The Hoax Museum Blog
Sharks in New Orleans
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 05, 2005
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, according to the August 30 issue of the Palm Beach Post, "told residents Tuesday that at least one 3-foot shark had been spotted." Again, that's one small shark reportedly sighted — exactly where and by whom,…
Katrina Survivor Story
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 05, 2005
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 flooded and is covered in mud), keeping her gun close at hand to fend off looters. She's running a generator that allows her…
Amazing Hilltop Homes
Posted by The Curator on Sat Aug 20, 2005
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 look closely.
Pismo Beach, Faux Clam Capital of California
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 08, 2005
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 Francisco and L.A., about 30 years ago. Over-clamming tourists and gorging sea otters did the dirty deed. But did the city fathers of this middle-class destination resort promptly notify the governor, alert the…
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 31, 2005
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)
Fun With Google Maps
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 21, 2005
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 this design was chosen. Probably the…
Secret Powerline Codes
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 08, 2005
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 darker," he says. "Yoyos mean that sex is for sale in the area, and if a balloon is tangled in with the yoyos, that means both sex…
Storm Near Bunbury?
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 20, 2005
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.
Satellite Map Oddity
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 10, 2005
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 referencing or, two, that it is a symbol out there in the desert someone did that isn't related to Area 51.
The Dominion of Melchizedek
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 09, 2005
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 log on to www.melchizedek.com, and you can tour the entire nation, made up of Pacific islands. Fairly realistic, huh? That's what those 300 investors thought, too."
Mt. St. Helens at Sunrise
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 12, 2005
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 recent history.) What forms the "smoke rings" is the air flowing over the mountain getting pushed up higher as it goes up and over the top. The moisture content…
Wageningen Liberation Monument
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 01, 2005
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 listed as Ananova. Second, there already is a National Liberation Monument war memorial in Wageningen that's been there since the 1950s.
Find A Gay Neighborhood
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 16, 2005
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 matches to what the customer wants are delivered instantly. This revolutionary approach is applied to the nearly 200 characteristics used to describe each of the more than 61,000 neighborhoods (i.e. census tracts) in America to create blazingly accurate matches, no matter what the customer is looking for in…
Atlantis Off The Coast of Cuba
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 09, 2005
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.
Swiss Hygiene Inspector
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 07, 2005
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 Susanne for the link)