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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: History
Ancient Book of Psalms Found In Irish Bog — Status: Seems to be real A guy was out digging in an irish bog recently when, purely by chance, he found a book buried in the mud. Turns out that it could be a book of psalms over 1000 years old. Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, points out that this discovery was highly fortuitous: "There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out. First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be…
Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2006.   Comments (13)

Strange Coincidence: Titanic Disaster Foretold — Status: True (kind of, though I wouldn't use the word 'foretold') 2spare.com offers a list of the Top 15 Strangest Coincidences. It's an interesting list (Thanks for the link, Kathy!), and as far as I can tell all the coincidences they list are basically true. Or, at least, they've all been widely reported, and I haven't been able to find any false statements in them yet. (I didn't analyze all of them that closely.) But one coincidence I found particularly interesting, that I hadn't…
Posted: Thu Jul 13, 2006.   Comments (27)

Photograph of Mozart’s Widow — Status: Probably a hoax Last week the London Times printed a photo that, so it claimed, was the only known photograph of Mozart's widow (Constanze), taken in 1840 at the home of Swiss composer Max Keller when she was 78 years old. (She's supposedly the woman on the far left.) However, the photo has generated controversy online, where a number of scholars have labeled it a hoax. The Sounds & Fury blog cites Agnes Selby, author of a biography of Constanze Mozart, who writes that: this…
Posted: Wed Jul 12, 2006.   Comments (5)

Was Franklin’s Electric Kite Experiment a Hoax? — Status: Scholarly debate Last weekend Philadelphia celebrated the anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's electric kite experiment (in which he flew a kite during a thunderstorm and proved that lightning was a form of electricity). They did so despite the fact that many believe the experiment was a hoax... that it never happened. The Philadelphia Inquirer provides a summary of this debate. The main proponent of the electric-kite-hoax theory is Tom Tucker, author of Bolt of Fate: Benjamin…
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006.   Comments (26)


Victorian Rock Music — Status: True Most people think rock music got its start as an identifiable genre in the 1950s with artists such as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. Not so. As Paul Collins points out in the current issue of The Believer, there was a thriving tradition of rock music during the nineteenth century. In fact, rock music was invented in 1785 by a retired sailor named Peter Crosthwaite in the Lake District village of Keswick. Of course, the nineteenth-century version of rock music…
Posted: Mon Jun 05, 2006.   Comments (8)

Florida Accountant Descended From Genghis Khan — Status: Apparently True Tom Robinson, a mild-mannered professor of Accounting living in Florida, has been identified as a descendant of the fierce Mongol warlord, Genghis Khan. When informed of his ancestor, Robinson expressed admiration for the Mongol leader, but has not yet indicated any plans to begin a campaign of raping and pillaging. Although it sounds odd, the science behind the claim seems valid enough. It stems from a 2003 genetic study that identified Genghis Khan as the…
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006.   Comments (16)

Cardiff Giant Video — I'm getting a little carried away with the newfound ability to upload videos to YouTube, but bear with me. I've only got a few of them to share. Here's a video I took last year (July 2005) at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, New York, current home of the Cardiff Giant. The guy in historical dress was an actor/storyteller giving a dramatic account of the Cardiff Giant hoax to the school children you can see gathered around. At one point during the video I pan left and you can see a…
Posted: Wed May 24, 2006.   Comments (0)

In Memory of Father Noise — Status: Believed to be a hoax Here's an interesting news report from Ireland: It has emerged that a joke bronze plaque found on Dublin's O'Connell Bridge has been there for three years. The plaque claims to mark the spot where a Father Pat Noise drowned when his carriage plunged into the Liffey, in suspicious circumstances, in 1919. But Dublin City Council says the priest is a fictitious figure, and wants the mystery sculptor to come forward. The plaque is arousing great public…
Posted: Tue May 09, 2006.   Comments (11)

Bosnian Pyramids — Status: Looks like a hoax The discovery of massive pyramids in Bosnia was widely reported in the news last month (at which point Beasjt posted about it in the Hoax Forum). The discovery was made by a Bosnian-American businessman named Semir Osmanagic, who has been actively pursuing Chariots-of-the-Gods-style archaeology for the past fifteen years, mostly in Mexico and Central America. (He believes the Mayans were descended from Atlanteans who came from the Pleiades... you can read…
Posted: Sat May 06, 2006.   Comments (10)

Ancient Buddha Figurines Found in California River — Status: Undetermined A resident of the town of Colfax (northern California) claims to have found hundreds of ancient Buddha figurines buried in the American River: Herman Henry says he found about 400 of the Buddha carvings in a washed out sandbar along the River more than a month ago. The thumb-sized, white carvings may be hundreds of years old. And now federal and state investigators are looking into the discovery and are looking for Mr. Henry. He found them in a state park. It's…
Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2006.   Comments (9)

