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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Journalism
Punishing linkbaiters? — On May 9, money.co.uk published a story alleging that a 13-year-old kid in Texas had stolen his dad's credit card and used it to rent a motel room and some prostitutes. The cute/quirky part of the story was that the kids simply played Xbox with the "$1,000 a night girls." The story quickly spread throughout the media, appearing in The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, and Fox News, among others. But a few days later it was exposed as a hoax, since the police had no record of such an incident.…
Posted: Sat May 24, 2008.   Comments (16)

Hitler Doll — About two weeks ago a story started going around alleging that an Adolf Hitler doll, marketed to children, was being sold in the Ukraine. From the Daily Mail: One saleswoman said: "It is like Barbie. Kids can undress fuhrer, pin on medals and there's a spare head in the kit to give him a kinder expression on his face. "He has glasses that are round, in the manner of pacifist Jon Lennon". The doll will also come with accessories like a miniature Blondi, Hitler's faithful Alsatian who…
Posted: Mon May 05, 2008.   Comments (10)

Wrong Hillary — From the March 19th edition of the Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle: It was incorrectly reported in Tuesday’s Tribune Chronicle that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton answered questions from voters in a local congressman’s office. Reporter John Goodall, who was assigned to the story, spoke by telephone with Hillary Wicai Viers, who is a communications director in U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s staff. According to the reporter, when Viers answered the phone with ‘‘This is Hillary,’’ he believed…
Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2008.   Comments (8)

Is Blue the new Green? — In what is one of the most absurd articles I've read in a while, Chicago Tribune reporter Nara Schoenberg tries to argue that "blue" is the new "green". In other words, green (as a symbol of environmentalism) is old hat. So people are now starting to say "blue" instead of "green". Her main evidence is that Mercedes-Benz calls its new clean-diesel technology BLUETEC. And a few environmental websites have blue pages. I refer to this journalistic technique in Hippo Eats Dwarf as the…
Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2008.   Comments (7)


Twins get married… or maybe not — Last week this story was EVERYWHERE. A pair of twins in Britain, who had been adopted into different families, met and fell in love... without realizing they were twins. They then got married, only to discover the terrible secret they shared. Their marriage was promptly annulled. When I first read about this, it sounded pretty fishy to me -- very much like an urban legend being reported as news -- but on a cursory reading of the story I also got the impression that there were officials…
Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008.   Comments (15)

Non-Smokers Not Fired — Last week quite a few papers ran this story: NON-SMOKERS NEED NOT APPLY BERLIN -- The owner of a small German computer company has fired three non-smoking workers because they were threatening to push demands for a smoke-free environment. The manager of the 10-member IT company in Buesum, named Thomas J., told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper he had fired the trio because their non-smoking was causing disruptions. "I can't be bothered with trouble-makers," Thomas said. "We're on the…
Posted: Tue Jan 15, 2008.   Comments (5)

Hippo Goes For A Swim — Here's a story I missed last month, even though it occurred right here in my backyard (figuratively speaking). FoxSports.com took the lead in disseminating it, but versions of it, such as the one below (from the Seattle Times) appeared in many papers: The San Diego Chargers moved their practice operations to Arizona during last week's devastating fires in Southern California, depriving special-teams coach Steve Crosby of a genuine Kodak moment back home. As Jay Glazer reported at…
Posted: Thu Nov 29, 2007.   Comments (1)

The Sound of Quintuplets Crying — When a Russian woman recently gave birth to quintuplets, it made news around the world. But BBC viewers who watched the footage of the babies might have thought something was a little odd. Why were the babies crying, even though they had respirators in their mouths? It turns out the cries were dubbed in: The BBC has admitted that it added the sound of crying to a report yesterday on the birth of a set of quintuplets. It is the latest in a series of rows over fakery to hit the…
Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2007.   Comments (7)

How to cure internet addiction — Here's a news story that's been making the rounds recently. This case is said to have occurred in Chengdu city, China: Jiang Ming promised his wife, He Ling, that he would not go on the internet any more and would spend more time at home. But he started to sneak into internet cafes again to have video chats with girls. "I was on the internet, and suddenly the arrow on the screen stopped moving, " says Jiang Ming. "Then I found that my right hand was on the mouse pad, and blood was…
Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2007.   Comments (3)

Vicious attacks by girls increasing or decreasing? — Joe Littrell alerted me to an amusing piece on slate.com which takes the air out of a Boston Globe story about the disturbing trend of "Vicious Attacks By Girl Cliques Seen Increasing." Jack Shafer points out that the article contradicts its premise in its own subtitle, where it admits, "Despite Police Statistics, Violence Causing Worries." In other words, police statistics show that girl-on-girl violence is decreasing, but the article tries to spin it the other way, presumably because…
Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2007.   Comments (3)

