The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
   
The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Urban Legends
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)

Jacob Hadcock: the new Craig Shergold — The Craig Shergold rumor strikes again. Jacob is a real kid, and he really has leukemia, but he isn't dying. But somehow word got out on the internet that he was dying, and that his last wish was to get christmas cards from everyone. So now the cards are pouring in by the thousands. Link: Associated Press. Below is one of the youtube videos spreading the rumor.
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

CNET lists top 8 brainless tech rumors — CNET UK has come up with a list of "the eight most brainless tech rumours ever." They are: Hoverboards are real The large hadron collider will kill us all X-ray is a hoax Home taping to kill music Apple will buy Nintendo Google to buy CNET Y2K Bug will kill us all Bill Gates is the antichrist An odd list. They've omitted classics such as killer cell phone calls, cell phones explode gas stations, sunlamps cook internal organs, the Nokia speed trap detector, and (of course)
Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

Does dust consist primarily of human skin? — It's a widely repeated factoid that dust consists primarily of human skin. For instance, one can find this piece of information in the first paragraph on the wikipedia page about dust. But Paloma Beamer, a dust expert at the University of Arizona, disputes this claim. From NPR.org: Beamer says there are really only two places dust can come from: outdoors and indoors. We are an important part of the process of getting the outdoor stuff indoors. We bring it with us when we enter a house…
Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2009.   Comments (19)

Does the internet promote extremism and crazy rumors? — Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker discusses whether the internet promotes the spread of bizarre rumors by encouraging "group polarization": People’s tendency to become more extreme after speaking with like-minded others has become known as “group polarization”... “Views that would ordinarily dissolve, simply because of an absence of social support, can be found in large numbers on the Internet, even if they are understood to be exotic, indefensible, or bizarre in most communities,”…
Posted: Mon Nov 09, 2009.   Comments (8)

The Lunar Effect — There's a full moon tonight (had a great view of it here in San Diego). This has inspired WSAW in Wisconsin to phone up a local Professor and quiz him about the "lunar effect": A common superstition says accidents, natural disasters, and bizarre crimes increase during a full moon. One Psychology professor says there is no scientific evidence to support a connection between the moon and our moods. The UW-Marathon County Professor has worked in the Psychology field for more than 20…
Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009.   Comments (9)

Religious urban legends that refuse to die — Even though the famous atheist’s body [Madalyn Murray O’Hair] was discovered in 1998 and positively identified in Texas -- and even though she apparently has been dead since she disappeared in 1995 -- patently false rumors about her alleged anti-Christian campaigns continue to spread. Credulous Christians who once forwarded these kinds of rumors in mimeographed chain letters or spread them on talk radio now can broadcast them around the world with the mere click of a mouse. Link:
Posted: Wed Oct 21, 2009.   Comments (7)

The Montgomery Animal Shelter Isn’t Closing — From nj.com: If you want to bombard a township with calls from angry people, start a rumor that cats and dogs are going to die. That's exactly what happened Tuesday and today, when an Internet rumor claiming the local animal shelter in Montgomery was going to close and all cats and dogs remaining there would be euthanized. And it happened across the country, too, as a viral rumor with countless incarnations made similar claims about shelters in communities named Montgomery. Only one…
Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2009.   Comments (3)

Page 2 of 7 pages  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.