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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Literature/Language
Article About Plagiarism Plagiarized
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 09, 2006
Status: Purposeful plagiarism A hoax? A ploy? A gimmick? I'm not sure what to call this. Check out this piece by David Edelstein on plagiarism. Now read this, which reveals that Edelstein's piece on plagiarism was, except for the first and last lines, entirely plagiarized from other sources. Very clever! Seriously -- that's pretty neat. Very meta. (This post was plagiarized from Penguins on the Equator... and thanks to Joe Littrell for the heads up about the New York Magazine piece.)
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (5)
Did Idaho Get Its Name As A Result Of A Hoax?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 26, 2006
Status: Undetermined Following a post about how California got its name, Boing Boing added an interesting reader comment alleging that Idaho got its name because of a hoax: "When a name was being selected for new territory, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested 'Idaho,' which he claimed was a Native American term meaning 'gem of the mountains'. It was later revealed Willing had made up the name himself, and the original Idaho territory was re-named Colorado because of it. Eventually the controversy was forgotten, and modern-day Idaho was given the made-up name when the Idaho Territory was formally created in 1863." I had never heard this before, so I did a…
Categories: Literature/Language, Places Comments (11)
JT Leroy: The Movie
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 09, 2006
Status: Movie planned about a recent hoax Variety reports that the JT Leroy hoax is already heading to the big screen. The Weinstein Company has committed to making a film about Laura Albert's elaborate deception. (Laura Albert was the woman who invented the JT Leroy character.) The time between the hoax being exposed and a movie deal about it being inked seems to have occurred incredibly fast. What is it... a month or two since the hoax was confirmed? The dust has barely settled. I hope the movie is good. In its favor is that hoaxes seem to…
Vietnam Deems Grapefruit Site Too Cocky
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 16, 2006
Status: True The internet is full of many unfortunate urls that can be read in two ways. Some of the urls intentionally have double meanings, some don't. For instance, viagrafix.com (via grafix / viagra fix) was an unintentional oversight, but powergenitalia.com (powergen italia / power genitalia) was a deliberate joke, as is penisland.net. Apparently Vietnamese sites are prone to the same problem. For which reason, Vietnamese regulators have rejected the website name www.buoi.com.vn. The BBC explains: A website hoping to promote grapefruit in Vietnam has been banned from using the fruit's name because of official fears of a mix-up with a penis. The Vietnamese for grapefruit, buoi, sounds different…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (5)
Comic Book Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 13, 2006
The Comics Should Be Good blog is creating a database of comic book urban legends. I don't recognize all the names and characters referred to, but it makes for interesting reading anyway. Here's a few samples (full explanations for all of these at Comics Should Be Good): Wolverine's costume was patterned in part on the uniforms of the Michigan Wolverines football team. (False) Joker was originally killed off in his SECOND appearance! (True) Wolverine was initially intended to be a genetically mutated wolverine. (True) Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston invented the polygraph test! (False) Marvel Comics licenses the use of the…
Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 07, 2006
Status: Final nail in coffin of JT Leroy Just in case there was anyone who still doubted that JT Leroy was a hoax, the deception has finally been admitted to by an insider, Geoffrey Knoop. Knoop was the partner of Laura Albert, the woman who (it can now definitely be said) wrote all of JT Leroy's books. The face of JT Leroy, whenever Leroy made any public appearances, was Savannah Knoop, Geoffrey's half-sister. Geoffrey Knoop has said: "The jig is up... I do want to apologize to people who were hurt. It got to a level I didn't expect." Knoop also says that he doubts Laura Albert will ever admit to being JT Leroy: "For her, it's…
Nasdijj, Native-American Memoirist
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 26, 2006
Status: Phony Here we go again. Another memoirist has been unmasked as a phony. This time it's Nasdijj, celebrated Native-American author of autobiographical works such as The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams and The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping. Turns out he ain't Native American, unless by Native American one means white anglo-saxon protestant. His real identity seems to be that of Tim Barrus, who grew up in a middle-class community in Lansing, Michigan. As Barrus, he was a pioneer of gay "leather" erotica, before the gay community got tired of his antics and he disappeared for a few years, only to…
Cremain Printing
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 24, 2006