Fake Al Sharpton Fools MSNBC — Newsgroper is a parody site full of fake celebrity blogs. To make sure that no one confuses its content with real news, it posts the warning "Fake Parody Blogs, Political Humor, Celebrity Satire, Funny Commentary" in the title bar of every page. Apparently, this warning wasn't enough for MSNBC's Alex Johnson. In a piece about Michael Vick, he quoted from Newsgroper's fake Al Sharpton blog, presenting the following quotation as if it were something Sharpton really had said:"If the…
Posted: Mon Aug 27, 2007.   Comments (7)

Reuters Searches for the Titanic beneath North Pole — Last week two Russian submersibles descended to the seabed beneath the North Pole and planted a flag, as a symbolic gesture of staking a claim to much of the Arctic Sea. When Reuters ran the story it seemed to have scooped all of its rivals by obtaining an actual photo of the Russian submarines beneath the North Pole. It ran a picture with the caption: "Russian miniature submarines are seen under water in the Arctic Ocean in this image taken from a television broadcast yesterday." The…
Posted: Sat Aug 11, 2007.   Comments (5)

Cardboard Bun Caper — China's food industry, already reeling from reports of toxins in pet food originating in China, took another blow when Beijing TV recently reported that snack vendors in eastern Beijing were selling "steamed dumplings stuffed with cardboard soaked in caustic soda and seasoned with pork flavoring." Yuck! In this case, however, the accusation appears to have been unwarranted. CNN reports that: Beijing authorities said investigations had found that an employee surnamed Zi had fabricated…
Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007.   Comments (3)

Elizabeth Albanese — The Press Club of Dallas has been a much-respected institution for years, offering the annual Katie awards to journalists for high quality work. Recently, though, the organisation’s reputation has been dealt a crippling blow, with the news that their recent president, Elizabeth Albanese, has been falsifying the award results for at least the past two years. Albanese became involved with the Katies in 2003, the year she first won prizes, and has been reportedly tampering with the…
Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007.   Comments (19)

Man Apologises to Internet — 10zenmonkeys.com has posted an article discussing the interesting law case surrounding Michael Crook. Inspired by the craigslist sex hoax by Jason Fortuny, Michael Crook started up a website to expose ‘perverts’ on the Craigslist site. He’d copied Fortuny’s prank, then posted his results on his webpage. When 10 Zen Monkeys posted a screen shot of Crook taken from a Fox news report on his previous ‘Forsake our Troops’ hoax, Crook responded with an email falsely claiming that he owned the…
Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2007.   Comments (4)

Computer Programme Debunks Pianist — English pianist Joyce Hatto had risen to some prominence over the year preceding her death. Whilst she never played in public, recordings of her performances of works by artists such as Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov and Dukas, produced by her husband from a private studio, had her hailed as an unknown genius. However, an iTunes programme that compares recordings with an online database has thrown her abilities into doubt. A critic for the classical music magazine Gramophone was…
Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2007.   Comments (10)

Quick Links: Chicken Born With Duck Feet, etc. — Chicken Born With Duck Feet A chicken in Columbia has surprised everyone by being born with webbed feet and legs like a duck. Vetinary experts say that the chicken is not a result of cross-species breeding, and is just a genetic mishap. (Thanks, Adam.) Divine Or Delusional? wcbstv.com has a gallery of images showing items on which religious icons have allegedly been found. We've covered a few of them here, but some of the images were new to me. I found I could generally make out the…
Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2007.   Comments (15)

Quick Links: Square Watermelon, etc. — Flora and I have decided on a more efficient way to post links that really don't need (or don't deserve) an entire post of their own. We'll just dump them together in a "quick links" post whenever we accumulate a bunch of them. Should mean more stuff gets posted. Here's the first such set of links: Square Watermelon Soon to be on sale in Britain. Really. "Boxes are placed around the growing fuit which naturally swells to fill the shape." Buy two and get a bonsai kitten free! (Thanks,…
Posted: Mon Aug 07, 2006.   Comments (18)

Journalist Fakes Bill Gates Interview — Status: News Microsoft has accused a Norwegian journalist of fabricating, out of thin air, an interview with Bill Gates. Bjoern Benkow, the journalist in question, claimed that he interviewed Gates while onboard a commercial flight. Gates apparently didn't share any interesting secrets with the guy, only that "rival search engine giant Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) has "been smart," that he never carries more than a "dime" in his pocket and that he occasionally places $1 bets…
Posted: Fri Aug 04, 2006.   Comments (4)

Naked Skydiving — Status: Hoax Here's an amusing article that deserves mention on Regret the Error (the weblog about newspaper corrections), if it isn't already there.Tabloid Aftonbladet has been forced to withdraw an article about naked Swedish skydivers, after it turned out that the paper had been the victim of a hoax. The article, headed "It's wonderful - but cold", described how Stockholm Skydiving Club had celebrated spring by jumping from a height of 4,000 metres in their birthday suits. The paper…
Posted: Fri May 12, 2006.   Comments (7)

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