The Hoax Museum Blog
The first (fake) photo from the Curiosity rover
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 06, 2012
The first image (above) transmitted by the Curiosity rover from Mars was kind of blurry and unexciting. So the folks on Twitter and Tumblr substituted a more dramatic shot (below). It's circulating with the caption: "NASA just landed a rover on Mars, this is the very first picture. This JUST happened minutes ago." It actually is a picture of Mars, but it was taken by the Mars Spirit rover in 2005. (link: gawker.com)
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 27, 2012
When I saw this photo online a few days ago, I thought, "that koala looks pretty vicious." It didn't occur to me that the image might be fake. But the reality, I now know, is that the image is fake. Koalas don't have wolf-life jaws. The original photo (below) was taken in January 2009 by Flickr user Oz_drdolittle, who explains that the koala was wet because he had sprayed it with water: The poor thing was really hot. (We had a long heatwave recently). I had 3 hanging around the house that I watered twice a day while I was watering the garden.…
Orange Forest: real or photoshopped?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 25, 2012
Without knowing the context, I would have guessed this picture had been digitally manipulated in some way. But it turns out it wasn't. NPR explains: it's a single image from a single place and time — the hills of western Hungary, six months after a devastating industrial accident. In late 2010, the waste reservoir of a Hungarian aluminum oxide plant burst, releasing millions and millions of gallons of caustic red sludge. The meter-high toxic mudslide quickly moved downhill through two nearby villages, burying buildings, poisoning fields and killing 10 people. Soldiers and volunteers shoveled the muck into trucks and hosed down the streets, but where the sludge had been, every…
Rachael Ray Cooks Her Family and Dog
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 29, 2012
For over a year, a picture of the Oct 2010 cover of Tails magazine has been circulating online. The image suggests that Rachael Rays practices cannibalism and eats dogs. Of course, the cover is fake. The original cover included appropriately placed commas —"Rachael Ray finds inspiration in cooking, her family, and her dog." I'm not entirely sure where the fake version of the cover first appeared. According to wlwt.com, Funny or Die was the original source. Though I can't find it there. But it was posted on Food Network Humor back in March 2011, and I suspect that may be the source from…
Photo of a Black Lion
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 05, 2012
A picture of a black lion has recently been circulating online. Black lions are not biologically impossible. In fact, there have been scattered reports of black lions over the centuries. However, the lion in this picture is actually a white lion colored black through photo manipulation. The original image of a white lion was posted at cutehomepets.com. It was then transformed into a black lion by "PAulie-SVK" and posted at deviantart.com earlier this year. From there it spread to Facebook, reddit, etc. Messybeast.com offers some interesting info on the science and history of black lions: There is a…
The Great Loveland Potato Hoax: Was this the first viral fake photo ever?
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 15, 2012
Rick Padden of Loveland, Colorado has written a play about a famous hoax from his own town: The Great Loveland Potato Hoax. It'll be on stage at Loveland's Rialto Theater. The Loveland Potato Hoax took place in 1895. It involved a potato farmer who created a fake photo of himself holding a giant potato. The photo started circulating around the country, passing from one person to another, until it eventually came to the attention of Scientific American, which published it, mistakenly presenting it to readers as a real photo. The farmer was subsequently flooded with inquiries from people who wanted pieces of the potato so they could grow their own giant spud.
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2012
This image that recently appeared on the May 4 cover of the Living section in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is all over the blogosphere. Does the heading say "Suit Yourself" or "Shit Yourself"? The real question is whether this was an innocent accident, or an artist's prank. Kind of like the penis on the Little Mermaid video cover. The artist swore he didn't put it there intentionally, but that was kind of hard to believe. After all, how could he miss it?
“Why Boys Need Parents!” Is this a photograph or a painting?
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 07, 2012
This image (which appears on a lot of humor and weird picture sites around the web) is often captioned, "Why boys need parents." And try as I might, that's the only information I can find out about it. Where it came from and who created it, I have no idea. I'm not even sure whether this is a photograph or a painting, though I suspect it's a painting. The low resolution makes it difficult to tell, and I can't find any higher-res copies. It's the boy's legs, in particular, that make me suspect it's a painting. They look slightly unrealistic. So I'm posting this here in the hope that…
Does this cat really have a cat-shaped mark on its back?
