The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
June 11, 1990: America Loves Donald Trump!
On this day in 1990, USA Today announced the results of a phone-in poll, showing that 81% of callers believed Donald Trump symbolized "what makes the USA a great country." The headline declared, "You like him! You really like him!" A month later, the paper admitted that 70% of the votes (5,640 of 7,802 calls) came from two phones in an office building in Ohio owned by financier Carl Lindner Jr. Without those votes, the survey showed that a majority of callers believed Trump represented "the things that are wrong with this country." [LA Times]


Posted: Wed Jun 11, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 10, 1865: Frederick Cook Born
American explorer Frederick Cook claimed to have been the first to reach the summit of Mount McKinley, as well as to have been the first to reach the North Pole. Both these claims were derided as fraudulent during his life, and his reputation suffered greatly. Cook had a particularly bitter rivalry with Robert Peary, who also claimed to have been the first to the North Pole. Modern analysis suggests that it's likely neither man actually reached the Pole. [wikipedia]


Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 9, 1987: Save the Geoduck
The Save the Geoduck Committee held a protest in New York to bring attention to the "plight of the geoduck" (which is a kind of clam) because it was apparently threatened with extinction on account of a "voracious international appetite for aphrodisiacs." United Press International covered the protest, leading to nationwide attention for the group. In fact, the geoduck was not in any danger, nor was it used as an aphrodisiac. The Save the Geoduck committee was the creation of media hoaxer Joey Skaggs. [joeyskaggs.com]


Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 8, 1958: The Rooftop Austin Seven
Residents of Cambridge woke to find an Austin Seven parked on the 70ft-high rooftop of Senate House. The student ringleader of the prank later explained that he felt the roof "cried out" to be made more interesting. It took police and firefighters over a week to figure out how to get the car off the roof. [The Telegraph]

June 8, 1992: Pregnant Man Debunked
A Filipino male nurse, Edwin Bayron, who had received worldwide media attention when it was announced that he had become the first ever man to become pregnant, was exposed as a fake. He had initially fooled health officials by claiming to be a hermaphrodite, strapping on a fake belly, and doctoring his urine tests. He concocted the hoax in order to support a court application to legally change his gender so that he could marry his Army officer lover. [top.net.nz]


Posted: Sun Jun 08, 2014.   Comments (4)


June 7, 2009: The Birth of Little April Rose
A Chicago woman who identified herself only as "B" or "April's Mom" had attracted a large online following by blogging about her decision to give birth to a child diagnosed as terminally ill. On June 7, 2009 she announced that the child, April Rose, had survived a home birth, but had died a few hours later. But skeptics soon noticed that the photos of April Rose actually showed a lifelike doll and not a real baby. After this revelation, her entire story quickly unraveled, exposing the truth — that she hadn't been pregnant at all. [Chicago Tribune]


Posted: Sat Jun 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 6, 1944: D-Day
Allied forces landed on the beaches at Normandy. The invasion was preceded by Operation Fortitude, one of the largest campaigns of military deception ever undertaken, which involved the creation of fake field armies consisting of inflatable rubber tanks and planes. The Operation succeeded in convincing the Axis powers that the invasion was going to occur somewhere other than Normandy. [wikipedia]

June 6, 2011: Gay Girl in Damascus Kidnapped
It was reported that popular blogger Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari, author of the blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus," had been captured and detained by armed men in Syria. But as a result of the media attention generated by this news, questions started to be raised about her identity, leading to the revelation that Amina was actually Tom MacMaster , a 40-year-old American man studying for a masters at Edinburgh University. [wikipedia]


Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 5, 1961: Piotr Zak
On this day, the highbrow BBC radio show network Third Programme presented an "avant-garde work" titled "Mobile for Tape and Percussion" by the Polish composer Piotr Zak, who was said to be one of the youngest and most controversial figures in modern music. Two months later, the BBC confessed that Piotr Zak didn't exist. A company BBC spokesman explained, "We dragged together all the instruments we could and went around the studio banging them… It was an experiment to demonstrate that some contemporary compositions are so obscure as to be indistinguishable from tapes of percussion played at random." [wikipedia]

June 5, 2000: Shades for Men Lipstick
Ads appeared on the side of Toronto buses announcing the launch of a men's lipstick line called "Shades for Men." However, this product never went on sale. It turned out to be a hoax campaign used to test the effectiveness of bus advertising as a vehicle for launching new products.


Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2014.   Comments (3)

My First Tattoo — On Tuesday, a sign went up in a shop window in the town of Whitstable alerting residents that Britain's "first tattoo parlour for kids" would soon be opening there. The website for this new business, myfirsttattoo.eu, showed a kid-friendly Hello Kitty tattoo. Surely this can't be happening in Whitstable! It's a joke right! pic.twitter.com/XKvFe36WfT— Deborah Roberts (@robertsontwit) June 3, 2014 Locals were shocked. But the sign was quickly revealed to be a hoax created by artist Sadie Hennessy who told the Daily Mail that, "I'm not doing it to make a fool out of people, I'm just…Continue…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 4, 1872: The Great Diamond Hoax
Two prospectors arrived with a group of investors at a field in Colorado that appeared to be full of diamonds lying close to the surface — just as the prospectors had promised it would be. The investors enthusiastically paid a large finding fee, but later discovered (after the prospectors had disappeared) that the field had been artificially salted with diamonds. [Smithsonian]


Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

Rusty AC Jesus — Christopher Goldsberry of Jackson County, MS said that when he saw the rust pattern on this old AC unit, he "knew who that was immediately." Of course, it was Jesus. Who else? But Goldsberry added, "The gentleman I purchased it from didn't see any of it. Think about it. They don't recognize what it is. Some people see it, some people don't. Think about that." [foxcarolina.com]
Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2014.   Comments (2)

