The Museum of Hoaxes
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Hoaxes Throughout History
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Today's Featured Topic:
The Great Moon Hoax of 1835
Fake caterpillar fungus — Chinese food inspectors have issued a warning to those planning to buy caterpillar fungus: Many samples of caterpillar fungus have been replaced by fakes. These fakes "not only miss their medicinal function, but could even be poisonous." According to Wikipedia, caterpillar fungus is one of the most prized ingredients in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine: it is used as an aphrodisiac and as a treatment for a variety of ailments from fatigue to cancer. It is regarded as having…
Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008.   Comments (1)

McElhone in movie about James Barry — The Guardian reports that Natasha McElhone is slated to play Dr. James Barry in an upcoming film to be titled Heaven and Earth. Barry was the nineteenth-century British woman who disguised herself as a man in order to become a doctor. (See my post from earlier this year.) The film is apparently focusing on the rumored romance between Barry and Lord Somerset: James Purefoy, recently seen as Mark Antony in the TV series Rome, will play Lord Somerset, a diplomat who sacrifices his…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (1)

Weird Fragrances — I stumbled across this site, weirdfragrances.com (I'm not linking directly to them, so I won't boost their google rank), that promises to send you a free sample of cologne. In return you simply provide them with your email and mailing address, and promise to later answer a few questions about the fragrance. You can choose from a variety of offbeat scents such as Grease Monkey, Burning Rubber, or Ash Tray. Is it a legit offer? I would guess not. First, it strikes me as odd that the…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (2)

Heart’s Letter to John McCain — The following cease-and-desist letter, supposedly written by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart to John McCain, has started doing the rounds. Warning: NSFW language! Is it real? Well, the Wilsons did email out a statement asking the Republican campaign not to use their music, and in a phone interview, after the Republicans used their music anyway, Nancy Wilson said, "I feel completely f--ed over." However, the article above seems to be satire. It comes from Seattle's The Stranger…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (5)


Is Roger Ebert a Creationist? — Yesterday the film critic Roger Ebert posted an article to his website that reads very much like an endorsement of creationism. It starts: Questions and answers on Creationism, which should be discussed in schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution: Q. When was the earth created? A. Archbishop James Usher, working out a chronology from the Bible, calculated in 1654 that the earth was created on the night of October 23, 4004 B.C. Other timetables reach back as far as 10,000…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (14)

Hoax Photo Database: Recent Additions — What I've added during the past week to the Hoax Photo Database: U.S. Army Releases Doctored Photographs Bob Owen of the San Antonio Express-News noticed that these two photos released by the U.S. Army of soldiers recently killed in Iraq were almost identical, except for the soldiers' face, name, and rank. Oswald's Backyard Photo This photo of Lee Harvey Oswald posing with a rifle in his backyard is one of the most hotly debated photos in history. Conspiracy theorists continue to argue…
Posted: Mon Sep 22, 2008.   Comments (0)

Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret — The Yale Center for British Art is hosting an exhibition about an obscure 18th-century art hoax (one that I had never heard of before). The exhibition is titled "Benjamin West and the Venetian Secret" -- which makes it sound a bit like a new Harry Potter novel. From Art Knowledge News: In 1796 Benjamin West, the American-born President of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, fell victim to a remarkable fraud. A shadowy figure, Thomas Provis, and his artist daughter, Ann Jemima Provis,…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Mystery Coffin — A woman walking her dog in the Welsh countryside recently found an empty coffin sitting in the middle of a field. The coffin had a note in it: "Jump in, you're next." No one knows who put the coffin there, but the likely suspects are local students since it's freshman week and there have been other pranks in the region, such as "a tree full of knickers and a young driver sticky taped into his car." Link: North Wales Chronicle
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (4)

Chi-Rho Amulet is a Fake — Researchers have determined that the Chi-Rho Amulet, found in Shepton Mallet in 1990, is a fake. When it was first discovered in a Roman grave eighteen years ago, it was thought to be the earliest Christian artifact ever found in Britain. Local residents were so excited by the discovery that they named an entertainment center and a street after it. But tests indicate that the silver in the amulet is of nineteenth-century origin. Suspicion is focusing on protesters who were opposed to…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (1)

Frenchman Collides Sacredly with Nessie — Frenchman Don Jean Habrey, whose stage name is Hors Humain (beyond human), has announced his intention to embark on a "sacred collision with Nessie." Specifically, he plans to dive into Loch Ness and "breathe with the monster to send ultimate breathing to the world of childhood.” Later, he'll make a Christmas Eve visit to the Loch and "conjure the mythical creature from the loch, with chants, drumming, burning flares and bonfires round the shore." “Nessie will breathe golden pearls…
Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008.   Comments (2)

Once a con artist, always a con artist — Tony Golossian is accused of repeatedly luring a woman to motels, where he then blindfolded and sexually assaulted her. He told her it was all part of a ritual to remove a "black magic" curse on her family. If she didn't agree to participate, her 15-year-old sister would supposedly develop breast cancer and her "fallopian tubes would no longer function." Adding insult to injury, the woman paid him almost $100,000 for these "prayer sessions." I hate to blame the victim, but is there…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (4)

A fake horse dressed in PVC — Problem: the Cleveland Bay, the breed of horse used to pull the Queen's Royal carriage, was dying out. Solution: a fake horse dressed in PVC clothing which is being used to seduce the few stallions that remain. The fake horse is named "Doris." "The scientists who designed and built Doris quickly discovered her partner - much like certain humans - performed better if she wore PVC." That's another factoid to add to my ever-growing fund of useless trivia.
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (3)

Cat Hoaxes — Axonoid.com promises that they'll eventually have a list of 11 cat hoaxes. In part 1 they have five: Elvis the Robo-Cat Bonsai Kittens The one-eyed kitten (which was real!) Painted Cats Snowball the Monster Cat The article is worth a look if only to rewatch the video of Elvis the Robo-Cat.
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (3)

Pietro Psaier: Real or Hoax? — Pietro Psaier was an artist whose works fetch thousands of dollars. He was said to be a friend of Andy Warhol, which helps his saleability. But the question now perplexing the art world is whether Psaier ever actually existed. This, from the Telegraph, is the little that's known about his life: Information provided by an agent for the artist's estate states that Psaier was born in Italy in 1936 and died in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. He left Italy as a young man and went to…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (1)

Poe’s Law and TrueChristians.com — Poe's Law, coined by Nathan Poe on the Christian Forums site, states: in general, it is hard to tell fake fundamentalism from the real thing, since they both sound equally ridiculous. The law also works in reverse: real fundamentalism can also be indistinguishable from parody fundamentalism. Cranky Media Guy recently submitted an example: truechristian.com. It contains passages such as: So God put Adam to sleep and ripped out one of his ribs and behold, we find out that women…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (5)

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