The Hoax Museum Blog

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 14

July 14, 1992: Portofess
Father Anthony Joseph showed up at the Democratic National Convention in New York City with his portable confessional booth ("Portofess"), mounted on the back of a large tricycle. He explained that he aimed to provide "Religion on the move for people on the go," and also that, "The Church must go where the sinners are." Portofess made national news. But Father Joseph was really veteran hoaxer Joey Skaggs in disguise. Many of the journalists who interviewed "Father Joseph" had interviewed Skaggs before, but didn't recognize him. []
Posted: Mon Jul 14, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 13

July 13, 1855: The Silver Lake Sea Serpent
Two boys and five men fishing on Silver Lake in New York reported seeing a "horrid and repulsive looking monster" swimming in the water. Other sightings soon followed, triggering an influx of visitors to the region hoping to see the creature. Several years later, a local hotel owner, Artemus Walker, was credited with having created the monster as a way to drum up business. He supposedly made it out of a 60-foot canvas inflated by bellows. However, skeptics note that his elaborate creation seems as implausible as the lake serpent itself. []
Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2014.   Comments (0)

Missing: Pregnant Tarantula Named Penelope

On Thursday, someone posted flyers around Brooklyn alerting everyone that their pregnant red rump tarantula named Penelope had gone missing. "I know she looks crazy scary," the flyer said, "but she's mostly harmless." (Tarantulas definitely do look scary, but their bite really isn't that dangerous. It's comparable to a bee sting.) Anyway, Penelop's owner asked that if anyone found her, to put her in a "tupperware bowl" with holes and phone him. Naturally, these signs attracted quite a bit of attention. Someone even started a Twitter account in Penelope's honor. But last night,…

Posted: Sat Jul 12, 2014.   Comments (0)

Hair Curl Pareidolia

Kristin Kissee recently posted on Facebook a photo of her hair as it looked growing back from chemo and radiation back in November 2011. Apparently she just realized, as she was looking through old photos, that some of her hair curls in this photo appeared to spell "God". Although it looks to me like it could also spell "Good" or "Goo". []. Hair-curl pareidolia is something you don't see that often. By far the most famous example of it is in that famous poster of Farrah Fawcett, where her hair curls kinda/sorta spell "SEX".

Posted: Sat Jul 12, 2014.   Comments (1)

Spielberg Slaughters A Triceratops

Last Sunday, Facebook user Jay Branscomb posted a picture of director Steven Spielberg posing with a triceratops, with the comment, "Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man." Of course, triceratops have been extinct for millions of years. Spielberg was posing next to a movie prop from Jurassic Park, not an actual animal. Branscomb intended his post as a joke, alluding to the ongoing brouhaha about Kendall Jones, the 19-year-old cheerleader who likes hunting big…

Posted: Sat Jul 12, 2014.   Comments (2)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 12

July 12, 1945: Van Meegeren Confesses
Han van Meegeren, on trial in the Netherlands for selling to the Nazis a painting by Johannes Vermeer (considered a national treasure), defended himself by confessing that the painting wasn't actually by Vermeer. He had painted it himself. In fact, he had been churning out fake Vermeers for years, amassing a small fortune in the process. He was convicted of forgery, but died of a heart attack before serving any time. More…
Posted: Sat Jul 12, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 11

July 11, 1947: Twin Falls UFO Hoax
The FBI, Army Intelligence, and police all responded to a report of the discovery of a "flying saucer" in the yard of Mrs. T.H. Thompson of Twin Falls, Idaho. The saucer was discovered by her neighbor who heard a "thudding noise" at about 2:30 am, ran outside, and found a large metallic disk on the lawn. The authorities spent a day trying to figure out what the object was, as townsfolk worried whether they were being invaded by extraterrestrials, before four teenage boys admitted they had made it as a prank. It had taken them several days to make the saucer which was replete with "a plexiglass dome, radio tubes, burned wires, and glistening sides of silver and gold."
Posted: Fri Jul 11, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Rat Wrap

