The Hoax Museum Blog

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)

My Lips Are For Blowing

It seems pretty obvious, if you think about it, that the album "My Lips Are For Blowing" by Svetlana Gruebbersolvik cannot be a real album. After all, even if you assume that the name of this album might have been an awkward translation from a Russian original, why would Tamla records (aka Motown) have put out an album of a Russian recorder player? Nevertheless, the image of this album cover has circulated widely, and a lot of people seem to be under the impression that it's an actual album. For instance, it recently popped up on the "History in Pictures" twitter feed, with no…

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014.   Comments (4)


Bible Didn’t Stop Bullets

Back in February, a bus driver, Rickey Wagoner, claimed that he was shot at by three teenagers while he was standing outside his bus. But he survived because a Bible he was carrying in his shirt pocket miraculously stopped the bullets. (The version of the Bible was a translation by Eugene Peterson titled 'The Message'.) Police have now conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that the bus driver couldn't have been telling the truth. According to the Dayton Daily News: Police ballistics tests showed that bullets fired from the handgun - a 25-caliber Raven model semiautomatic…

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014.   Comments (3)

Van Gogh’s ear on display

The ZKM Media Museum in Karlsruhe, Germany has been displaying a living replica of Van Gogh's ear. It was created by artist Diemut Strebe, working together with scientists at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. Strebe took cells from one of Van Gogh's descendants and grew them into an ear replica, using a 3-D printer to create the shape. [wsj.com] This recalls Hugh Troy's prank from 1935 in which he molded some dried beef into the shape of an ear, mounted it in a velvet-lined box, and surreptitiously put it up on display in the Museum of Modern Art during an exhibition of Van…

Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014.   Comments (2)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 7

July 7, 1948: Crash of Tomato Man
During the late 1970s, a photo began to circulate within the UFO community that purported to show the remains of a large-headed alien whose craft had supposedly crashed near Laredo, Texas on July 7, 1948. The photo was offered as proof that alien crafts have crashed on Earth. The "alien" figure began to be referred to as "Tomato Man" because of its large, round head. But investigation revealed that the crash scene contained objects that were definitely man-made, suggesting that the photo actually shows the crash of a small plane that occurred more recently than 1948. [ufoevidence.org]
Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 6

July 6, 1915: Birth of Elizabeth Durack
Elizabeth Durack was an acclaimed western Australian artist. But controversy erupted in 1997 when Durack revealed that she was also Eddie Burrup, an Aboriginal artist. Works by Burrup had appeared in a number of exhibitions of Aboriginal art, which angered many since Durack (aka Burrup) was in no way Aboriginal. However, Durack remained unrepentant since she considered Burrup to be a legitimate alter ego. [wikipedia]
Posted: Sun Jul 06, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 5

July 5, 1810: P.T. Barnum's Birthday
Happy Birthday, P.T. Barnum! Barnum became one of the most famous men in 19th century America thanks to his realization that "people like to be humbugged" — as long as the humbug provided some entertainment value. So he freely used humbugs to promote his New York museum. His most famous deception was probably the Feejee Mermaid hoax of 1842 in which he lured huge crowds to his museum with ads that showed a beautiful, bare-breasted creature. But what people found on exhibit inside was a small, wizened creature, that was actually the head of an ape stitched onto the body of a fish. More…
Posted: Sat Jul 05, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 4

July 4, 1879: The Taughannock Giant
Residents of the town of Trumansburg, in upstate New York, came out to see a giant "Stone Man" that had recently been discovered buried near Taughannock Falls. But the excitement only lasted a few days, since it soon became known that the figure wasn't a petrified prehistoric man, as originally thought, but rather a fake created by local hotel owner John Thompson to drum up publicity for his business. [Taughannock Stone Man]
Posted: Fri Jul 04, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 3

July 3, 1931: Death of Harry Reichenbach
Harry Reichenbach was a press agent for the movie industry, known for staging outrageous stunts and hoaxes for the sake of publicity. He was best known for the "September Morn" hoax of 1913 in which he pretended to complain about the indecency of a painting, thereby bringing it to public attention and leading to the sale of millions of copies of it. Ironically, it is now clear that although Reichenbach took credit for the painting's popularity, he could have played no role in its promotion, which reveals that ultimately he was best at promoting himself.
Posted: Thu Jul 03, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 2

July 2, 1874: Solar Armor
An article that ran in Nevada's Territorial Enterprise newspaper described the case of a man who had invented "solar armor." The armor counteracted the heat of the sun, cooling the wearer more the hotter it grew outside, but his invention worked so well that it caused him to freeze to death in the middle of the Nevada desert during the Summer. Summaries of this curious case soon appeared as fact in papers throughout America and Europe. In reality, the story was the satirical creation of humorist Dan De Quille. More…
Posted: Wed Jul 02, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 1

July 1, 1959: Watch Found in Shark Hoax
Boat captain Joe St. Denis admitted that the story he had told about finding a wristwatch in a shark's stomach was a hoax. St. Denis caught the 12-foot, 750-lb shark off Catalina Island and then gave the watch (supposedly taken from its belly) to the Sheriff's office who attempted to find out if it belonged to any missing persons. Eventually St. Denis conceded that his entire tale was a "big fat happy hoax." The watch was an old one he had smashed up and dipped in acid. His motive for inventing the story was that he "wanted in the news."
Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 30

June 30, 2005: Save Toby
A case of bunny blackmail. The owner of the website SaveToby.com claimed that unless he received $50,000 by June 30, 2005, he was going to cook and eat a rabbit named Toby. It was a hollow threat. The deadline passed and was extended multiple times. Nevertheless, animal lovers were outraged. Toby's owner then secured a book deal, resulting in a new threat — that unless 100,000 books were sold, Toby would be eaten. It's doubtful this goal was ever reached. Nevertheless, Toby was eventually issued a formal reprieve.
Posted: Mon Jun 30, 2014.   Comments (0)

This Day in the History of Hoaxes: June 29

June 29, 1988: The first Lizard Man sighting
A 17-year-old driving home from work at 2 AM in Lee County, South Carolina reportedly encountered a green reptilian humanoid with glowing red eyes. Within a month, several other people had reported seeing a similar creature, leading to a wave of "Lizard Man" mania. Tourists came hoping to see the creature, and a radio station offered a $1 million reward for his capture. Lizard Man remains at large. [wikipedia]
Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2014.   Comments (0)

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