Status: True Two weeks ago a lot of people were linking to a story about books bound in human skin that can be found in many libraries, including the rare book libraries at Brown and Harvard. This is, apparently, quite true. Often the books are old medical works, with the skin coming from patients or paupers whose bodies were bought for research. The most gruesome book, owned by the Boston Athenaeum, is an 1837 copy of the memoirs of the highwayman George Walton, bound in his own skin. Following on in this vein, Paul Collins has noted that
Categories: Death, Literature/Language Comments (15)
MagicSHELF
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 19, 2006
Status: It's a kind of magic trick (though it really will hold up your books) Linkydinky.com is offering a product called the magicSHELF. Kathy Johnston emailed me to ask: "Is this for real? I can't tell how it works." Unfortunately, I don't yet have a definitive answer. The magicSHELF has stumped me. Pictures of the magicSHELF show books floating against a wall as if by magic, with no visible means of support. As the site says, "magicSHELF floats your books in the air, docking to any wall you wish." When I first saw it I figured it had to be a…
Remembering The Plumber From Plympton
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 13, 2006
Status: Marking an anniversary in hoax history The million little biographical lies of James Frey have been getting all the attention in the press this week, but as the Devon Western Morning News reminds us, this month marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of a memoir whose lies were far greater: The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa (aka the Plumber from Plympton). Rampa claimed to have grown up in Tibet (born into a wealthy Tibetan family), to have studied in Lhasa to become a lama, and then to have undergone a mysterious operation to open up the "third eye" in the middle of his forehead.…
James Frey, Fiction Writer?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 10, 2006
Status: Undetermined (but the Smoking Gun presents a convincing argument) It seems to be quite the week for literary hoaxes. First there were the new revelations in the JT LeRoy case, and now The Smoking Gun is now accusing author James Frey of inventing many of the details in his autobiographical novel, A Million Little Pieces. The book tells the story of Frey's past as a drug-addict and criminal. But the Smoking Gun alleges that, "The 36-year-old author, these documents and interviews show, wholly fabricated or wildly embellished details of his purported criminal career, jail terms, and status as an outlaw 'wanted in three states.'" They concede that the guy was a drug addict and spent…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (14)
J.T. LeRoy: An Update
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 09, 2006
Status: Evidence is mounting that he's a hoax Last October I posted about the writer JT LeRoy, and the suspicion that he was an elaborate hoax: that his books had actually been written by a woman named Laura Albert, and that the person who appeared in public as LeRoy was an actor. Today the New York Times has revealed more evidence that seems to confirm this theory. The person who has been appearing in public as LeRoy seems to be Savannah Knoop, the half sister of Geoffrey Knoop (who's the guy that supposedly helped rescue the teenage LeRoy). The Times found an image of Savannah Knoop online, and people who have met LeRoy confirm that…
Truthiness
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 09, 2006
Status: New word The American Dialect Society has announced its words of the year for 2005 (links to a pdf file). A number of them are relevant to the study of hoaxes. For instance, the word of the year is Truthiness: truthiness: the quality of stating concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. I suppose the opposite of truthiness would be hoaxiness. A few of the other words of the year include: flee-ancée: runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks. Whizzinator: a trademarked urinating device using a realistic prosthetic penis and synthetic urine in order to…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (8)
Publishers Reject Booker Prize Winners
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 02, 2006
Status: Publishers hoaxed Convinced that the publishing industry can no longer recognize quality literature when they see it, the Sunday Times devised an experiment to test their theory. They submitted opening chapters of books by V.S. Naipaul and Stanley Middleton to twenty publishers and agents. The results: None appears to have recognised them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections. Only Barbara Levy, a London literary agent, expressed an interest, and that was for Middleton’s novel. She was unimpressed by Naipaul’s book. She wrote: “We . . . thought it was quite original. In the end…
Categories: Literature/Language Comments (7)
Status: Hoax A news report has been doing the rounds concerning a student at UMass Dartmouth who was visited by Department of Homeland Security agents after ordering the official Peking version of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book via interlibrary loan. The student needed the book for a research paper on communism, but apparently the book is on some kind of government watch list, and thus the visit. However, over at Boing Boing, suspicions have been raised that the story is a hoax. Apparently a second version of the story is floating around that places the student at UC Santa Cruz. Also, people find it suspicious that the student is unnamed, and therefore the story is…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.