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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Urban Legends
The Argentinian Pet — I guess it's possible that con artists down in Argentina are giving ferrets steroids to increase their size, then fluffing up their fur and selling them as toy poodles, but as many people have already pointed out, this sounds an awful lot like a variant of the "Mexican pet" legend. Man gets shock of his life when he buys two toy poodles for $150 only to be told by a vet that they are actually GIANT RODENTS pumped up with steroids to look like dogs Daily Mail Gullible bargain hunters…
Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013.   Comments (9)

If you kiss someone at Chipotle do you get a free burrito? — The rumor going around is that if you kiss someone while standing in line at Chipotle this Valentine's Day, you'll be rewarded with a free burrito. But on their facebook page, a Chipotle rep refers to this as a "a bad Internet rumor." Someone else wanted to know if they kissed the burrito itself would it be free. Chipotle says you're free to kiss the burrito, but you're still going to have to pay.
Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2013.   Comments (1)

Did President Taft once get stuck in a bathtub? — William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States (1909-1913), was a large man. He reportedly weighed 355 pounds while in office, and according to rumor, he was so large that he once got stuck in the white house bathtub. The experience supposedly so rattled him that he ordered the installation of an extra-large tub big enough to hold four ordinary men. William Howard Taft The story of him getting stuck in a tub has been frequently repeated in books and newspapers, but is there…
Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013.   Comments (1)

Slave Girl for $7.14 Hoax, 1959 — Here's an example of a rumor that swept through an African community back in 1959. The story appeared in The Bakersfield Californian (Nov. 10, 1959). Slave Girl For $7.14 All A Hoax MOMBASA, Kenya (UPI) — Crowds of Africans who wanted to buy wives for $7.14 each have been told by the government that those stories about slave auctions were only rumor. Local official W.P.M. Maigacho had to issue an official denial of the rumors after men from outlying tribes twice gathered in the town…
Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2013.   Comments (1)


An algorithm for finding the source of rumors — A Lausanne-based researcher, Pedro Pinto, has developed an algorithm that can quickly trace rumors back to their original source. From eurekalert.org: "Using our method, we can find the source of all kinds of things circulating in a network just by 'listening' to a limited number of members of that network," explains Pinto. Suppose you come across a rumor about yourself that has spread on Facebook and been sent to 500 people – your friends, or even friends of your friends. How do you…
Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2012.   Comments (1)

What do the lines on Solo Cups mean? — Recently a graphic began circulating on facebook, pinterest, etc. suggesting that the lines on Solo Cups were intended to indicate proper sizes for popular alcoholic drinks (liquor, wine, and beer): The Solo Cup company responded by posting a message on its facebook page, explaining that it never intended the lines to mean any such thing. Although it conceded that the lines could be used for this purpose. Evidently it was worried about being seen as promoting binge drinking, so it…
Posted: Sun Jun 17, 2012.   Comments (3)

Death by Gatorade Shower — In his column on latimes.com, Brian Cronin examines the legend that Hall of Fame football coach George Allen got sick and died after being doused in gatorade by his team following a winning season. Did a Gatorade shower kill George Allen? latimes.com After three straight losing seasons, Allen led the Long Beach 49ers to a season-ending victory over the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on November 17, 1990 that secured them a winning season. Allen's team gave him a Gatorade shower…
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

Breast-Sucking Turtles of Namibia — If you happen to be a young woman in Namibia, watch out for a middle-aged Indian man who may try to strike up a friendship with you. Before too long, he may whip out his breast-sucking turtle. It happened to Lina Sames (link: informante.web.na): Sames, a domestic worker, related how the mysterious man suddenly produced a live turtle, no bigger than the average grown up's hand and pressed the reptile against the victim's right breast. "It proceeded to suck, while at the same time…
Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012.   Comments (1)

Study finds that chivalry at sea is a myth. Men survive shipwrecks at much higher rate than women. — If you're a woman, don't expect much help from men during a shipwreck. In fact, the men are likely to be shoving the women out of the way in their eagerness to save themselves. That's the general message of a new study by Swedish economists Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson, "Every Man for Himself! Gender, Norms and Survival in Maritime Disasters." Women fare worst on British ships — contrary to the tradition of British chivalry. The one exception to this rule was the Titanic, where…
Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012.   Comments (0)

UK Legal Urban Legends — Another list of urban legends from the BBC. This time it's legal urban legends. All the following laws, though frequently repeated, are NOT TRUE: It's illegal to die in Parliament. It's illegal to put a stamp on upside down. It's illegal to eat a mince pie on Christmas Day. It's legal to kill Welsh people in the town of Chester. It's legal for a man to urinate in public, as long as it's on the rear wheel of his car and his right hand is on the vehicle. And pregnant women can legally…
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2012.   Comments (4)

