The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Photos/Videos
Operation Cat Nip Confusion — In August 2011, hundreds of cats were rescued during a hoarding case, and then a team of veterinary students volunteered their time to spay and neuter the cats in order to prepare them for adoption. A photo of this mass spaying/neutering event (named Operation Cat Nip) ran in the Gainesville Sun. But about a year later that same photo began appearing on Twitter, stripped of any explanatory context, and accompanied by the caption: "Retweet if you say NO to animal testing." The…
Posted: Fri Feb 28, 2014.   Comments (4)

Optical Illusion Cow — This cow illusion has been circulating since at least 2011. And here's the original, which, I believe, is a stock photo. Though I don't know which stock photo agency it's from.
Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014.   Comments (0)

Frozen Venice — Trending recently on social media, a picture of "Venice Frozen". There hasn't been freezing weather recently in Venice. So yes, the picture is fake. Anyway, even if it did freeze in Venice, the ice there wouldn't look that clear blue. The photo is a composite created by Robert Johns. He posted it two weeks ago on his Instagram account. He created the image by taking ice from a photo of Lake Baikal (
Posted: Mon Feb 17, 2014.   Comments (1)

The Ultimate Houseboat — Found circulating online, as captioned in the title. Somewhat obviously photoshopped, particularly with the person jumping off the diving board at the front. But it's a cool idea. I believe the image originates from the site of Bolig Partner, a Norwegian home construction firm, which is urging people to "Realize your dream home in the New Year!" The ship itself is a
Posted: Thu Feb 06, 2014.   Comments (1)


Theodore Roosevelt Rides a Moose — Theodore Roosevelt served as President of the United States for 8 years, from 1901-1909. He was, as Wikipedia notes, acclaimed for his "cowboy persona and robust masculinity." However, his masculinity was not so robust that he once rode a moose, despite what this photo appears to show. In 1912, Roosevelt split from the Republican Party, after having become unhappy with its increasingly conservative policies. He then ran for President as head of the newly formed Progressive Party.…
Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014.   Comments (3)

Is the “Hercules the World’s Biggest Dog” photo fake, as everyone has assumed? — This photo of "Hercules, the World's Biggest Dog" is one of the best known "hoax" viral images on the Web. It started circulating in early 2007, initially on its own, but soon the Internet had supplied an explanatory caption: Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog Ever According to Guinness World Records Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds. With…
Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014.   Comments (2)

Long Exposure Photo of a Tree Struck by Lightning — The internet seems to believe this is a "long exposure photo of a lightning bolt hitting a tree." It's not. Well, it is a long exposure shot, but not of lightning. It's a photo created by "light painter" Darren Pearson (aka Darius Twin). Wikipedia defines light painting as "a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera." Pearson light painted the blue flames at the base of the tree. He then cut-and-pasted the…
Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2014.   Comments (4)

Fireworks over Europe — As 2013 ended and 2014 began, this photo started circulating online, along with the claim that it showed a satellite's view of the fireworks over Europe at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But no, that's not what this photo shows. For a start, Europe isn't all in the same time zone, so the fireworks didn't go off all at the same moment. Second, fireworks wouldn't have created such intense illumination. The image was actually created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric…
Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2014.   Comments (0)

Lottery winner meets love of his life, two days after the big win — This is one of those fake viral images that you'd think everyone would recognize immediately to be a joke. And yet, quite a few people seem to take it seriously, such as the people on this reddit thread where it was recently posted. The woman is the Swedish actress, singer, and glamour model Natacha Peyre. The guy next to her remains unidentified. He's probably just a fan that she agreed to pose for a photo with. According to reports, Peyre has been dating Swedish pop singer Dhani…
Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014.   Comments (1)

What happens when lightning strikes sand — In June 2013, the image below started to circulate online. It was launched into viral status after being posted on Reddit, where it was captioned, "This is what happens when lightning strikes sand." When lightning strikes sand, it can form fulgurites, which are also known as "lightning tubes" or "petrified lightning". Tonya Clayton offers a good, one-sentence explanation of what these are: "If the in-ground moisture content is just right, the sand melts and fuses, forming beautiful…
Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2013.   Comments (0)

Jennifer Aniston Gets A Buzzcut — April 1, 2013 — the site Daily Makeover (which describes itself as "Hairstyles, Makeup and Cosmetics Inspiration") posted a photo of Jennifer Aniston with a buzzcut. The site claimed that Aniston had cut off her hair for a role in a film and quoted her as saying, "My character gets to this really broken point, and [director] Daniel [Schechter] and I thought it would make her more realistic." But actually, the photo was the site's April Fool joke. It had doctored an image of Aniston…
Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2013.   Comments (0)

