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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Places
The Dominion of Melchizedek — On my next vacation I'm going to the Dominion of Melchizedek. It looks lovely. But actually, I might have trouble finding a flight there since there's no such place. I found it mentioned in a book I was browsing through, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Frauds, Scams, and Cons. The author of this book, Duane Swierczynski, says that the Dominion of Melchizedek "was solely the invention of an American swindler, who created it as a front for a multitude of scams. If you're near a computer, go…
Posted: Mon May 09, 2005.   Comments (1)

Mt. St. Helens at Sunrise — I got this picture in my email, sent by Edna who's wondering if it's real. It looks real to me. The picture is accompanied by the following text, which also sounds accurate to me (as a non-meteorologist): MT. St. Helens, which sits about 30 miles from Vancouver, as the crow flies, continues to spew ash, while it is forming a lava dome in the crater and still having minor tremors. In this sunrise shot, she appears to be blowing smoke rings (and anything so benign is welcomed, given…
Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005.   Comments (34)

Wageningen Liberation Monument — Here's a strange story. I'm not sure whether or not it's a joke. Supposedly the Dutch village of Wageningen commissioned the construction of a war memorial shaped like "a giant copper obelisk that rises and falls depending on the level of sunlight, and spurts flames out of the top during important festivals." Only after they built it did they realize it looked exactly like a giant penis and hastily decided to scrap it. There are two reasons I'm skeptical about this. First, the source is…
Posted: Fri Apr 01, 2005.   Comments (22)

Find A Gay Neighborhood — A search engine called NeighborhoodScout claims that it will locate the top gay-friendly neighborhoods in any area: "NeighborhoodScout's patent-pending search engine will reveal and richly describe the top gay-friendly neighborhoods in your chosen area and price range." So how exactly does it do this? According to the site: NeighborhoodScout® applies an exclusive, patent-pending algorithm to measure the similarity of neighborhoods based on customer-specified criteria, such that exact…
Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2005.   Comments (32)


Atlantis Off The Coast of Cuba — Back in December I posted a list of some of the places where Atlantis has been found: off the coasts of Spain, Cyprus, and Tampa, Florida. Add Cuba to this list. Sonar images taken off the coast of Cuba show "massive stones in oddly symmetrical square and pyramid shapes in the deep-sea darkness." And as we all know, anything mysterious on the ocean floor must be Atlantis.
Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2005.   Comments (13)

Swiss Hygiene Inspector — Before you move out of a home in Switzerland do you have to have it examined by a hygiene inspector who makes sure everything has been dusted, vacuumed, scrubbed, and polished? According to this BBC article, that's true, though it sounds a bit bizarre. Here in America people can, and do, leave their houses in any condition they want. So maybe we should have hygiene inspectors. But making sure that people dust inside the fuse box before they move out sounds a little extreme. (thanks to…
Posted: Mon Mar 07, 2005.   Comments (14)

Deadly Underwater Gnome Garden Returns — In past entries I've written about gnomes that have mysteriously disappeared from gardens and peepshows. Now I think I know where the gnomes have gone. They've travelled to the secret gnome garden that lurks beneath the waters of Wastwater in the Lake District. Authorities report that a gnome garden (which even had a tiny picket fence) was removed from the bottom of the lake a few years ago after some divers died while spending too long searching for it. Now the gnome garden has…
Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2005.   Comments (18)

Is the Eiffel Tower Copyrighted? — Has the city of Paris really copyrighted the Eiffel Tower as it looks lit up at night, meaning that anyone (including a tourist) who takes a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night has to get permission and pay a fee before publishing that picture? As bizarre as it sounds, apparently this is true. Even if you wanted to post your holiday photos of the 'Eiffel Tower by night' on the web, you would technically have to get permission first. The Eiffel Tower itself was built in 1889, and…
Posted: Thu Feb 03, 2005.   Comments (14)

Chawama: The Town That Hoaxes — Here's a strange article about a town in Africa full of people who love to perpetrate hoaxes. Sounds like a charming, quirky place, until you learn that almost all the hoaxes involve accusing people of being spawns of Satan. Such as the time last week when a large crowd turned out to hunt down a 15-year-old girl they thought had turned into a satanic pig. The author of the article argues that all these hoaxes actually serve a serious purpose: "to bring people together to appreciate the…
Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2005.   Comments (10)

Trying To Leave Haugesund — A curious bug in Microsoft's MapPoint site has been getting a lot of attention. If you ask for driving directions from Haugesund, Norway to Trondheim, Norway it will send you on a very strange route. Instead of going the direct route between the two cities, it will tell you to first cross the North Sea, drive down through England, cross the Channel, go east across Europe, and up through Sweden and Norway, until you finally arrive at your destination. Playing around with this a bit, I…
Posted: Thu Jan 27, 2005.   Comments (12)

