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Hoax Museum Blog Posts From
June 2014
June 30, 2005: Save Toby
A case of bunny blackmail. The owner of the website SaveToby.com claimed that unless he received $50,000 by June 30, 2005, he was going to cook and eat a rabbit named Toby. It was a hollow threat. The deadline passed and was extended multiple times. Nevertheless, animal lovers were outraged. Toby's owner then secured a book deal, resulting in a new threat — that unless 100,000 books were sold, Toby would be eaten. It's doubtful this goal was ever reached. Nevertheless, Toby was eventually issued a formal reprieve.

Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 29, 1988: The first Lizard Man sighting
A 17-year-old driving home from work at 2 AM in Lee County, South Carolina reportedly encountered a green reptilian humanoid with glowing red eyes. Within a month, several other people had reported seeing a similar creature, leading to a wave of "Lizard Man" mania. Tourists came hoping to see the creature, and a radio station offered a $1 million reward for his capture. Lizard Man remains at large. [wikipedia]

Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 28, 1902: Passage of the Dick Act
According to an email that has circulated widely since 2012, the "Dick Act" (passed on June 28, 1902) permanently made all gun-control laws unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Dick Act "cannot be repealed." This email is a hoax. The truth is that there was a Dick Act, which created the National Guard system, but it had no bearing on gun-control laws. And like any law, it could be repealed (and was, in fact, extensively rewritten by subsequent acts of Congress). [armsandthelaw.com]

Posted: Sat Jun 28, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 27, 1994: O.J.'s Darkened Mug Shot
Time magazine used a mug shot of O.J. Simpson on its June 27, 1994 cover. However, Newsweek ran the same mug shot on its cover that week. When the two covers appeared side-by-side on newsstands, it became very obvious that Time had altered the mugshot by darkening it. Time argued that it had artistically interpreted the mugshot to make it into an "icon of tragedy." But critics charged Time with racially motivated photofakery. More…


June 27, 2012: Phony Back to the Future Day
Thousands of Facebook users shared a photo that appeared to show that June 27, 2012 was "Back to the Future Day" — the day on which Marty McFly arrives in the future in the 1989 Movie Back to the Future II. However, the actual date of BTF day is Oct. 21, 2015. The phony image had been created as part of a promotion of a box set of Back to the Future DVDs. More…

Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2014.   Comments (0)


June 26, 1998: Discovery of the Marree Man
A pilot flying in a remote region of South Australia spotted an enormous geoglyph carved into the ground, depicting a man throwing a stick. No one had seen the figure before. Nor did anyone know how it had come to be there. Its creation was assumed to be the work of pranksters. To this day, no one has confessed to making it. [wikipedia]

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 25, 1899: The Great Wall of China Hoax
On this day, a group of Denver reporters ran a hoax story claiming that China had decided to tear down the Great Wall and was inviting American firms to bid on the demolition project. Decades later a persistent rumor began to circulate alleging that when this article reached China, the Chinese became so furious at the idea of Americans tearing down the Great Wall, that they took up arms against Westerners in retaliation. Thus launching the Boxer Rebellion. However, there was no truth to this rumor at all. More…

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 24, 1947: The Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting
On this day in 1947, civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine unidentified objects flying at supersonic speed past Mount Rainier. Newspaper accounts referred to what he saw as "flying saucers," which popularized this term. There's no indication that Arnold was lying about what he saw. Skeptics suggest that he might actually have been seeing birds or some kind of mirage. So his report itself isn't a hoax. But his report is widely credited with ushering in the modern era of UFO sightings, which has been a rich source of hoaxes. [wikipedia]

Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2014.   Comments (1)

June 23, 1987: The Dayton Hudson Stock Hoax
The news that a private investment firm was buying the retailer Dayton Hudson for $6.8 billion sent the company's stock price soaring, and then crashing back down again when investors learned the report was false. A 46-year-old investment adviser, P. David Herrlinger, had phoned the Dow Jones News Service and told them he was buying the company, and the news service had believed him. But Herrlinger, it turned out, was suffering a nervous breakdown and delusional, which sparked concern at how easily a single irrational individual could manipulate the market. More…

Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 22, 2005: Death of William Donaldson
William Donaldson (1935-2005) was the author of one of the great satirical literary hoaxes of the late 20th century, the bestselling Henry Root Letters. Adopting the identity of Henry Root, supposedly a retired wet-fish merchant whose politics leaned far Right, Donaldson wrote brash, often abusive letters to eminent public figures. The letters usually contained a single pound note. The recipients of Root's letters would inevitably write back, apparently unaware that they were the butt of a joke. [wikipedia]

Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 21, 1947: The Maury Island Incident
On this day, Harold Dahl claimed to see six "donut-shaped" discs flying above him while he was on a boat in Puget Sound. One of the discs ejected bits of molten metal, which (so Dahl said) killed his dog and burnt the arm of his son. Dahl also said that he was later visited by a man in a dark suit who warned him not to talk further about the incident. This was the first report of a "man in black". Air Force investigators identified the metal as scrap metal from a factory, and Dahl confessed that his report was a hoax. [wikipedia, mauryislandincident.com]

