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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Science
Stephen Hawking is on the Mic — You may know Stephen Hawking as the brilliant theoretical physicist and best-selling author of A Brief History of Time. But did you also know that in his spare time the man is a gangsta rapper? Perhaps you're familiar with his album, A Brief History of Rhyme. Hawking's other career as a 'lyrical terrorist' is lovingly explored on this fan site, MC Hawking's Crib. Yeah, it's a hoax, but it's amazingly detailed, even including MP3 samples of Hawking's songs. (And thanks to Bill Boldt for…
Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2004.   Comments (3)

Dragon Hoax Was a Hoax — Back in January I posted an entry about what I called the Almost Great Dragon Hoax. It described a tiny dragon that had been found in a jar of formaldehyde in a garage in Oxfordshire. Supposedly the dragon had been created in the nineteenth century by German scientists trying to hoax their British counterparts, but the joke had been spotted by the British and placed in the trash... only to be recovered from there and end up years later in the Oxfordshire garage. Now it turns out that…
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (1)

Dihydrogen Monoxide Claims A Victim — I didn't think there was anyone left who hadn't heard this joke already. It's the one about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide, a chemical found in many toxic substances and often used as an industrial solvent. Sounds scary, but dihydrogen monoxide is, of course, simply the scientific name for water, or H2O. Apparently the city council of Aliso Viejo, California hadn't heard the joke before, because they were about to ban the use of styrofoam cups because dihydrogen monoxide was used in…
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2004.   Comments (3)

Peppered Moth Evolution Kit — In 1953 Bernard Kettlewell performed a set of experiments that proved that predation by birds was responsible for the peppered moth population changing from mostly white to mostly black. The reasoning was that industrial pollution had caused the barks of trees to turn dark. Therefore black moths resting during the day on the darkened trunks of trees had a selective advantage over white moths, because the birds could see the white moths more easily and prey on them. Kettlewell released…
Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2004.   Comments (4)


Transgenic, hair-growing plants — New Scientist has published an interview with Laura Cinti, an artist who claims that she has collaborated with an unnamed genetics lab in order to create a transgenic cactus that grows human hair. Christopher Chauvin brought this to my attention, and, like him, I'm a bit skeptical of Cinti's claims. First of all, it seems like quite a scientific achievement to get a cactus to grow human hair. Second, it seems suspicious that the lab that did the work can't be named. Third, it doesn't…
Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2004.   Comments (14)

The Almost Great Dragon Hoax — A tiny dragon, pickled in formaldehyde, has been found in a garage in Oxfordshire. Its origins trace back to the 1890s when it was given to the British Natural History Museum by German scientists. Evidently the Germans were trying to play a joke on their British counterparts by getting them to believe that this tiny dragon was real. But the British didn't fall for it and threw the dragon away. Luckily someone saved it, and somehow, years later, it ended up in the Oxfordshire garage.…
Posted: Wed Jan 28, 2004.   Comments (1)

Piltdown Man — Dr. Miles Russell argues that Charles Dawson had to be the sole perpetrator of the Piltdown Hoax, since Dawson had a long history of creating archaeological frauds.
Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2003.   Comments (0)

Science Hoaxes — Tim Radford has a piece in today's Guardian on his Top 10 favorite Science Hoaxes of All Time. The Piltdown Man comes in at number one. Strangely, he seemed to omit a number of very famous cases, such as the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, the Cardiff Giant, the Paul Kammerer 'Case of the Midwife Toad', William Summerlin and his painted mice, Shinichi Fujimura's Stone Age discoveries, and the recent Piltdown Chicken (of National Geographic fame). But then, it is his list, and I guess everyone…
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003.   Comments (0)

Were there 2 Piltdown Hoaxers? — Here's even more stuff about the Piltdown Man (there's a lot of stuff about this because of the anniversary of the exposure of the fraud). The Independent reports that two academics are going to give a lecture in which they'll argue that two independent hoaxers were responsible for the piltdown frauds. But as far as I know, this theory has actually been floating around for a while.
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003.   Comments (0)

