The Hoax Museum Blog
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 01, 2004
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 story could very well be true, but it also sounds suspiciously like one of those Euromyths that have become so popular. For instance, there's the Euromyth about the supposed new EU law that forbids bananas…
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 24, 2004
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 media is now backpedaling, admitting that the Locals Only! group may have been a hoax, but insisting that the surf rage phenomenon itself is real.
Club Med, Croatian-Style
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 18, 2004
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 prison." Sounds like fun.
Weird City Names
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 04, 2004
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 that I can't find them. However, according to Mapquest it would be possible to take a road trip from Intercourse, Pennsylvania to Hooker, Arkansas, with a quick stop in…
You Are Being Watched
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 01, 2004
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 through the forest and suddenly, as if out of nowhere, music will start playing.
Vanishing Hitchhiker on Mount St. Helens
Posted by The Curator on Fri Oct 29, 2004
The Tacoma Washington News Tribune reports on a Vanishing Hitchhiker legend local to Mount St. Helens. (in case you're not familiar with it, the Vanishing Hitchhiker urban legend goes like this: a guy picks up a hitchhiker who then mysteriously vanishes from inside the moving car. He realizes that the hitchhiker was a ghost.) Following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, many drivers in the area swore they saw a woman dressed in white thumbing a ride by the side of the road. She would get in the car and eventually say "The volcano is going to erupt again between Oct. 12 and 14." Then she would disappear. Sure enough, lava did…
Real-Life Truman Show
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 26, 2004
According to the Guardian, RTL2 TV in Germany is constructing an entire fake town outside of Hamburg which will provide the setting for their version of the Big Brother Reality TV show. It'll be just like a real-life version of The Truman Show. Residents of the artificial town will be filmed 24 hours a day, every day of the year. In addition, fans of the show will be able to visit the town "to see the residents just as if they were visiting a zoo." The German broadcasters say that the only difference between the premise of The Truman Show and their planned show, is that in their show "contestants will be willing participants in this next-generation leap…
The 77 Water Street Roof Runway
Posted by The Curator on Fri Oct 22, 2004
Is there really a building in New York City that has an airplane runway on its roof, with a biplane sitting at the end of the runway? Yup. It's the 77 Water Street Building. Here's a fuzzy satellite image. However, the biplane isn't real. It's just a mock-up. Metafilter has a thread on this unusual landmark. (via Things Magazine)
Was That An Earthquake?
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 29, 2004
This should be filed under perfect timing: yesterday California State University, Monterey Bay had organized an earthquake drill complete with police, rescue workers, and actors to play victims. Five minutes into the drill a real earthquake hit. Reportedly "it didn't appear that anybody who took part in the drill was noticeably frightened by the real quake." Probably because they figured it was all part of the simulation.
Fake Onsen Scandal
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 11, 2004
The Japanese love to soak in Onsen... hot springs that bubble up from the ground, often milky white or green in color, tinted by minerals in the earth. But now many have been dismayed to discover that some of the springs don't owe their color to natural minerals, but instead to far more mundane ingredients. Namely, bath salts. Japan Today notes, "In Kagoshima Prefecture, a hot spring famous for its unusual green color was revealed to be the result of dissolving household "Bath-Clean" bath salts into the water. Further claims of "fake onsens" have been surfacing continuously over the country."
California As An Island
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 04, 2004
The Philadelphia Print Shop has a great online collection of ancient maps that contain mythical geography. Mythical geography describes "geographic features that appear on the map but not on the earth; cities where none ever were, islands where there are but waves, lakes and rivers where there is dry land, and kingdoms of non-existent kings." (I have some more information about this topic in my Medieval Travel Lies Gallery). My favorite ancient maps in the Print Shop's collection are the ones of California as an island. Of course, it remains to be seen whether these were actually geographic myths, or astute predictions of the future. Being in…
Phony Sold Signs
Posted by The Curator on Wed Aug 04, 2004
A British Real Estate Agency has been fined for placing phony 'sold' signs up outside the houses of its own employees. It's not quite clear to me what they gained by doing this. I assume it made them look like they were doing more business than they actually were. Still, it's odd to think that as you drive around a neighborhood and see all those 'for sale' and 'sold' signs, that the signs might bear no relationship to reality at all.
A Few Nonexistent Places
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 24, 2004
Motorcycle Trip Through Chernobyl
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 21, 2004
A month or two ago a woman named Elena posted a travelogue on the web about her solitary motorcycle ride through the deserted area around Chernobyl. With all the eerie pictures she took of the abandoned, irradiated 'ghost town,' her travelogue quickly became one of the most linked-to sites on the net. Now there are accusations that her travelogue wasn't completely honest. Apparently she didn't go around alone on a motorcycle. She went in a car with her husband and a friend. Elena defends herself, admitting that much of her story was 'more poetry' than reality, but noting that most of it was still reality. I'm…
The Nullarbor Nymph
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 18, 2004
Thirty-two years ago the tiny town of Eucla, Australia, on the edge of the Nullarbor plain, became famous when a few of its residents first sighted the Nullarbor Nymph. The Nymph was a blonde, feral, half-naked woman who lived in the bush and ran wild with kangaroos. News of this wild woman quickly spread around the world. President Nixon was asked his opinion of her (reportedly his reply could not be repeated over the air), and the Loch Ness monster sent her a telegram. Sooner or later I'll have to put a fuller account of the Nullarbor Nymph in my 'Hoaxes Throughout History' Gallery, but for now you can read all about…