Posted: Sat Jun 21, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 20, 1977: Alternative 3
A documentary titled Alternative 3 aired in England, on ITV. It revealed to viewers the existence of a secret plan by the governments of the world to create a Noah's Ark colony of humans on Mars in anticipation of a looming environmental catastrophe that would soon make the Earth uninhabitable. The earnestness of the show's delivery convinced many that it was real. However, it was intended as a mock documentary, originally intended to be aired on April Fool's Day. More…

Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 19, 1816: Wimbledon Common Military Review
Twenty-thousand people assembled on Wimbledon Common in England to witness a 'Grand Military Review' that pamphlets had promised would occur. When it became clear that no parade was happening, the crowd grew restless and set fire to the grass. They weren't appeased when officials explained that no parade had ever been planned, and that the pamphlets were the work of a prankster. The crowd continued to grow ever more violent, so much so that the police were unable to contain them. Eventually a detachment of guards was dispatched from London with orders to parade up and down the Common, in order to satisfy the crowd.

Posted: Thu Jun 19, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 18, 2003: A Phone Call to Fidel Castro
On this day in 2003, two Miami DJs fooled Cuban President Fidel Castro into thinking he was receiving a phone call from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The DJs simulated Chavez's voice by playing back real soundbites spoken by the Venezuelan leader during speeches, while a presenter posing as a Chavez "aide" carried the bulk of the conversation. The "aide" explained that Chavez needed help finding a lost suitcase. Castro readily agreed to help, at which point the "aide" revealed to Castro that he "fell" for it, and that "All of Miami is listening to you." This prompted Castro to break out in a string of invective. [youtube]

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 17, 1579: Drake's Plate of Brass
June 17, 1579 is the date engraved on a brass plate, commemorating the landing of Francis Drake in San Francisco Bay. The plate was found in 1936 and was initially believed to be the actual plate left centuries ago by Drake and his crew. It was only determined to be a forgery in the late 1970s. Members of a historical society, E Clampus Vitus, had created it as a practical joke on one of their own members, but the joke spun out of their control. [berkeley.edu]


Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2014.   Comments (0)

Bigfoot in New York — Veteran prank artist Joey Skaggs was up to his old tricks recently. At the beginning of June, he sent out a press release announcing that on June 7 the Tiny Top Circus ("the world's only pataphysical circus") would come to New York's Washington Square Park, where it would have "Bigfoot, the 8th Wonder of the World" on display. June 7 arrived and, as promised, the Tiny Top Circus showed up. It turned out to be Skaggs on a tricycle on which was mounted a tiny bigtop tent. Actually, the tricycle looks very similar to the one he used in his "Portofess" (portable confessional) hoax back… Continue…
Posted: Mon Jun 16, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 16, 1946: Jim Moran Hatches an Egg
Publicity man Jim Moran began sitting on an ostrich egg, taking the place of the mother ostrich who supposedly refused to sit on it. He wore special "hatching pants" and sat in a "hatching chair" (a wheelchair with a compartment for the egg) in order to keep it warm. The egg hatched 19 days later. The stunt was designed to promote the 1947 movie "The Egg and I." More…


Posted: Mon Jun 16, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 15, 1936: A.D. Lindsay Acquires the Universe
On this day in 1936, Arthur Dean Lindsay had a deed of claim notarized declaring his ownership of "all of the property known as planets, islands-of-space or other matter." He subsequently filed this deed at the Irwin County Courthouse in Ocilla, Georgia, where it was recorded in the Deed Book. After bringing his ownership rights to the attention of reporters, Lindsay became widely known as the "man who owns the universe." Although skeptics questioned what gave Irwin County the right to give deeds to the heavenly bodies.


Posted: Sun Jun 15, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 14, 1870: Burial of Emile Coudé
On this day in 1870, the French doctor Emile Coudé, inventor of the curved "Coudé Catheter" used by urologists to relieve urinary obstruction, was buried in a churchyard at Villeneuve-la-Comtesse. Except that he wasn't. The man and his biography were invented as a joke by Welsh medical students in the 1950s. Some physicians didn't realize it was a joke and referred to the man in medical textbooks. A few sources still mistakenly claim that the coudé catheter was named after a French physician. In reality, the coudé catheter was invented by Louis Mercier (1811-1882). In French, coudé (the adjective) means bent; coude (the noun) means elbow. More…


Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 13, 1971: "Hanoi John"
On this day in 1971, John Kerry spoke at the Register for Peace Rally in Long Island. Thirty-three years later, during Kerry's 2004 presidential election campaign, a picture surfaced of him at the rally apparently on stage with Jane Fonda. The image circulated widely, but was soon identified as a politically motivated forgery attempting to link him to Fonda, who was widely reviled by conservatives. Fonda had not attended the rally. Her image had been composited into the photo. More…


Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 12, 1922: Margherita Hack Born
Margherita Hack (1922-2013) was an Italian astrophysicist, known also for being a vegetarian, feminist, and outspoken atheist. In 2005, she famously debunked the annual "miracle" of the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro by noting that the substance contained in a phial in Naples Cathedral was simply hydrated iron oxide, which looks very much like blood, but liquefies when shaken. She said, "There is nothing mystical about this. You can make the so-called blood in your kitchen at home." This observation sparked widespread outrage in Italy. [The Telegraph]


Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014.   Comments (0)

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.