The Legend of Midgetville — For Christmas I received a great book, Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman. Immediately I flipped through it to find anything about San Diego, and soon came across the legend of Midgetville. Midgetville refers to the legend of a town consisting of scaled-down houses built for little people. Midgetville is said to exist in various places throughout America. As Moran and Sceurman note, the most credible rumor…
Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005.   Comments (276)

Christmas Lights Webcam Hoax — Alek Komarnitsky claimed that his christmas lights were web-controlled. Visitors to his site could turn them on and off, and view their work via a webcam. So people with visions of inducing epileptic seizures in his neighbors were busy clicking away. Alek even took a helicopter ride with a local TV station and showed them the lights on his house madly flashing as thousands of visitors to his site supposedly turned the lights on and off. But an article in today's issue of the Wall…
Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004.   Comments (16)

The Hoax Paper Birds of Thailand — Last week 100 million paper birds were airdropped in southern Thailand. The airdrop was supposed to be the Thai government's symbolic peace gesture towards the Muslim separatists who live there. Billionaire Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra personally signed one of the paper birds, promising that whoever found this autographed bird would win a university scholarship (sounds like he has ambitions to be a modern-day Willy Wonka). A few days later a young girl came forward saying that…
Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2004.   Comments (9)

Emperor Norton Bridge — According to the San Francisco Chronicle there's serious consideration of renaming the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton I, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico who lived in San Francisco during the 19th Century. The Board of Supervisors approved the idea yesterday. Now it just has to be approved by the Mayor, the Oakland City Council, and the California Legislature. Personally, I think it's a great idea. But will this inspire Los Angeles to follow…
Posted: Wed Dec 15, 2004.   Comments (11)

Atlantis Found — A lot of people lately seem to be finding the lost city of Atlantis. Back in June a researcher said he located it off the southern coast of Spain by studying satellite images. Then last month US researchers said they found the city off the coast of Cyprus by using sonar technology. But my favorite is the discovery of Atlantis announced yesterday by the Hawaiian Phonics tutor Dennis Brooks. He's studied the issue deeply and has concluded that Atlantis is, in fact, Tampa, Florida. He…
Posted: Fri Dec 10, 2004.   Comments (9)

Pertannually Insubdurient — EU bureaucrats are a perpetual target for humor. Here's the latest one. Supposedly they decided to remove the word 'pertannually' from the EU constitution, having decided that it was incomprehensible and meaningless. And what did they replace it with? The much clearer term 'insubdurience'. One source for this story is John Humphrys, a political journalist who's just written a book Lost for Words, about "the demise of the language." The tale also pops up in this Guardian article. The…
Posted: Wed Dec 01, 2004.   Comments (10)

Surf Rage — Last week British journalists were all abuzz about the 'surf rage' phenomenon: vigilante Cornish surfers waging a kind of guerrilla war against out-of-town surfers. One group calling itself Locals Only! had a website in which it proclaimed it would use harassment and force to defend its surfing spots. But now a bunch of marketing and journalism students have declared that they invented the whole 'surf rage' concept to hoax the media (which, of course, willingly took the bait). The…
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004.   Comments (2)

Club Med, Croatian-Style — This is probably not a hoax. Just a really bad idea. Croatia is hoping to strike it rich by luring in tourists curious to see what it would be like to spend a couple of days in a hard-labor camp. So they're considering reopening a communist-era prison on a barren island in the Adriatic Sea, and offering it as a tourist destination. They envision "tourists being issued convict uniforms, pounding large stones with a sledgehammer and hauling the pieces on their backs to quarries around the…
Posted: Thu Nov 18, 2004.   Comments (8)

Weird City Names — Here's an amusing list of weird city and town names. Of course, I immediately wondered if all these names were real, so I checked a random sample in Mapquest. Nothing came up for Hornytown, North Carolina (a google search didn't turn up any offical website for it either, though there is a widespread report, probably false, that Hornytown has banned massage parlors). Nor was there a Love Ladies, New Jersey in Mapquest. That doesn't mean Hornytown and Love Ladies don't exist. It's just…
Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2004.   Comments (88)

You Are Being Watched — From the Flickr Photo Sharing site: "On a road in the middle of nowhere there are signs posted every few hundred yards warning that you are being recorded on CCTV. This is apparently an effort to stop illegal fly tippers from dumping their rubbish along the road. I had a look around for some cameras, but couldn't see any. I think it's a hoax." Although maybe there really are cameras hidden in the trees. There are speakers hidden in the trees at UC San Diego. You'll be walking along…
Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004.   Comments (8)

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