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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Pranks
The Traveling Gnome Prank — Status: Prank Wayne Johnston's garden gnome disappeared. Then he began receiving letters from it posted from all corners of the world. Being a police officer, Johnston launched an unofficial investigation into who was responsible for his gnome's abduction. It turned out almost all his friends were, including those who had been helping him with his investigation. So this is another instance of the traveling gnome prank. I know that this prank was featured in the 2001 French movie…
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2005.   Comments (21)

Biker Hits Pothole — Status: Real Everyone is linking to these photos of a biker hitting a pothole in the rain and taking a nasty spill. They were taken by Liu Tao for the Beijing Youth Daily. The thing is that Liu knew the pothole was there and, instead of telling people about it, just waited for someone to fall into it so that he could get his shot. Which kind of makes this a photo sequence of a prank in action. Beijing Youth Daily readers have apparently been outraged by the photos, writing in that Liu…
Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2005.   Comments (22)

School For Pranks — Status: True (news item) A couple of people emailed me about this. (Thanks to everyone who did!) The artist Ray Beldner has been teaching a class at St. Mary's College titled "Pranks: Culture jamming as social activism." One of the class requirements is to try to hoax the media. One hoax created by the students involved "the distribution of a news release touting a fictional bar to be opened near the Moraga campus." However, the media didn't fall for it. (Evidently it wasn't sensational…
Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2005.   Comments (5)

Smoot Retires — Status: Update about a classic college prank NPR reports that Oliver Smoot has retired from the board of the American National Standards Institute. Fans of classic college pranks will recognize Smoot as the official unit of length of the Harvard Bridge. Here's what Neil Steinberg writes (in If At All Possible, Involve A Cow: The Book of College Pranks) about how the Smoot came into being: In the fall of 1958, the pledge masters at MIT's Lambda Chi Alpha house, dreading the approaching…
Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2005.   Comments (4)


Grandma Steals Baby Jesus — Status: True Virginia Voiers, a 70-year-old grandmother, has been charged with stealing baby Jesus from a nativity scene in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. "It was a lark, it wasn't any serious stealing,'' Voiers told the Lovely County Citizen newspaper of Eureka Springs. "My granddaughter commented that no one had taken the baby Jesus this year and said, 'Grandma?' I said, 'Oh, what the heck.''' Usually, the baby Jesus is returned by the thief. Voiers said her Saturday caper was the first…
Posted: Mon Dec 05, 2005.   Comments (13)

Why did the gnomes cross the road? — Status: Prank Eighteen garden gnomes were found lined up in the Australian town of Warrnambool, waiting to cross a road. The police stated: "Right on the crossing, there was some on one side and some on the other side patiently waiting for the traffic to stop," he said. "At this stage we believe it's just a school prank but obviously the owners of the garden gnomes wouldn't appreciate their property being stolen from their gardens. They're just gn-one (gone)." The gnomes were taken to…
Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2005.   Comments (10)

Skype Prank — Here's a prank perpetrated on the Skype system (an internet-based phone and chat service) that proves you never know who you're talking to online: A profile is put up with a girl's name and picture, and put in "Skype me" mode. Within minutes some seedy guy will invariably try calling/chatting, and there's a little program I made running the whole time which will partner up people 2 at a time, and send messages from the first person to the second, & vice versa. This way both people…
Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2005.   Comments (10)

Hoof Hearted — I received this email from "Doctor Psi": I remember a British horse race in which one of the entrants was named 'Hoof Hearted'. This horse was obviously named so as to cause the maximum amount of amusement when listening to the commentary! Anyway, I was looking for a picture of said horse to show a friend, and found the following website: http://www.hoofheartedoutfitters.com/index.htm It looks genuine, but I can't believe that these guys haven't stopped to think just how their…
Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2005.   Comments (44)

Fake Registration Day — A movement is underfoot to undermine news sites that require registration in order to read their content by submitting fake registrations en masse: We, the undersigned, wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they collect. On November 13th we will each register an account using fake details at one or more of these top 10 offending sites: www.nytimes.com www.washingtonpost.com www.latimes.com www.ajc.com
Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2005.   Comments (15)

Noisy Neighbor Revenge CD — I have noisy neighbors, so I've often fantasized about a product like this. It's a noisy neighbor revenge CD that plays loud, annoying sounds such as a newborn baby crying, a drill, a domestic squabble, or the phone ringing. Put it in your stereo, point the speakers at the neighbor's house, and have your revenge. A set of earplugs comes with the CD. My neighbors (college-age kids renting the house next door) have been fond of doing things like blasting rap music at midnight, or playing…
Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005.   Comments (32)