June 3, 2002: The Retractable Capitol Dome
On this day in 2002, the Beijing Evening News ran a story alleging that the U.S. Congress was hoping to construct a new Capitol building that included a retractable dome roof. When critics mocked the newspaper for having mistaken a satirical story in The Onion for real news, the paper's editor denied this, saying "How can you prove it's not correct? Is it incorrect just because you say it is?" More …


Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 2, 2001: Dave Manning Exposed
Newsweek reporter John Horn revealed that movie reviewer Dave Manning, whose positive blurbs often appeared on ads for movies put out by Columbia Pictures, didn't actually exist. He was a fictional person created by a marketing executive at Sony, the parent company of Columbia Pictures, entirely for the purpose of making it appear as if their movies were getting good reviews. More…


Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2014.   Comments (0)

June 1, 1997: Wear Sunscreen!
Mary Schmich published a humorous column in the Chicago Tribune on June 1 advising college grads that her best advice for the future was to "wear sunscreen." Two months later, the text of her column began circulating widely via email, but attributed to Kurt Vonnegut and said to be a commencement speech he had given at MIT. Even Vonnegut's wife reportedly received the hoax email and, believing it to actually be the work of her husband, forwarded it to family and friends. [about.com, Chicago Tribune]

June 1, 2007: De Grote Donorshow
The premise of the Dutch reality TV show De Grote Donorshow (The Big Donor Show) was that a terminally ill woman with an incurable brain tumor would decide which of 25 "contestants" in need of a kidney transplant would get to have her organ. Despite widespread condemnation, the show went ahead as planned, airing on June 1, 2007. But minutes before the end, the entire thing was revealed to be a hoax designed to publicize the urgent need for more organ donors. [wikipedia]

Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2014.   Comments (1)

May 31, 1725: The Lying Stones of Dr. Beringer
On this day, Dr. Johann Beringer, a University of W├╝rzburg professor, was given three unusual fossils that showed images (the sun and several worms) in three-dimensional relief. Beringer thought he had made a remarkable discovery and grew even more convinced of this when many more, similar stones turned up. He eventually authored a book about the stones. At which point, he found out that two fellow professors had created the stones to hoax him. More…

May 31, 2003: The Cesky Sen Hypermarket
Lured by ads throughout Prague promoting a new hypermarket called Cesky Sen ("Czech Dream") that would sell products at unbelievably low prices, hundreds of people showed up at the Lethany Fairgrounds for the grand opening. But all they found was a giant Cesky Sen banner. There was no hypermarket, nor plans to build one. Several student filmmakers had set out to record what would happen when consumer's expectations collided with reality, and so had launched a marketing blitz to promote a non-existent, too-good-to-be-true store. More…


Posted: Sat May 31, 2014.   Comments (0)

May 30, 2000: spud server revealed to be a hoax
It was purported to be a web server powered entirely by potatoes, and it served up web pages at an appropriately slow, potato-powered speed. After gaining international media exposure — both USA Today and the BBC reported about it — the makers of Spud Server admitted it was all a joke. There was no giant potato battery powering their site. More…


Posted: Fri May 30, 2014.   Comments (0)

May 29, 1947: Sea Monster Attacks Tokyo
The armed forces radio station in Tokyo interrupted its evening broadcast to report that a 20-foot sea monster had emerged from Tokyo Bay and was making its way inland. A series of bulletins provided updates on the progress of the creature as it derailed trains and smashed buildings. The report caused widespread panic. Military police were put on alert, and Japanese police were told to stand by to fight the monster. But after an hour, the announcer admitted the news flashes had just been a joke in honor of the station's fifth anniversary. More…


Posted: Thu May 29, 2014.   Comments (0)

Futility Closet on the Dreadnought Hoax — The Futility Closet blog recently posted a podcast about the 1910 Dreadnought hoax, in which upper-class British pranksters, disguised as Abyssinian princes, managed to fool the British navy into giving them a tour of the HMS Dreadnought. Even if you're familiar with the story, it's worth a listen, because it's a good account of it.
Posted: Wed May 28, 2014.   Comments (0)

May 28, 1952: The Cornell War Broadcast Hoax
On the night of May 28, 1952, a group of Cornell students disguised by halloween masks raided the campus radio station, WVBR, and began broadcasting news flashes claiming that Russian planes had bombed Paris, Marseilles, and London. The reports initially caused hysteria in the dorms, although most people soon realized they were fake. The Dean of the University later described it as a "lunatic stunt." The students involved were suspended for a year. [Cornell Archives]

Posted: Wed May 28, 2014.   Comments (0)

May 27, 1959: SINA makes Today Show debut
Actor Buck Henry, in character as G. Clifford Prout, president of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, appeared on NBC's Today Show. As Prout, he urged Americans to promote decency by putting clothes on naked animals. SINA continued its unusual campaign for four years until it was revealed to be a hoax masterminded by Alan Abel. More…

Posted: Tue May 27, 2014.   Comments (0)

Norwegian artist ate his own hip, maybe — Norwegian conceptual artist Alexander Wengshoel claims that following a hip replacement operation four years ago, he was allowed to keep his removed hip. So he went home, boiled the bone to remove the meat, and then ate the meat accompanied by some wine and potato gratin. He said it tasted like "wild sheep, if you take a sheep that goes in the mountains and eats mushrooms. It was goaty." Sensing that Wengshoel's story might be complete baloney, the reporter from The Local asked him if it was a hoax — apparently on the theory that, if asked, a hoaxer will readily admit he's lying.…Continue…
Posted: Mon May 26, 2014.   Comments (3)

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