The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Theodore Roosevelt served as President of the United States for 8 years, from 1901-1909. He was, as Wikipedia notes, acclaimed for his "cowboy persona and robust masculinity." However, his masculinity was not so robust that he once rode a moose, despite what this photo appears to show. In 1912, Roosevelt split from the Republican Party, after having become unhappy with its increasingly conservative policies. He then ran for President as head of the newly formed Progressive Party. After forming this party, Roosevelt exuberantly proclaimed, "I'm feeling like a bull moose!" For which reason, the Progressive Party was often referred to as the "Bull Moose Party." Two months before the…
Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 Comments (3)

Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 Comments (0)

[via reddit]
Posted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 Comments (0)

Well, I fell for this. A recent article posted on the Daily Mail was headlined, "China starts televising the sunrise on giant TV screens because Beijing is so clouded in smog." An accompanying photo showed a giant TV screen in a smoggy Tiananmen Square showing a sunrise. The article elaborated: The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city’s natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises. The futuristic screens installed in the Chinese capital usually advertize tourist destinations, but as the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous…
Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 Comments (0)


Henry Clay Hooker (source: wikipedia) Henry Clay Hooker was a wealthy rancher in the Old West. He was known as the "cattle king of Arizona." Modern audiences may know him because he was played by Charlton Heston in the 1993 movie Tombstone. Perhaps the most famous part of Hooker's life story is the claim that he made his fortune by herding 500 turkeys over the Sierra Nevada mountain range into Nevada. The story goes that Hooker moved out to California from the East Coast as a young man. He opened a hardware store in Placerville, and was growing quite successful until tragedy struck in 1866 when his…
Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 Comments (2)

This photo of "Hercules, the World's Biggest Dog" is one of the best known "hoax" viral images on the Web. It started circulating in early 2007, initially on its own, but soon the Internet had supplied an explanatory caption: Hercules: The World's Biggest Dog Ever According to Guinness World Records Hercules was recently awarded the honorable distinction of Worlds Biggest Dog by Guinness World Records. Hercules is an English Mastiff and has a 38 inch neck and weighs 282 pounds. With "paws the size of softballs" (reports the Boston Herald), the three-year-old monster is far larger and heavier than his breed's standard 200lb. limit. Hercules owner Mr. Flynn says that Hercules weight…
Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 Comments (2)

The Ocean County Health Department of New Jersey recently began receiving numerous phone calls and emails from people worried about the health risk posed by squirrels with AIDS. Many parents asked whether they should allow their children to play outside. In response, the health department has posted a statement assuring the public that there is no such thing as 'Squirrel AIDS' or 'SQUAIDS'. Nor have there been any confirmed cases of illness transmitted to a human from a squirrel. No cases of squirrel-to-human disease transmission? I immediately thought, 'What about rabies?' But some googling reveals that although squirrels can theoretically contract rabies, it's very rare for them to do…
Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 Comments (0)

Max Fisher of the Washington Post tells how Iran's Fars News Agency (which is often described as a "semi-official" news agency with ties to the government) recently revealed the shocking news that "The United States government has been secretly run by a 'shadow government' of space aliens since 1945." It seems that these aliens initially supported the Nazis, but switched to Team USA after that didn't work out. This information, says Fars, comes from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 Comments (0)

Idiotic things people will believe: The Bedfordshire Police recently posted a statement on their website, informing everyone that calling 999 and then disconnecting immediately will not actually boost the battery life of your mobile phone battery, despite a rumor to the contrary. Apparently emergency operators have been receiving a lot of these phone-charging calls. There's a similar rumor that claims you can recharge your mobile phone by putting it in a microwave for a minute. Also not true. Don’t Ring 999 to Charge Your Mobile – It Doesn’t Work! Bedfordshire Police would like to warn mobile phone users not to phone 999 to charge their mobiles. It is known that…
Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 Comments (2)

A news story has been circulating recently about a west African preacher, Franck Kabele, who drowned while trying to show his congregation that he could walk on water just like Jesus Christ. source: ReportGhanaNews.com This story is almost certainly a hoax that media outlets are repeating as real news. The Christian Post notes that this story about Franck Kabele was first reported in British papers back in August 2006. They say it first appeared in the Scottish Daily Record, but I found it printed a day earlier (Aug 29, 2006) in the London Evening Standard, as follows: Priest drowns 'walking on water' The…
Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 Comments (0)

The latest fake news article masquerading as authentic report involves a giant squid — grown to mutant size because of Fukushima radiation — supposedly washed ashore near Santa Monica. The photo of the giant squid is circulating with hashtags such as #RadioactiveGigantism and #GiantSeaCreature. The story comes from a site called The Lightly Braised Turnip. I suppose that name is supposed to tip you off that the site is like The Onion, or aspires to be. But it's not The Onion. It's a lightly braised turnip instead. A few months ago a giant squid really did wash ashore in Spain, and the folks at…
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 Comments (0)

Huffington PostMichigan resident Anthony Padilla thinks that Bigfoot has been wandering around his property and eating his food. Specifically, his pizza. And after Bigfoot eats the pizza, he poops. Padilla has collected the scat and he wants the police to test it for DNA. The police have demurred. Padilla is apparently staking his claim to a $10 million prize being offered by Spike TV for coming up with "irrefutable proof" of the existence of Bigfoot. Actually, it's not clear to me whether Spike TV is offering the prize to anyone, or only to the group of competitors on its forthcoming "10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty" TV show. If it's the latter, Padilla…
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 Comments (2)

Sort This Out Cellars has announced the imminent return of its Cardiff Giant Wine, which it describes as "one of our most popular wines ever." I've come across quite a few hoax-themed beers (Bigfoot Ale, Nessie's Monster Mash, Jackalope Ale, etc.), but not many hoax-themed wines. I always assumed that wine marketers thought that hoaxes were too low-brow to appeal to the sophisticated tastes of wine drinkers. The illustration of the Cardiff Giant on the wine label comes from a poster created by the sideshow banner artist Fred G. Johnson in the 1930s or 40s. But I'm not sure Sort This Out Cellars realizes this, because the…
Posted: Fri Jan 10, 2014 Comments (1)

The internet seems to believe this is a "long exposure photo of a lightning bolt hitting a tree." It's not. Well, it is a long exposure shot, but not of lightning. It's a photo created by "light painter" Darren Pearson (aka Darius Twin). Wikipedia defines light painting as "a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera." Pearson light painted the blue flames at the base of the tree. He then cut-and-pasted the lightning bolt itself into the photo from a NOAA image of a lightning strike (below).
Posted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 Comments (4)

A Vodafone commercial featuring talking puppets has been the subject of some strange rumors in Egypt. The buzz is that the commercial is full of coded messages telling Islamist terrorists to bomb churches. You see, the commercial opens and closes with a shot of a four-branched cactus from which hangs a single Christmas ornament. The four branches, so the rumors suggest, represent the four-fingered salute of the Muslim brotherhood. The cactus itself represents bitterness and resistance. And the ornament is a bomb. The bulk of the commercial consists of a puppet, Mother Abla Fahita, talking on the phone to an unseen friend, whom she calls Mama Tutu. Obviously this friend…
Posted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 Comments (0)

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