Santa’s Identity Revealed — Currently trending online is this set of pictures showing a chocolate rabbit inside a St. Nicholas wrapper. The photos are accompanied by captions such as "Santa's identity revealed" or "an unexpected plot twist": Is this a case of a chocolate manufacturer repackaging chocolate Easter bunnies for the Christmas market? No. The images actually come from a Dutch ad campaign designed to promote awareness of Alzheimer's disease. The original ad includes a third image showing the chocolate…
Posted: Sun Dec 22, 2013.   Comments (0)

Cow on hood of car — This image of a cow lying on the hood of a BMW began circulating online around January 2013. At first, the image didn't attract much attention. It circulated with captions such as ""Got Milk!", "Fail Safe Auto Alarm," and "The Ground Is Lava. LOL". But on Nov 18, 2013, the Surrey Roads Police department posted the image on its twitter account accompanied by the message: "Remember as days get colder animals are attracted to the warmth of cars so check wheel arches or other hiding…
Posted: Sat Dec 21, 2013.   Comments (0)

Snow-Covered Sphinx — Photos of the Sphinx covered in snow have recently gone viral, on the heels of reports of the first snowfall in Cairo for 112 years. These photos haven't been digitally manipulated. However, they don't show THE Sphinx in Egypt covered in snow. Instead, what they show is a miniature model of the Sphinx located in the Tobu World Square theme park in Japan. The theme park has miniature models of many other famous attractions from around the world. (You can actually see the Eiffel Tower…
Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013.   Comments (2)

Posing with Mandela — The Mandela-themed hoaxes continue. Kenyan senator Mike Sonko recently posted to his facebook page a photo of himself posing with Nelson Mandela. It's such an awful photoshop job, that it's hardly even worth debunking. Still, for what it's worth, the original image that he doctored was one of Mandela posing with Muhammad Ali. [telegraph.co.uk]
Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013.   Comments (0)

Fake Mandela Corpse Photo — On Thursday, an image purporting to be a death photo of Nelson Mandela began circulating online. The photo — a greenish-tinged shot of Mandela with his eyes closed — was originally posted on twitter by someone with the username @nQOW_bee. IOL news reported: "In between tweets about the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial at FNB Stadium on Tuesday, which is her sexiest body part, and how she can’t stick to a healthy diet, she posted a picture of Mandela with…
Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2013.   Comments (0)

Cat Drinks From Bottle — There's not a lot of info on where this photo comes from. It's listed on the website of the French National Library as having been created in 1911 by the "Agence Rol." photo agency. For 1911, it's a pretty good example of photo fakery. Also included in the same series is "Cat peers through binoculars" and "cat looks through a telescope." Found these over at retronaut.com.
Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013.   Comments (0)

Soviet Pilot Flies Under Bridge, 1965 — This image shows Soviet pilot Valentin Privalov flying a MiG-17 under the central span of the Communal Bridge over the River Ob in Novosibirsk on June 4, 1965. The story goes (as much as I can piece it together) that Privalov did this on his own initiative, as a stunt. The shore of the river was filled with vacationers, among whom were officers from the district headquarters, when suddenly the MiG came roaring out of the sky. Afterwards the crowd spontaneously started to applaud, but…
Posted: Tue Dec 03, 2013.   Comments (1)

World’s Largest Tortoise — The International Business Times reports that a "fake image" purporting to show the "world's largest tortoise" being transported on a flatbed truck has recently been circulating online. I think it's been circulating for at least half a year, but it's not correct to call it a fake image. It's a still from Gamera The Brave (a 2006 Japanese monster movie) that has been falsely captioned. Here's another picture of the "world's largest tortoise" in action: The question that popped into…
Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2013.   Comments (1)

Tornado Photo Fakery — When tornadoes struck the Midwest last week, some unusual photo fakes managed to get past the media fact-checkers who try to catch these things before publishing or broadcasting them. The WTHR website posted a photo (submitted by an "iwitness contributor") that showed downtown Lafayette being threatened by both a fake tornado and a UFO. [jimromenesko.com] The fake — with red arrow added by reporter Eric Weddle to show the UFO The original And Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM ran a…
Posted: Sun Nov 24, 2013.   Comments (0)

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