Piltdown Man on TV — Andrew Nixon sends word of a tv program that British hoax enthusiasts might want to watch. It's BBC2's special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the exposure of the Piltdown Man. It'll be titled "Britain's Greatest Hoax," airing Friday 21st November at 9pm.
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2003.   Comments (0)

Happy 50th Birthday, Piltdown Man! — The Piltdown Man skull is being taken out of storage this month and put on display at Britain's Natural History Museum, as part of the Pfizer Annual Science Forum. They're putting it on display in order to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the fraud (I guess it's better to celebrate when they discovered the fraud, rather than when the fraud was first perpetrated). The Washington Post has a good, informative article about the history of Piltdown Man.
Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2003.   Comments (0)

First Genetics — First Genetics: The website of the first laboratory to have successfully genetically engineered an ape to be able to communicate with humans via typing on a keyboard
Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2003.   Comments (0)

The Hoaxing of Margaret Mead — Thanks to Derek Freeman's work, a lot of people know that the anthropologist Margaret Mead was hoaxed into believing that young Samoan girls were far more sexually active than they actually were. But Mead made influential claims about other cultures as well, about which she apparently was just as wrong, according to this article in Front Page Magazine. For instance, she claimed that the Mountain Arapesh, a tribe of New Guinea yam gardeners, had no knowledge of the concept of war. Not…
Posted: Sun Sep 14, 2003.   Comments (0)

Is Peter Lynds a Hoax? — Recently a 27-year-old New Zealander named Peter Lynds has been getting a lot of attention. He's been hailed as the next Einstein because he's come up with an entirely new theory of time. And he's done this without having any formal qualifications as a physicist. But suggestions that Peter Lynds may be nothing more than a hoax have been cropping up. Some have even doubted the guy's existence. The Guardian investigated and found that Lynds was real enough, but that his work hasn't…
Posted: Sat Aug 16, 2003.   Comments (0)

Tasaday Revisited — There's a very good review of the Tasaday controversy by James Hamilton-Paterson in the Guardian. Like many, Hamilton-Paterson concludes that the Tasaday were not quite the hoax that everyone has assumed for the past two decades.
Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2003.   Comments (0)

Lie Detectors — New, more accurate lie detectors being developed based on brain analysis.
Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2003.   Comments (0)

Stone Age Tasaday — Newsday has a review of a new book by Robin Hemley titled Invented Eden analyzing the controversy about the Tasaday tribe. Were they really a 'hoax' tribe, directed to act and dress like a primitive tribe? Or were they in some sense authentic? Hemley's answer is that both versions are partially correct.
Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2003.   Comments (0)

More on the Reverse Sokal Hoax — Regarding the Reverse Sokal Hoax described below: apparently the two brothers supposedly involved in it have denied that it was a hoax (see their statement pasted below). So the mystery continues. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN It was with the greatest astonishment that we have discovered that 2 members of the Ecole Polytechnique and 2 members of the University of Tours were the sources of an incredible rumor meant to validate the ideathat our papers were purposly written in serious journals…
Posted: Mon Oct 28, 2002.   Comments (0)

Reverse Sokal Hoax — There is an e-mail going around detailing a so-called 'reverse Sokal hoax.' I'm not sure if the circumstances it describes are real or not. But here's the text of the e-mail verbatim: Sometime ago Alan Sokol et al wrote a completely meaningless article on quantum gravity which was accepted by a leading, refereed "deconstructionist journal". Physicists laughed because the hoax was at the deconstructionists' expense. But now there is is an inverse Sokol hoax in which, apparently, two…
Posted: Mon Oct 28, 2002.   Comments (0)

WHO Blonde Report — The greatest blonde joke ever!!! The media had been enamored of the story that the World Health Organization had predicted the eventual disappearance of the gene for blond hair because there are so many artificial blondes that they're diluting the gene selection for true blondes. But the WHO had never issued a report saying this. It was all a joke.
Posted: Thu Oct 03, 2002.   Comments (1)

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.