Senior Ceiling Mural Prank — This is pretty cool. Instead of doing a typical obnoxious prank, a senior class in Vermont painted a celestial mural on the ceiling of the main lobby of the school. Normally the rule with pranks is that, to be judged successful, they should annoy, shock, irritate, or poke fun at someone. But I think that surprising people is just as valid a reaction. And what's more surprising than a random act of art? The class of 2005 painted a large celestial mural on a ceiling in the main lobby of…
Posted: Sun Jun 05, 2005.   Comments (28)

Scientists Walk of Fame — I'm a little late on this one, but better late than never. On May 4 Caltech students transformed the Hollywood Walk of Fame into the "Illustrious Scientists Walk of Fame": Students literally covered over 500 of the celebrity stars on Hollywood Blvd. with prestigious scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, David Baltimore, Richard Feynman, Madame Currie... The prank was meant to coincide with the Commemorative U.S. Postage Stamp of preeminent Caltech…
Posted: Mon May 09, 2005.   Comments (8)

Caltech Vs. MIT — A group of Caltech students heads to MIT to throw down the prank gauntlet. They spend the weekend handing out t-shirts to prefrosh that read "MIT" on the front and "because not everybody can go to Caltech" on the back. During the night they spell out the letters C-A-L-T-E-C-H on an MIT building using a low-power laser. They also hang a banner on the MIT dome, changing its name from 'Massachusetts Institute of Technology' to 'That Other Institute of Technology.' They now await MIT's…
Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005.   Comments (5)

Stripping For Money Prank — Richard Brown was under house arrest after posing as a sheriff's deputy in 2002, but even from his home he still managed to get into trouble. The news article describing what he did is a little confusing, but from what I can gather he called up restaurants and told the employees that he spoke to that he was a DJ, and that if they came to his home they could win $50,000. Once they arrived he told them that they had to pass a challenge to win the money. They had to strip naked, then walk…
Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2005.   Comments (7)

Garden Gnome Liberation Front — Wikipedia has a brief blurb about the Garden Gnome Liberation Front. This is a political movement dedicated to liberating gnomes from the gardens in which they are imprisoned. Members of the liberation front remove gnomes from gardens and either take them out to the woods to set them loose, or smash them to set their spirit free (personally I think taking them out to the woods sounds like the more humane option). I wonder if they've ever considered taking them to the underwater gnome…
Posted: Thu Mar 31, 2005.   Comments (40)

Credit Card Prank, Parts I and II — Zug's Credit Card Prank was widely linked to a few years ago. This is the prank as he describes it: Every time you make a credit card purchase, they're supposed to match your signature against the one on the back of your card. Nobody seems to check anymore, so I tried to see how far I could push it with wacky signatures like "Mariah Carey" and "Zeus". Now Zug has posted a sequel to the Credit Card Prank in which he makes his signatures even wackier and tries to discover what he can get…
Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2005.   Comments (16)

Watching Ringu — A video (in quicktime) shows a group of Japanese girls (members of the pop group Morning Musume) watching a video of the horror movie Ringu. There's a lot of shrieking, so definitely turn your speakers down. But wait until the end for the prank that's played on them. The video can also be found on other sites in wmv format.
Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2005.   Comments (15)

Family Pranks for April 1st — FamilyFun has a list of thirteen pranks that can be played on family members on April Fools Day. The list includes:Wake the kids up at 3am and tell them it's time for schoolSew shut the fly on Dad's underwearCreate a fake coffee spill (includes a recipe for doing this: mix together equal parts white glue and brown puff paint and let the mixture dry on wax paper... I have no idea what 'puff paint' is)Fasten a rubber band around the spray attachment on the kitchen sink
Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2005.   Comments (27)

The John Rhys-Davies Internet Rumor Experiment — Rubber Chicken has posted an interesting account of their experiment in spreading rumors and misinformation via their internet. What they wanted to do was plant one seed of misinformation, and see how far it would spread. As it turned out, it spread quite far. Their seed of misinformation was this: they made up a rumor that actor John Rhys-Davies, of Sliders fame, was going to provide the voice for General Grievous, the new CGI villain in Star Wars Episode III. They emailed this rumor…
Posted: Sun Mar 27, 2005.   Comments (9)

Social Security for Sale — 'Billionaires for Bush' placed the American Social Security System up for sale on eBay. Apparently it was quickly pulled, but Billionaires for Bush has archived the auction on their own site: Due to the surprising failure of carefully staged "conversations" across America to convince the American Public that Privatizing Social Security is a good thing, we have decided to take matters into our own hands. As a favor to President Bush and offered exclusively here to the winning bidder…
Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2005.   Comments (3)

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