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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Death
Tortoise Survives in Closet for 30 Years
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 27, 2013
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 this be? A Brazilian vet is quoted as saying that red-footed tortoises (Manuela's species) can go up to 2 or 3 years without food. But not 30 years! To explain this,…
Categories: Animals, Death Comments (2)
Samuel Shepherd: the 125-year-old Man
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 09, 2012
Samuel "Old Uncle Sam" Shepherd had a hard but interesting life. He was a slave who managed to buy his freedom, and lived on until 1909. But it's his birthdate that generates more interest than the date of his death. His grave marker in Oak Hill Cemetery (Lawrence, Kansas) lists his birthdate as 1784. This would make him 125 years old when he died. If true, he would potentially be the oldest person ever to have lived. According to wikipedia, Jeanne Calment of France holds the record for the oldest unambiguously documented human lifespan. She died at the age of 122 in 1997. Christian Mortensen, who…
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine Comments (3)
Was John Travolta replaced by a double in 1991?
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 23, 2012
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…
A Global Warming Hoax from 1874
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 21, 2012
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. The premise was that scientists had discovered the earth was getting hotter and hotter. Europe was predicted to be tropical in 12 years, and soon after that the planet would become too hot to support life.…
Categories: Death, Journalism, Science Comments (0)
Death by Gatorade Shower
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 18, 2012
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 (Allen noted that due to the budget issues, the team could not afford actual Gatorade, so it was just ice water). Six weeks later, Allen died. The story is most…
Categories: Death, Sports, Urban Legends Comments (0)
RIP Mike McGrady
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 17, 2012
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 better once it was exposed as a hoax, demonstrating that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Mike McGrady Mike…
Was Junior Seau’s death predicted on Craigslist? (of course not)
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 07, 2012
The death last week of former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau was big news here in San Diego. But then, as deadspin.com reports, a rumor began circulating that his death had been predicted on Craigslist. Specifically, on May 1, a day before Seau died, this post apparently was posted on San Diego Craigslist: The solution to this is simple. Someone must have edited the post after the fact to turn it into an accurate prediction. Either that, or Nostradamus has come back from the grave and is lurking around Craigslist. (But then, the prediction should have been in the form of a quatrain.)
Categories: Death, Sports Comments (0)
Controversy over Egyptian ‘Farewell Intercourse Law’
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 30, 2012
Late last week a strange story emerged alleging that Egypt's parliament was considering a 'Farewell Intercourse Law' to make it legal for Egyptian husbands to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after death. Why six hours? I assume to make sure the tender last moments are wrapped up before rigor mortis fully sets in. Though according to Wikipedia, rigor mortis begins after 3 to 4 hours, so that might be a bit awkward. Naturally a lot of news orgs ran the story without bothering to do any kind of fact-checking. Then they had to backpedal after it became apparent there wasn't any kind of truth to the report.
Categories: Death, Sex/Romance Comments (2)
New Research Suggests Link Between Welsh Rugby And Papal Deaths
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 23, 2012
In December 2008, two doctors published a study in the journal BMJ investigating what they called the "urban legend" that there's a link between Welsh rugby and papal deaths. Specifically, that "every time Wales win the rugby grand slam, a Pope dies, except for 1978 when Wales were really good, and two Popes died." They found that there was indeed a "borderline significant (P=0.047) association between Welsh performance and the number of papal deaths but no significant association between papal mortality and performance of any other home nation." But despite this weak association, they nevertheless dismissed the theory of the pope-rugby link as "nothing more than an urban myth, based largely on two…
Categories: Death, Sports Comments (0)
The Saint of Rice Excrements
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 17, 2012
Back in ninth-century Japan, there was a religious charlatan who earned the title bei-fun-hijiri or "saint of rice excrements". Before telling how he acquired this title, I should relate how I came across his story, which was in a rather roundabout way. First, I came across a post on the Of Small Wonders & Great Wanders blog about the ancient art of self-mummification, developed by ascetic monks of the Shingon sect in northern Japan: It was initiated by Kobo Daishi (774-835), who took the decision to end his days meditating in a cave. His disciples later found that his body was mummified, which was quite mystical! The Sokushinbutsu tradition developed from there…
Categories: Death, Food, Religion Comments (0)
Bank of America Declares Man Dead
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 14, 2012
If you're declared dead on twitter, it doesn't mean much anymore — especially if you're Justin Bieber. But if a major bank declares you dead, that can really screw up your finances if you happen to still be alive. This happened to Arthur Livingston (who lives, oddly enough, in a town called Prosperity). Bank of America reported him dead. Livingston only found this out when he tried to get a new mortgage. But no one would loan him money because he was supposed to be dead. It cost Livingston thousands of dollars to sort out the mistake. Bank of America has apologized, but of course, it hasn't offered him any compensation for its screw-up. Link:
Categories: Business/Finance, Death Comments (0)
The Fake Death of Cheetah the Chimp
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 01, 2012
As far as death hoaxes goes, this is a strange one, both because it involves a chimp and also because it's a fake death report of someone who died long ago. The story began last week, around Christmas, when it was reported that Cheetah, the chimp who played Tarzan's sidekick in the 1930s Tarzan films, had died at the ripe old age of 80. He had apparently spent the last decades of his life at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Florida. The cause of death was kidney failure. I remember seeing the headlines about the death and thinking it was odd a chimp could live that long. And sure enough, primate experts…
Categories: Animals, Death Comments (1)
RIP Geoffrey Crawley
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 16, 2010
Geoffrey Crawley, who played a role in debunking the Cottingley Fairy hoax, died recently on October 29. The New York Times ran an interesting article about his life. From the article: From the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, Mr. Crawley was editor in chief of the magazine British Journal of Photography. His 10-part series exposing the Cottingley fairy photographs as fakes appeared there in 1982 and 1983. Mr. Crawley had been asked to determine the authenticity of the photos in the late 1970s. “My instant reaction was amusement that it could be thought that the photographs depicted actual beings,” he wrote in 2000. But he came to believe, as he wrote, that “the photographic world had a…
Categories: Death, Photos/Videos Comments (7)
Martin Smid; he’s still not dead!
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 19, 2009
November 17 was the 20th anniversary of the Czech "velvet revolution." One of the events that triggered it was the spread of a rumor alleging that mathematics student Martin Smid had been beaten to death by police. Smid, however, was very much alive, and he still is. To this day, he has no idea how his name got attached to the rumor. From agonist.org: After a bloody crackdown on a non-violent student march in Prague on November 17, 1989, a woman falsely claimed that the riot police had beaten to death her…
Categories: Death Comments (5)
Treasure hunt prank, from beyond the grave
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 05, 2009
Patty Henken found a small envelope in a rocking chair she bought at auction. In the envelope was a key and a note giving her directions to where $250 in U.S. gold coins was supposedly buried in a lead chest. The note was signed "Chauncey Wolcott." There was also a request to contact the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, if the treasure was found. The Associated Press tells the rest: With help of a donated backhoe, Patty Henken tore up a vacant lot in Springfield, Ill... The dig turned up nothing but bricks and old bottles. Henken planned…
Categories: Death, Pranks Comments (12)
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