns at least 4 separate times — and possibly more, for all I know. This made me wonder: how old is the 'prescription windshield' joke?
Posted: Fri Nov 01, 2013.   Comments (2)

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