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

The 'kidney thieves' urban legend has resurfaced in Nigeria, as evidenced by the story below which is circulating on Nigerian news sites (such as here and here). This version of the tale has a slight twist. After having his kidney removed, the victim doesn't realize what's happened until weeks later. He doesn't even realize he's been cut open, because the closure of the incision was "perfectly done and skin was used to cover up the stitch." Pathetic Story Of A Nigerian Whose Kidney Was Stolen In Malaysia [MUST READ] We saw this story and we thought it wise to share it. It's touching and shocking and we…
Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 Comments (0)

To almost nobody's surprise, that crop circle near Salinas has been revealed to be a marketing stunt. It was created in order to promote a new mobile processor by NVIDIA. The CEO of NVIDIA admitted to the stunt during a presentation in Las Vegas. There were some clues. Small dots inside the circle spelled out the number 192, in braille. Also, three large dots on the outer perimeter of the circle were positioned at the clock-hand positions of 1, 9, and 2. The number 192 was a reference to the number of cores in the company's new processor. This isn't the first time a company has…
Posted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 Comments (0)

A new scam targeting the elderly in Italy. Well-dressed young women knock on the door and identify themselves as health department officials. They tell the elderly resident that banknotes have been contaminated with a deadly virus. They ask, "Do you have any banknotes in the house? If so, give them to us, and we will decontaminate them." One elderly woman handed the scammers over $2300. [ninemsn.com.au]
Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 Comments (0)

Dan's Papers, which serves the Hamptons in New York, recently reported that lions were going to be released in order to cull the growing deer population in the region. The lions would be supplied, free of charge, by a wealthy South African industrialist who had recently bought a home there. The report disturbed some of the locals. According to southampton.patch.com: "[The police] fielded anywhere between 10 and 15 calls from residents voicing their anger at the 'news,' and at least one caller claimed to have seen a lion stalking her back yard." The report was actually the latest effort from Dan Rattiner, the "hoaxer of the…
Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 Comments (2)

According to legend, the sport of haggis hurling originated in the seventeenth century when the women of Auchnaclory tossed meals of haggis across the River Dromach for their husbands, who would catch it in their kilts. However, the sport eventually lapsed into obscurity. A well-formed haggis. [Source: Euan (Flickr)} But in 1977, at the International Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh, haggis hurling was brought back as a featured event. The sport was given formalized rules. Competitors had to rub peat on their hands and hurl the haggis while standing on top of a half-barrel of Scotch whisky. The competition was overseen by three officials:…
Posted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 Comments (1)

Why do people go to the Florida Keys to fake their death? Because of the water: "all the water — the ocean, the channels, the bay — all plausible places for a body never to be found." Florida Keys have been a place for many to stage their own deaths from The Miami Herald Some people come to the Florida Keys to dive the coral reefs or fish for tarpon. Others come to party in Key West. And then there are a desperate few who come to the subtropical island chain for a more sinister activity: faking their own deaths. "We've had so many over the years," Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay…
Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 Comments (0)

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