The Turd in the Olympic Ring — Brian Chapman reports the start of an interesting Olympics 2012 rumor on his Legends & Rumors blog: Enormous Olympic rings have started popping up in London. There's a set at St Pancras, another recently floated down the Thames, and a third set will be suspended at Tower Bridge. We're told that there's something special about one of the rings. Someone involved in their construction had a bit of a downer on the whole Olympics in London thing. So he took a shit inside one of the rings.…
Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2012.   Comments (1)

Myths of the Titanic — The BBC has an interesting article about myths associated with the Titanic. The five myths they list, summarized, are: The unsinkability of the Titanic: "the White Star Line never made any substantive claims that the Titanic was unsinkable - and nobody really talked about the ship's unsinkability until after the event"The band played Nearer, My God, To Thee: The band probably did play on deck as the ship sank, but there's no good evidence that their final song was 'Nearer, My God, To…
Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2012.   Comments (3)

The Taj Mahal is Sinking — Apparently it's because the original architects didn't factor in the weight of all the tourists who visit it. Well, no. Not really. According to the BBC, the real reason is that, "The building's foundations require a steady stream of moisture from the Yamuna River to retain its strength - but the river is slowly drying up." But the headline immediately reminded me of the urban legend of the sinking library.
Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012.   Comments (3)

The Great Banana Smoking Hoax of 1967 — Brooke Kroeger and Cary Abrams have an article in the Local East Village analyzing the Great Banana-Smoking Hoax of 1967 -- in which a rumor spread alleging that you could get high by smoking bananas. Or rather, get high by smoking "bananadine," created by scraping the inside of a banana peel, boiling the residue, then drying out the residue and rolling it into a joint. They try to get to the bottom of who started the rumor. One contender is the staff of the East Village Other
Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2012.   Comments (4)

Woman-Turns-Into-Snake Rumor — Social networking sites in Nigeria have been ablaze with the rumor that a woman turned into a snake at the Hotel Excel in Warri. The proprietor of the hotel, Chief Moses Odeh, has been doing everything he can to put out the rumor, but once these stories get started, they acquire a life of their own. (informationnigeria.org) African rumors still have true strangeness to them. Here in America, the majority of twitter and facebook rumors are fake reports of celebrity deaths... which get…
Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012.   Comments (7)

Are there more doctors from Malawi in Manchester than in Malawi? — Charlotte McDonald of the BBC News debunks a persistent rumor that there are more doctors from Malawi in Manchester than there are in Malawi itself. Apparently the rumor has been repeated by a variety of sources including "the authors of an international study of health workers, and the head of Malawi's main nursing union." However, the rumor isn't true. She estimates there are approximately 265 doctors in Malawi (which isn't a whole lot for a country of 15 million), but there are only…
Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2012.   Comments (1)

$16 Muffins — The legend of Out-Of-Control Government Expenditures is alive and well. Back in the 1980s, reports of the US government paying $400 for a hammer and $600 for a toilet sparked outrage. And now, late last month, came the news that the Justice Department had paid $16 a piece for muffins at a 2009 conference. But just as the hammer and toilet weren't really as expensive as they seemed, it turns out that the price of the muffins was an artifact of accounting. The $16 included the entire…
Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2011.   Comments (2)

Disney World Urban Legends — Time magazine offers a list of the Top 5 Disney World Urban Legends: Walt Disney built a special suite for himself in Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom. (Apparently this wasn't true while Disney was alive, though there is a suite there now in which special visitors can stay.)Cinderella's castle can be disassembled or made to sink into the ground to protect it from natural disasters such as hurricanes. In the case of a death at a Disney park, no one can be declared dead until…
Posted: Tue Oct 04, 2011.   Comments (10)

Plastic Caps for Cancer — The collecting-junk-for-charity hoax must be at least a century old by now. It resurfaced most recently in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where members of a church had been collecting plastic bottle caps, thinking the caps would somehow help pay for chemotherapy treatment for a sick child. One of the church members, when she learned the truth, had this to say about the hoax: "It's a form of terrorism because it disrupts your day-to-day life and prevents you from doing the things you want…
Posted: Mon Sep 05, 2011.   Comments (3)

Crop Circles and Ostension — An article on smithsonian.com discusses the history of crop circles and why people believe in them. Part of the reason is the paradox of ostension. Fake evidence, even if proven fake, nevertheless tends to reinforce belief: False evidence intended to corroborate an existing legend is known to folklorists as “ostension.” This process also inevitably extends the legend. For, even if the evidence is eventually exposed as false, it will have affected people’s perceptions of the phenomenon…
Posted: Wed Dec 23, 2009.   Comments (21)

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