The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
It's long been rumored that there were millions of copies of an Atari video game, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, buried in the New Mexico desert. But the rumor seemed so bizarre that it was often dismissed as an urban legend. The story goes that back in the early 1980s Atari developed the game as a tie-in with Steven Spielberg's movie. But game designer Howard Warshaw was given only five and a half weeks to create it in time for Christmas, and as a result, the game turned out to be awful. Reviewers panned it, and consumers didn't buy it. Atari took a huge loss on the game, leading to a massive devaluation of its stock. The…
Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 Comments (3)

CodeBabes is a new site that promises to make the process of learning how to write code more fun by using "hot babes" as the instructors in video tutorials. Every time the student advances a level, the "babe" removes an item of clothing. The website explains: "We've developed a revolutionary learning programme that leverages sexual desire and turns it into the most powerful learning mechanism ever known to mankind. Babes and code. You watch the lesson. Absorb the info. Pass the quiz, and your instructor removes one piece of clothing. How much clothing, you ask? Enough to motivate you. But let's not get carried away here. We're an education site."…
Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 Comments (5)

Earlier this week, a picture of a great white shark swimming close to the shore made the local news here in San Diego. I actually saw the broadcast. The news team interviewed a shark expert who confirmed that it was definitely a great white in the photo, and went on to explain that great whites were becoming more common in the area because of the growing seal population. An area of slight discoloration in the water at the right of the photo was said to be the remains of an animal the shark had killed. But now it turns out the photo was a fake. The original picture showed a dolphin, not a…
Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 Comments (1)

The audience at the recent Broadway premiere of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" found playbills beneath their seats for a completely different production, "Hurt Locker: The Musical." However, there is no musical stage version of The Hurt Locker (nor any stage version of it at all). The fake musical was the creation of Hedwig's producers. The NY Daily News explains: "Hedwig" is being performed at the Belasco Theatre — and to maintain the illusion of a late-night one-off show by an East-German transgender pop-rocker — producers littered the floor with Playbills from a show that opened and closed on the same night. Enter "Hurt Locker" Fauxbills.
Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 Comments (0)


The Tundra Drums details some myths and hoaxes about Alaska wildlife. For instance: Eagles do not actually snatch toddlers (they're too heavy). Nor are there any credible reports of eagles snatching up pet dogs. Eagles' talons do not involuntarily lock. They can let go if they want. But often they choose not to let go, even if a big fish is dragging them through the water. The 'majestic cry' of the eagle actually sounds more like a squeaky chirp. Which is why movies often dub in the call of the red-tailed hawk. Bears can run downhill. They can also climb trees very well.
Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 Comments (0)

Today is the 295th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. But as Rebekah Higgitt (writing for The Guardian) points out, the earliest editions of the book claimed that Robinson Crusoe himself, not Defoe, was its author. Also, there was nothing to indicate the book was fiction. In other words, the book was a literary hoax. More specifically, it was "a satire on travel narratives and other texts attempting to present reliable knowledge."
Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 Comments (0)

It's called "beezin". It involves applying Burt's Bees lip balm to your eyelids. Media reports (such as here and here) are hyping it as a worrying new trend among teens. Supposedly it enhances the experience of being drunk or high. But doctors warn that it could also cause eye inflammation. Could this possibly be real? It sounds as stupid as that fake news report that was circulating recently about teens smoking bed bugs to get high. The reason.com blog is skeptical about the entire thing, but notes that even if kids really are "beezin," the media panic seems unfounded. Do we really need to be worried…
Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 Comments (1)

On Good Friday, the folks at the Cowgirl Cafe in Norco, CA were flipping pancakes on the grill, when they flipped one over and saw the face of Jesus staring back at them. Or maybe it's the face of Charles Manson, or maybe Frank Zappa. There's some disagreement on exactly who it looks most like. The "Jesus Pancake" is now being stored in a freezer, awaiting a decision about its final fate.
Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 Comments (4)

Seven years ago Dan Baines created a mummified fairy as an April Fool's Day hoax. Now he's taken to Kickstarter to raise money so that he can produce a "Mummified Fairy Kit" that will contain everything a person needs to create their own mummified fairy. He hoped to raise £5,000, and he's already raised more than that: £8,106 as I write this, with six days left before the funding period closes. So it seems like he's discovered a strong market demand for mummified fairies!
Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 Comments (0)

My mother noticed that the AARP Bulletin had a short feature about "Great Hoaxes," so she sent it to me. It's a somewhat random selection of six hoaxes, but that's no surprise. These short list-type features in magazines often seem like they choose things to list at random. The six hoaxes are: Left-Handed Whopper (1998) -- Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist (1964) -- The Hitler Diaries (1983) -- The Masked Marauders (1969) - wikipedia link -- Sidd Finch (1985) -- The Autobiography of Howard Hughes
Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 Comments (0)

The Scotsman has a brief feature about Nessie's lesser-known cousin, Morag, who inhabits Loch Morar, seventy miles away from Loch Ness. I wonder how much more tourism Loch Ness gets compared with Loch Morar, just on account of having a better known beastie.
Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 Comments (0)

Laura "Mom" Bedford, owner of a roadside barbecue stand in Miami, Fla., made headlines in March 1937 when she announced what appeared to be a biological miracle. Her maltese cat had given birth to three kittens and two puppies (aka "kuppies"). Bedford explained, "I didn't pay them any mind when they were born. I was too busy. I just looked in the box under the kitchen sink and saw what I thought were five black kittens. I figured they would be all right." But two days later, she heard…
Posted: Thu Apr 24, 2014 Comments (0)

Foreo, a cosmetics company, has announced an initiative to brighten the moon. It argues that this will provide the world with a huge savings in money spent on lights at night. And by reducing nighttime energy consumption, it will also be good for the environment. So how exactly does Foreo intend to brighten the moon? It kind of glosses over that detail, but the basic idea will be to make the surface of the moon more reflective, so that it will reflect more of the sun's light. Perhaps this…
Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 Comments (1)

Users of Apple's map app have spotted something in Loch Ness. Gary Campbell, president of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, told the Daily Mail, "It looks like a boat wake, but the boat is missing... the size of the object would make it likely to be Nessie." The image I've posted here is a detail-enhanced image, because in the original Apple map image, it's difficult to see much of anything at all. So what is it? The Southern Fried Science blog argues that it's almost certainly…
Posted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 Comments (3)

A new book by Ed Sherman examines the question of whether Babe Ruth actually called a shot in the 1932 World Series. It's one of the greatest legends in baseball. But is it actually true? From the book: These are the facts. On Oct. 1, 1932, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs played Game Three of the World Series at Wrigley Field. In the fifth inning, Ruth at the plate faced the Cubs' Charlie Root, two strikes on him. Ruth, jawing with the Cubs dugout, held out two fingers. Ruth sent the next pitch soaring toward Lake Michigan. The ball…
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 Comments (0)

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