The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
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)

Recently seen circulating on Twitter with the caption, "Heart glare reflection on the shores of Hawaii". The picture was taken in Hawaii. That's true. Waikiki beach, to be specific. But the 'heart glare reflection' isn't real. The photo is a manipulation created by DeviantArt user 'charmbuster' back in April 2008. He wrote: "an experiment... this is a slight photomanip, the shape was so close i had to make it a heart! (waikiki beach)" It's been floating around the Internet ever since 2008. Sometimes it's titled 'sea heart' or 'beach heart'. (via PicPedant)
Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 Comments (0)

In September 1934, Louis Nasch, a department store painter living in St. Paul, Minnesota, alerted the press to the fact that his wife, Martha, hadn't had anything to eat or drink in the last seven years. She hadn't slept either. And yet she was perfectly healthy. Louis explained that he decided to go public with this information because "I do not want people to think I am starving my wife." Louis and Martha Nasch Upon being questioned by the press, Martha insisted it was true, though she conceded that she realized "the world will not believe me." To back up her claim, her husband, their 12-year-old…
Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 Comments (11)

Italian social media is all abuzz with the news that the European Commission is offering to pay any EU family 1500 euro a month to host a political refugee from Ukraine — but particularly to host young Ukrainian women "who have always been discriminated against for trivial reasons." In response, many men are taking to Twitter/Facebook and are selflessly offering to host a young Ukrainian woman without receiving any compensation at all! Unfortunately the offer isn't real. The story comes from an Italian fake news site: Giornale del Corriere. [via blog sicilia]
Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 Comments (0)

In 1966, Dean Martin contributed a burger recipe to The Celebrity Cookbook, which was a collection of recipes by celebrities put together by Dinah Shore. Martin's simple recipe was as follows: MARTIN BURGERS 1 lb. ground beef 2 oz. bourbon---chilled Preheat a heavy frying pan and sprinkle bottom lightly with table salt. Mix meat, handling lightly, just enough to form into four patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4 minutes on each side. Pour chilled bourbon in chilled shot glass and serve meat and bourbon on a TV tray. In 2010, Martin's burger recipe, scanned from The Celebrity Cookbook, appeared online and quickly went viral. I…
Posted: Thu Mar 06, 2014 Comments (0)

The above photo has recently been circulating on social media purporting to show a "snow snake". A caption provides this warning: This is the deadly snow snake. It has bitten 3 people in the state of Ohio and one in Pennsylvania. It’s been spotted in other states. It comes out in the cold weather and at this time there is no cure for it's bite. One bite and your blood starts to freeze. Scientist are trying to find a cure. Your body temperature start to fall once bitten. Please stay clear if you have see it. Please forward this and try to save as many people as we can from this deadly snow snake.…
Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 Comments (0)

On March 3 a video appeared online (with an accompanying website) announcing that a company had created an actual working hoverboard (aka HUVr Board), of the kind seen in the 1989 movie Back to the Future II, using antigravity technology. The video immediately went viral, with over 3 million views already on YouTube. As many have noted, the video is clearly fake. No one has created a working hoverboard. But it was an impressive fake. Especially noteworthy is the number of celebrities appearing in the video — including Christopher Lloyd, Moby, Tony Hawk, Terrel Owens, etc. Which raises the…
Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 Comments (0)

On April 1, 2013, Internet commerce site Firebox.com released a new product — the 70s Hairy Chest Sweater. From the product description: What makes lumberjacks, 70s television stars and the giant Brown Bears of Alaska so irresistibly attractive to others? Simple. Their long, luxuriant chest hair. Sadly, the recent 'man-scaping' trend has led to an epidemic of people pedantically plucking their pecs. Oh, the humanity. Thankfully, we’ve found a solution (while you wait for your rug to regenerate). The 70s Hairy Chest Sweater. This 100% polyester sweater is almost guaranteed to increase your masculinity, virility and ability to chop wood. Pull it on to…
Posted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 Comments (0)

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