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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Journalism
King Tut’s Golden Typewriter — The Canadian journalist Hector Charlesworth included the following story in the second volume of his memoirs (More Candid Chronicles) published in 1928: A man designed by providence to add to the gaiety of nations was Charles Langdon Clarke, the cable editor [at Toronto's The Mail and Empire], a position he still holds as I write. Clarke, the son of an English rector, was the best educated of all the staff and had been a school mate of Lord Curzon. He had come to Canada originally as…
Posted: Fri Aug 16, 2013.   Comments (1)

Banksy Arrest Hoax — A press release posted yesterday on PRLog.com announced that not only had Banksy been arrested (on charges of vandalism, conspiracy, racketeering and counterfeiting), but that his identity had been revealed—his real name supposedly being "Paul William Horner." The press release was a hoax, but a number of media outlets ran with the story before cottoning on to the deception. A humor site, IYWIB.com, appears to be behind the hoax. How a Fake Press Release Convinced the Internet Banksy…
Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2013.   Comments (3)

Johan Lehrer tries to understand himself — In July 2012, science writer Jonah Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker under a cloud of shame, after it was revealed that his latest book, Imagine, was full of fabricated quotations. Yesterday, he took what he may have been hoping was a first step toward rehabilitating his public image by giving a confessional talk at a Knight Foundation seminar in Miami. If image-rehabilitation was his goal, it probably didn't work, because most of the coverage of his talk was snarky and cynical…
Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013.   Comments (0)

Sarah Palin isn’t joining the Al-Jazeera Network — File this under Satire Mistaken As News. Washington Post blogger Suzi Parker reported that Sarah Palin was going to start contributing to the Al Jazeera America news network, as a way to "stay relevant." The source for this info was an article on the humor site Daily Currant. Parker's blog post is now prefaced by a correction, and the erroneous info has been deleted. What Parker originally wrote was: Late last week Al Jazeera America announced the former vice-presidential candidate…
Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013.   Comments (0)


The Disappearance of Rozel, 1897 — Rozel is a small town in the middle of Kansas. Population: 156. It was founded in 1886 — its main reason for existence being that it served as a stop on the Santa Fe railroad line. Throughout its history, it hasn't been in the news much. The one time it did receive national attention was back in 1897 when it supposedly disappeared, swallowed up by a giant sinkhole. The report of its disappearance went out in November 1897 and appeared in papers nationwide, including the New York Times:
Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2013.   Comments (2)

A Global Warming Hoax from 1874 — 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.…
Posted: Mon May 21, 2012.   Comments (0)

Story about jilted woman who pulled out all her ex-boyfriend’s teeth turns out to be a hoax — At the end of April, a news story was widely reported involving a jilted Polish woman, Anna Maćkowiak, who got revenge on her ex-boyfriend by pulling out all his teeth. Seems she was a dentist, and he made the mistake of showing up at her practice complaining of toothache. So she sedated him, and set to work. He woke up later with no toothache, and no teeth. This got posted over at Weird Universe (though not by me), but it didn't trigger any hoax alarms in my head. But it should have.…
Posted: Wed May 09, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Maureen Dowd Plagiarism Defense, or ‘I thought I was copying my friend, not you!’ — Craig Silverman has coined a term for a new kind of excuse popular with writers caught plagiarizing. It's the Maureen Dowd Plagiarism Defense. He explains: In 2009, Dowd used close to 50 words from a John Marshall post on Talking Points Memo. She didn't offer any attribution. The words were presented as her own, and that led to accusations of plagiarism, and to a correction being issued. The Dowd Defense emerged when she reached out to a variety of websites to explain how it happened.…
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2012.   Comments (2)

The Great Wall of China Hoax—The Play — Another famous hoax has made its way onto the stage. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is staging a production of the "Great Wall Story" from March 16 to April 22. The play tells the story of the Great Wall of China Hoax from 1899, in which a group of Denver reporters cooked up a story claiming that China had decided to tear down the Great Wall, and was inviting American firms to bid on the demolition project. The play gets a good review from the Denver Post. Check out a scene below.
Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Continuing Troubles of Stephen Glass — Former media hoaxer Stephen Glass, whose exploits were depicted in the movie Shattered Glass, is back in the news. It seems that his career since getting fired from the New Republic has been a bit rocky. He made $140,000 from his 2003 semi-autobiographical novel, The Fabulist, but that money didn't last too long. In recent years, he's been trying to become a lawyer. According to SFGate.com, he passed the bar exam and applied for an attorney's license in 2007, but the State Bar of…
Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012.   Comments (1)