Ancient Pottery Recorded Audio — Status: Hoax The Raw Feed has linked to a video (in French) in which Belgian archaeologists discuss how they were able to "use computer scans of the grooves in 6,500-year-old pottery to extract sounds -- including talking and laughter -- made by the vibrations of the tools used to make the pottery." The video is fairly good quality and would lead you to believe that it might be real, if it weren't for the premise being pretty farfetched (and not reported anywhere else in the news).
Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006.   Comments (23)

Sami Fleshscraper — Status: Possible prank Forty years after stealing a "Sami Fleshscraper" from a Norwegian museum, the contrite thief has mailed the item back. Problem is, the museum has no idea what the object is. From the article on Yahoo News: "For 40 years I have enjoyed this rare tool in my home. In my old age ... I have now decided to return it to the descendants of those who imagined it, built it and used it," the anonymous thief wrote in a typed letter sent to the embassy just before Christmas.…
Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2006.   Comments (14)

Feminist Icons Admit to Prank — Status: Confession of a prank Back in 1970 a picture was taken showing four young women waving placards with messages such as "Ban the Man" and "Down with Men and Marriage." The picture became a symbol of feminism. But thirty-five years later, the women have confessed that their anti-man protest was just a prank. Margot Ducat explains: "One day my colleagues - Jo Vincent, Sue James and Shirley Francis - found a wedding dress stuffed in one of the cupboards. Quite why someone left it…
Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2006.   Comments (28)

Plymouth Rock Pieces on eBay — Status: Scam According to legend, Plymouth Rock was the first thing the pilgrims set foot upon when they landed in Massachusetts. I think that the rock itself is now on display in Plymouth. But United Press International reports that pieces of the Rock are popping up on eBay where they're fetching as much as $900. The catch is that there's absolutely no way to verify that these really are pieces of the original Plymouth Rock. A lot of people did carve off chunks of Plymouth Rock during…
Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005.   Comments (13)

Black League Basketball — Status: Never Existed Remember the Black Basketball League? Its teams (including favorites such as the Newark Eagles, Harlem Knights, Baltimore Crabs, West Philly Dancers and Cleveland Ebonies) competed from 1920-40, when they were shut out of the all-white league. Consumers can now honor the memory of this league by buying sportswear emblazoned with the team logos. Of course, if you don't remember this league, it might be because historians insist that it never existed. But Eric…
Posted: Wed Nov 16, 2005.   Comments (32)

Fake Family Software — Status: Hoax-facilitating software Genealogists are in an uproar about new software that allows people to create fake (but real looking) online family trees. The program is called Fake Family. (Because of the controversy, the website of the software maker is now given over to an Open Letter to Genealogists.) Genealogists argue that the fake information created by this program could easily find its way into real family history databases. They also charge that the only purpose of the…
Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005.   Comments (56)

The Bear on the California Flag Should Have Been a Pear — Status: Hoax A reporter for Inside Bay Area (I don't know his name... it's not given with the article) recently recounted how his granddaughter told him that the bear on the California flag was originally supposed to be a pear. Back in 1846, Capt. Jedediah Bartlett, leader of a band of rebels fighting against the Mexican authorities in California, supposedly drew up a flag for the future state. He thought a pear, as a symbol of the region's agriculture, would be a fitting symbol. But…
Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005.   Comments (15)

Lincoln Death Photo — Status: Authentic In my hoax photo gallery I display a picture of the body of Abraham Lincoln lying in a casket and explain that the photo is fake because the army didn't allow any photos of Lincoln's body to be taken. But I just received an email from Rich noting that there is one authentic picture of Lincoln's corpse, and he's right. A photographer did manage to snap a shot of the dead Lincoln as he was lying in state in Manhattan's City Hall. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had the…
Posted: Tue Sep 20, 2005.   Comments (29)

Michelangelo’s Laocoon — It's already well known that Michelangelo dabbled in art forgery. That's not disputed. For instance, there's his famous forgery of the Sleeping Cupid. However, Lynn Catterson of Columbia University thinks that a much more high-profile forgery should be attributed to him. She believes that Michelangelo forged The Laocoon, which has long been regarded as one of the most important pieces of ancient Greek sculpture in existence. She points out that Michelangelo was present when The Laocoon…
Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2005.   Comments (19)

Mickey’s Gala Premiere — In September 1939 the fledgling BBC television service was shut down because of the start of World War II. According to legend, transmission was ended in the middle of a broadcast of a Disney cartoon called "Mickey's Gala Premiere." When transmission resumed six years later an announcer came on the air and said, "Well now, where were we?" The Disney cartoon then began to play from the exact spot in which it had left off all those years ago. Is this story true? Almost, but not quite.
Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2005.   Comments (7)

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