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 04, 2012
Several pictures of a cat with a cat-shaped mark on its back have circulated online for a couple of years. There's also a version of the image with arabic writing on it, that's currently doing the rounds on facebook. I don't know the cat's name, but the cat has a Japanese owner who keeps a blog, ameblo.jp/usousopp, devoted to posting pictures of it. There are hundreds of pictures of the cat up there. And here's the strange thing. In the two pictures of the cat that are circulating, the marking clearly resembles a cat. But in the pictures of the cat on the ameblo.jp…
Cop Convention at Donutland
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 03, 2012
I'm not sure how old this image is, but it must be 15 or 20 years old at least. It's been circulating online for as long as I can remember. It's one of those images that's become a staple on humor sites, but people don't often pause to ask about the details of it: is the picture real? Where was it taken? And if it is real, what were all those cops doing there? Were they really all on a donut break? Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out very much about the picture. Although I was able to locate where it was taken, because a few people recognized…
Does Autistic Photographer Patrick Notley exist?
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 02, 2012
Thanks to Smerk for posing this question in the forum. I thought it deserved to be on the front page. Around about mid-2009, a slideshow began circulating via email featuring a series of stunning images, all of which had supposedly been taken by an autistic German photographer, Patrick Notley. The images were soon posted on slideshare, and then someone collected them together into a youtube video. A few examples of some of the photos attributed to him: But Notley himself seemed to be a bit of a mystery. Despite being such an accomplished photographer, he didn't…
The Case of the Leaping and Mating Giraffe
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 01, 2012
When I first saw this image, I immediately wondered whether giraffes can jump. I did some googling and eventually found Giraffes by Nicole Helget in which she addresses this question: A giraffe can also jump, clearing heights of up to five feet (1.5 m). This capability is important, now that many cattle fences have been built in Africa. The neck helps propel the giraffe over obstacles. To jump, the giraffe first pulls its neck back, putting most of its weight over the hind legs. Then it thrusts the neck forward, lifts its front legs, and pushes off with its hind legs. Knowing that giraffes can jump then made me wonder…
Driving into the mouth of the tunnel
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 30, 2012
It would be cool if there really was a tunnel entrance somewhere in the world that looked like this. But this is one of those brought-to-you-by-photoshop images. The original is an image showing a billboard created in March 2007 by the Austrian ad agency Demner, Merlicek & Bergmann for the restaurant chain Oldtimer. (link: adsoftheworld.com) What's puzzling me is whether the original image is itself photoshopped? Did this Oldtimer billboard ever exist in real life, or is the photo just a concept piece? I can't find any pictures showing the Oldtimer billboard from a different angle. I can't find any sources that list…
Fast-Food Tattoo Guy
Posted by The Curator on Sat Apr 28, 2012
The "Fast-Food Tattoo Guy" image has been floating around the internet since 2009, at least. It's not a very good fake. Which is to say, it doesn't appear that many people have been led to believe, on the basis of this photo, that some large, cheeseburger-loving man actually decided to tattoo himself with the logos of fast-food restaurants. Nevertheless, I'm always curious about where these fake photos originally come from. In the case of this photo, I tracked down the original to a series of photos taken by photographer Philip Greenspun at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2005. He took several shots of this guy sitting on the beach, eating his food,…
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 26, 2012
This is one of those photos that looks so surreal you'd think it has to be photoshopped, but it's real. It was taken earlier today in Colorado. Although it looks like the bear might be bouncing on a trampoline, it's actually falling onto a thick mat: Bear tranquilized in tree near Williams Village cuindependent.com The bear managed to climb up a tree near the dorms where it stayed for about two and a half hours. Wildlife officials were able to safely tranquilize the bear at 10:17 a.m. and the bear fell onto mats provided by the Recreation Center at approximately 10:28 a.m. "[The bear] was tranquilized by the…