The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Places
Sharks in New Orleans — David Emery throws some cold water on rumors that sharks are swimming through the streets of New Orleans. He points out that the shark sightings seem to be the "seen by a friend of a friend" variety: I found repeated references to unnamed "authorities" and "officials" reporting one "3-foot shark cruising the city." Which authorities? Which officials? Digging further, I could only find mention of one by name: Mayor Aaron Broussard of Jefferson Parish (a New Orleans suburb), who,…
Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2005.   Comments (9)

Katrina Survivor Story — After 9/11 fake tales of heroism and survival soon began to pop up, so it's inevitable that after Katrina people will also invent stories. A tale that's been posted on a gamer's site has some people suspecting a hoax. I have no idea if it's real or not, so you'll have to decide for yourself. In the story, Naomi tells of how life on the coast of Alabama has descended into a state of primitive lawlessness. She claims to be living on the second floor of a house (the first floor was…
Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2005.   Comments (11)

Amazing Hilltop Homes — A reader sent in these photos of amazing hilltop homes wanting to know if they're real or fake. I'd say it's pretty obvious that they're fake, but they're definitely cool, nevertheless. I would guess that they come from a Worth1000 photoshop contest, though I haven't confirmed this yet. I think they've been circulating around for a while, because I have a vague memory of seeing a few of them before. Note that in the second image from the right you can see a car in the garage, if you…
Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2005.   Comments (18)

Pismo Beach, Faux Clam Capital of California — This week's edition of the LA Times Magazine includes an article about various small towns in California that claim to be capitals for various types of food, such as Gilroy 'the garlic capital of the world', or Yuba City 'the prune capital of the U.S.' The article includes this description of Pismo Beach, which claims to be the clam capital of California: Call it the ultimate bait and switch. The clams disappeared from this thriving seaside town, almost exactly halfway between San…
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005.   Comments (10)


Gibraltar Airport — This seems kind of odd: a runway with a road going across it. And yet it's real. It's Gibraltar Airport, which is the only airport in the world that has a road crossing the runway. A view of the airport can also be seen via Google Maps (if you don't believe the picture is real). It reminds me of Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, in terms of being a very unusual airport. (via Outhouse Rag)
Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2005.   Comments (17)

Fun With Google Maps — In a series of articles over the past week, the Register has pointed out some strange things that can be found with Google Maps. First, check out the map of the moon that Google added to its service today in honor of the moon landing anniversary. Zoom in as close as possible and you'll discover an unusual revelation. Second, Google maps reveals that there's a building on a military base here in San Diego that's built in the shape of a swastika. Strange, but true. It's not clear why…
Posted: Thu Jul 21, 2005.   Comments (23)

Secret Powerline Codes — I've heard in the past that shoes hanging from a powerline means that you can buy drugs in the area. But according to this article, in which a utility worker is interviewed, there are even more secret codes: "The tennis shoes hanging up there mark drug areas," the worker says. "It's a sign to those who are 'in the know' that drugs are available for sale in that neighborhood." He goes on to explain the alleged meaning of yoyos and deflated helium balloons. "That meaning is a lot…
Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005.   Comments (59)

Storm Near Bunbury? — Some amazing pictures of a tornado have been doing the rounds. According to the info that accompanies them, these are "Photos of storm near Bunbury" (which is in Australia), although the text also notes that "you'd swear these were taken in america's mid west / tornado belt..." This has started some discussion on alt.folklore.urban, as people try to locate exactly where these photos were taken. The scenery does look a lot like the midwest.
Posted: Fri May 20, 2005.   Comments (81)

Satellite Map Oddity — I got an email from Mike Scofield asking about this odd thing that can be seen via Google's satellite map out in the middle of the desert around Nevada. Mike writes: Assuming I did the link right, you should see a giant triangle with concentric circles in it. I did some poking around and it looks like this symbol is ~near~ Area 51. This leads me to think it's one of two different hoaxes. One is that it's a very good photoshop someone slipped into the satalite map that Google is…
Posted: Tue May 10, 2005.   Comments (64)

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)

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