My Great Moon Hoax Data Dump — Way back when, in the mid-1990s, the hoax that initially got me hooked on studying hoaxes was the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. I remember coming across a brief reference to it in a book — I can't remember which book anymore — and being so intrigued by it that I immediately started tracking down more information about it. Then I decided to devote a chapter in my doctoral dissertation to it. I never finished the dissertation. Got a bit sidetracked. But I did spend a lot of time researching…
Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011.   Comments (1)

Dobrica Cosic Doesn’t Win the Nobel Prize — Serbian media reported Thursday that one of their own countrymen, writer Dobrica Cosic, had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, he hadn't. Soon after, the Swedish Academy announced the real winner: Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. The Serbian media reported Cosic as the winner because they had all received an email, seeming to come from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, announcing Cosic as the winner. The email linked to a website, nobelprizeliterature.org, that seemed…
Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2011.   Comments (0)

The Script Kiddies Strike Again — There's a long history of hoaxers finding ways to slip fake stories into newspapers. Back in 1864 Joseph Howard tried to manipulate the New York stock market by sending fake Associated Press telegrams to newspaper offices. The telegrams claimed Lincoln had decided to conscript an extra 400,000 men into the Union army. Several papers printed the fake news. The stock market panicked, because the news suggested the Civil War was going to drag on for a lot longer, and Howard (who had…
Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2011.   Comments (1)

Fox News Falsifies Footage of Protest — Fox News reminds me of William Randolph Hearst. They're no longer even trying to be subtle about falsifying the news. In particular, the latest from Fox News reminds me of something Hearst's New York Mirror did back in 1932. Here (in the words of Curtis MacDougall) is the 1932 incident: In 1932 the New York Mirror ran a picture allegedly of hunger marchers storming Buckingham Palace in London. It was revealed that the scene actually was of a 1929 crowd gathered anxiously during the…
Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009.   Comments (32)

Mr. Man on the Street Strikes Again — I wrote about Greg Packer, aka the phony Man on the Street, in Hippo Eats Dwarf: In 2003, media critics noticed that the same man kept popping up time after time in “man on the street” interviews. Greg Packer, a highway maintenance worker from upstate New York, was quoted by The New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the London Times, and other publications. He also appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. But he was always…
Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009.   Comments (1)

Man Sues Over Lack of Axe Effect — A news story is circulating claiming that an Indian man, 26-year-old Vaibhav Bedi, has sued Axe deodorant (aka Lynx in Europe) because he failed to land a single girlfriend after using their product for seven years. It's in The Australian and the Daily Record, among other news sources. This is an example of satire being mistaken as news. According to Asylum.com: Axe spokesperson Heather Mitchell sent Asylum this statement: "We've been following the news reports from India where a…
Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009.   Comments (2)

Newspaper claims Armstrong admitted moon landing was a hoax — Satire mistaken as news: On Monday, August 31 The Onion published an article claiming that Neil Armstrong had been convinced, after watching a few "persuasive YouTube videos," that "his historic first step on the moon was part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the United States government." A few days later this claim was picked up by a Bangladeshi newspaper, the Daily Manab Zamin, and run as fact. The paper has now apologized for its mistake, noting "We've since learned that the fun…
Posted: Fri Sep 04, 2009.   Comments (3)

Vinayak Gorur, sous chef — On May 13, 2009 the Ahwatukee Foothills News ran an article about Vinayak Gorur, a local guy who, at the age of 21, had become the youngest ever sous chef at the upscale Compass Restaurant in downtown Phoenix. But a few days ago, the paper ran an apology, admitting that Gorur wasn't really a sous chef at the Compass. Gorur had invented the entire tale. Why isn't clear. A few things evidently went wrong in the paper's fact checking process. First, they never called the Compass…
Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009.   Comments (14)

Fake Air France Footage — Posted by Peter in the forum: TV station airs Lost as Air France crash footage A BOLIVIAN television news channel has been left red-faced after falling for a hoax that saw it claim pictures from the hit TV show Lost were actually the last moment of Air France flight AF447 before it plunged into the ocean on June 1. Source This confirms my theory that should a suitably dramatic picture of a major event not exist, one will be created. It's because our culture craves visual images. And…
Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2009.   Comments (1)

Wikipedia Hoax — Irish student Shane Fitzgerald conducted an experiment to test whether journalists blindly rely upon wikipedia as a source of information. Shortly after composer Maurice Jarre died, Fitzgerald placed a false quote on the wikipedia page about him, claiming Jarre had said: "One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing…
Posted: Thu May 07, 2009.   Comments (9)

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