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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Every few years I decide the site needs a makeover. And recently I felt that feeling growing within me, so that's what I've been doing for the past few days. The primary change has been to provide only summaries of the blog posts on the front page, rather than the posts in their entirety. This makes it easier to see what's been posted recently. I decided this was the way to go after realizing that a lot of visitors to the site would look only at the top post and miss all the posts below it. I also centered the entire site in the browser window, rather than having it hug…
Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 Comments (6)

This e-junkie author complains that April Fool's Day marketing has gotten out of hand. There definitely was a huge amount of it this year. But I don't see the trend going away anytime soon, since marketers aren't exactly known for restraint. And to be honest, I'm not really bothered by it like this author is. Perhaps I'm just easily amused, but I kind of enjoy looking through all the weird stuff advertisers come up with every April 1. Though it is true that the advertisers don't make much of an effort to actually fool anyone. They're primarily aiming for being funny/cute/quirky.
Posted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 Comments (1)

Manchester artist John Hyatt took some photographs of the landscape around Rossendale in Lancashire. But when he later enlarged those he images he noticed they showed tiny winged creatures that looked like fairies. Hyatt told the Manchester Evening News: "It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take. "I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don't look the same. "People can decide for themselves what they are. "The message to people is to approach them with an open mind. "I think it's one of…
Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 Comments (14)

NPR succeeded in pulling off one of the most successful April 1 pranks this year, in terms of number of people fooled. It posted the article below to Facebook that asked in the headline, "Why Doesn't America Read Anymore?" The provocative question quickly generated hundreds of responses. Some people bemoaned falling standards of education. Others disagreed with the premise, insisting that people do read nowadays. But what all the responses shared in common was that the people who posted them apparently hadn't bothered to click through and READ THE ARTICLE ITSELF! If they had, they would…
Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 Comments (2)


Found in Mermaids with Other Tales (1882) by Charles Henry Ross : a discussion of broiled mermaids. Apparently they taste like pork, which isn't surprising since (so it's said) human flesh tastes like pork also. But I wonder what wine pairs best with mermaid? BROILED MERMAID In the "Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences," John Jablousky says the skin of meer men and mermaids is of a brownish-grey colour, and their intestines are like those of a hog; their flesh as fat as pork, particularly the upper part of their bodies; and this is a favourite dish with the Indians, broiled upon a…
Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 Comments (0)

Seen circulating online with the caption "Just some friendly Australian wildlife". Of course, emus don't have teeth like that. Looks like someone added a row of shark's teeth to the bird. I believe the original image (below) comes from wikimedia commons.
Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 Comments (3)

The Yankee Rubber Baby was, as the name suggests, an American-made rubber baby doll. Advertisements for it appeared in many newspapers and magazines throughout the 1880s. The ads claimed the device could simulate the sound of a baby screaming or cooing happily. I'm not sure how it would have done that. Though I'm guessing there must have been some kind of air bladder that you squeezed to make a noise. But the sound certainly doesn't seem to have been as lifelike as the ads suggested. From a review in Punch (Apr 23, 1881) The Rubber Baby makes a horrid squeaky noise, is easily blown out, and then goes pop,…
Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 Comments (0)

April 1, 1937 — The Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung ran a story about Siamese twins joined by their beard. The story noted: "The brothers have solved all the problems of life joined together by means of their exemplary camaraderie. It is interesting that the phenomenon only manifested itself when the twins reached the age of 14."
Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 Comments (0)

It seems like the site's server isn't crashing, as it usually does on April 1! So that's good news. I've been posting a bunch of today's April Fools over at the Hoax Museum Facebook page, since it's easier to post stuff quickly over there. I'll add the best to the April Fool Archive later.
Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 Comments (0)

The New York Times does not participate in the custom of April Fool's Day. It's the paper that only publishes "news that's fit to print," and April fool absurdities don't make the cut. Except for one time that maybe it did publish an April fool story. It was way back on April 1, 1906 when the following story appeared on the front page of the Times. It's an odd story. It's not really laugh-out-loud funny. But anyone familiar with the climate around the Salton Sea would immediately realize that the idea that it had frozen solid was absurd. And ice skating on the Salton Sea? Never happened.
Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 Comments (0)

With April Fool's Day fast approaching, I've been working on the April Fool Archive, trying to add supplementary material, etc. In the course of which, I realized that I didn't have much information about the early history of April Fool's Day in Germany. Specifically, what is the earliest German reference to April Fool's Day? Knowing this would give us an idea of how long the Germans have been celebrating April first. That question was harder to answer than I had anticipated. The Diet of Augsburg, 1530There's a German origin story about April Fool's Day that alleges the celebration started on account of a meeting of the Reichstag in Augsburg in 1530.…
Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 Comments (1)

St. John's College in Cambridge is inviting the public to view a famous artifact from the history of hoaxes — a first-edition of The History of Formosa written by George Psalmanazar. [link: Belfast Telegraph] Back in the early 18th century, Psalmanazar posed as a native of Taiwan and had many of Britain's educated elites believing the ruse, even as he invented bizarre stories about the customs of Taiwan. If there was a real Museum of Hoaxes, this would be a great artifact to have on display. But it also shows the difficulty of ever having such a museum, because it turns out these artifacts are incredibly expensive, making…
Posted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 Comments (2)

Several weeks ago, some wine-industry veterans (Kevin Boyer and Philip James) announced the invention of a gadget that would allow people to make wine at home in only 3 days. They called it the "miracle machine." The gadget seemed somewhat plausible, given the existence of home-brewing kits for beer. Plus it was promoted by a slick video and accompanying website. So over 600 media outlets took the bait and reported it as news. But yesterday, the "inventors" issued a press release revealing that the 'miracle machine' was just a hoax. But it was a hoax for a…
Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 Comments (0)

Would you like a small 12 oz beer for $4, or a large 12 oz one for $7? Your pick! It reminds me of that old Dunkin' Donuts offer: "Free 3 muffins when you buy 3 at the regular half-dozen price!" Except in the beer case, people were (allegedly) paying more for nothing but a different cup design. Hockey Fans Suing Arena Over Misleading Beer Prices By REBECCA BOONE Associated Press A handful of Idaho hockey fans sued a Boise arena on Tuesday, saying they were duped into thinking a $7 beer contains more brew than a $4 beer. The lawsuit says CenturyLink Arena, home of the Idaho Steelheads…
Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 Comments (0)

Director Tatia Pilieva recently released a video showing 20 strangers who were paired up and then asked to kiss each other. The video quickly went viral, with currently over 37 millions views on YouTube. But now the video is being outed as a kind of hoax because while it is true that the people were all strangers to each other, they were also professional performers. And the whole video was an ad for clothes, paid for by Wren Studio which is promoting its "Fall 14 collection". Amanda Hess writes for Slate: The video peddles the fantasy that beauty can spring from an…
Posted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 Comments (0)

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