Photos of a rat found in a wrap ordered from Chop't (a New York sandwich and salad restaurant) have recently caused quite a stir on Twitter. Naturally, people are wondering if this is some kind of hoax, since claiming to find gross things in your food is a time-honored way of trying to shake down restaurants. (Remember the lady who found the severed finger in her chili at Wendy's!) Gothamist has been in touch with people at the law firm where the "rat wrap" was delivered to, who insist that there's no hoax on their end. And Chop't is saying that it doesn't believe this is the work…

Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2014.   Comments (0)

29 (lip-synced) celebrity impressions in one song — A video of musician Rob Cantor doing 29 Celebrity impressions in one song got over 7 millions views on youtube since July 1. But now Cantor has admitted that he was lip-syncing the impressions as a way to get people to listen to the song. The process of creating the impressions that he lip-synced to turns out to have been quite elaborate, and he's released a new video showing how it all worked. And that video is also going viral. So this guy really knows how to use social media to…
Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 10

July 10, 1969: Donald Crowhurst's boat found
Crowhurst was a competitor in a round-the-world, non-stop, solo sailing race. But as he lagged further behind the other competitors, he devised a scheme to fake his way into the lead by remaining in the Atlantic while the other boats circumnavigated the globe, so that upon their return it would appear as if he was in the lead. But apparently realizing that he was doomed to be found out, and possibly having succumbed to insanity, he jumped overboard instead, leaving his boat empty. [wikipedia]
Posted: Thu Jul 10, 2014.   Comments (0)

Holy Eggplants

Line cook Jemarcus Brady, who works at Gino's restaurant in Baton Rouge, LA., was recently slicing through an eggplant, when he realized that the seeds spelled the word 'GOD'. Brady said that seeing that word in the eggplant was like God himself "showing me, hey, I'm real." However, this isn't the first time the name of God has appeared in an eggplant. The phenomenon has a long history. Back in 2007, Felicia Teske of Pennsylvania also found the word "GOD" in an eggplant. Before that, in 2003, a woman in Mendhasalis, India sliced into an eggplant and found that its seeds spelled…

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Disappearing Redhead Gene

Marie Claire notes on its blog that the idea that the gene for red hair could soon become "totally extinct" is just a hoax. [The disappearing redhead gene is a variant of the old disappearing blonde gene urban legend.] Nevertheless, Marie Claire does warn that global warming could cause "a dramatic increase in people born with auburn hair." It's getting this from The Daily Record, which in turn is getting it from a Dr. Alistair Moffat who works at a genetic testing company. Moffat's reasoning is that "red hair in Scotland, Ireland and the north of England is adaptation to the…

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014.   Comments (5)

Selfie taken by a ghost

Gina Mihai of Romania claims that on her cell phone she received a selfie taken by her grandmother, who happens to be dead. Gina says, "I was making doughnuts at the time and didn't want to get the phone dirty so I put it in my pocket, and when I took it out there was the image on the phone." Logically, it must be a picture of her grandmother, rather than a blurry shot of Gina herself, since Gina had failed to take any food to her grandmother's grave, per Romanian custom, and this is her grandmother's way of reminding her to do so. [Daily Mirror]

Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014.   Comments (1)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 9

July 9, 1986: Cruise Control as Autopilot Legend
On this day in 1986, the Wall Street Journal reported what it described as a strange insurance claim paid off by Allstate. A woman, it said, had been cruising along a highway in the Washington DC area in her new van when her baby started crying from the back. So she turned cruise control on, believing this would allow the van to "drive itself," and left the wheel to check her baby. A multiple car-crash ensued. Allstate later clarified that it had never actually paid such a claim, though it conceded that the story of this supposed incident was frequently shared among its claims managers.
Posted: Wed Jul 09, 2014.   Comments (1)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 8

July 8, 1953: The Great Monkey Hoax
Three young men reported running over a space alien on a rural Georgia highway. What made this case unusual is that the body of the alien was lying on the highway to prove their tale. The incident quickly made national headlines. But when scientists from Emory University examined the 'alien,' they determined it was actually a Capuchin monkey with its tail cut off and fur removed with depilatory cream. The boys confessed they had created it as a prank. More…
Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2014.   Comments (0)

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