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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
The Australian lyrebird has amazing powers of imitation. In his Life of Birds series, David Attenborough demonstrated that these birds can even imitate man-made sounds such as chainsaws, car alarms, and the click of a camera shutter. The clip leads viewers to believe that lyrebirds in the wild have begun to imitate man-made sounds. But this turns out not to be true. Attenborough didn't explain that the lyrebirds he showed were not typical examples of the species. Hollis Taylor, writing for theconversation.com, explains: Attenborough peers at the bird (and the camera) from behind a tree, whispering to us about the bird mimicking "sounds that he hears…
Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 Comments (2)

I think this prisoner may have been telling a bit of a tall tale. "An Exact representation of a raft, and its apparatus, as invented by the French for their proposed invasion of England — from a drawing of a prisoner who has made his escape from France" Source: Bibliotheque Nationale de France via Retronaut
Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 Comments (1)

Promoters of the Manoppello Image are hoping that it's soon going to be as popular as the Shroud of Turin. Like the Shroud, it's supposedly the actual face of Jesus miraculously imprinted onto a piece of cloth. But I see a problem with their plan. The Shroud of Turin, say what you will about it, genuinely looks mysterious and creepy. But the Manoppello Image just looks like a bad painting. U.S. Pilgrims Flock to Manoppello’s Shrine After Benedict XVI Visit National Catholic Register Pilgrims have flocked to see an image debated to be the veil of Veronica, the resurrection cloth of Christ or a centuries-old hoax...
Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 Comments (2)

Tah gave me a heads up about this 'Here There Be Monsters' shirt that was the deal-of-the-day at Shirt Woot! It reminded me that I recently came across a foldout Storyteller's Map of American Myths in the Aug 22, 1960 issue of Life magazine. It's full of strange creatures such as the Arizona Ghost Camel ("once imported by the army, wandered the desert with dead riders), Michigan Tigerfish ("lurking around Saginaw Bay ate cabin boys"), and the New Jersey Mosquito ("as large as a swallow and fierce as an eagle, was trained by the Indians to hunt. One sting could stop a deer in its tracks.")
Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 Comments (0)


Stephen Glass can't catch a break. He burned his bridges in journalism, and now the lawyers don't want him either. Stephen Glass, journalist fired for fake stories, denied law license abclocal.go.com SAN FRANCISCO (KABC) -- Disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass was denied a license to practice law in California in a state supreme court ruling on Monday. The court ruled unanimously against Glass, a magazine writer who was fired after 31 of 42 high-profile stories were determined to contain fabrications and falsehoods. Glass, 41, was fired from the The New Republic magazine in 1998 after working there for three years. After being exposed, he continued to cover up his work…
Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 Comments (2)

Matt Novak, writing for Gizmodo Australia, notes that 100 years ago a news story circulated reporting that Frank Rockwell, the mayor of Akron, Ohio, had written a letter to Akron's future mayor in 2014: Fort Wayne Sentinel - Jan 24, 1914 Mayor Rockwell wrote a letter yesterday to the person who will be mayor of Akron 100 years hence. The epistle tells the future mayor of the present debt, the names of all the city officials, the problems confronting the municipality and the political situation in Akron in 1914. The letter will be sealed, addressed to "His Honor, Mayor of Akron, 2014," marked with instructions not to be molested or…
Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 Comments (1)

The latest fake news story to go viral claims that, due to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Philip Morris has decided to start selling Marlboro Marijuana Cigarettes, marketed under the brand name "Marlboro M". The fake news story was posted on the satire site "Abril Uno" on January 21st. From the article: Phillip Morris, the world’s biggest cigarette producer, announced today that they will join the marijuana legalization bandwagon and start producing marijuana cigarettes. Marketed under the brand “Marlboro M”, the cigarettes will be made available for sale through marijuana-licensed outlets in the state of Colorado, and the state of Washington when it becomes commercially legal there later…
Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 Comments (0)

Mysterious ways of Dave Fanning hoax; 2fm DJ passes off song by obscure English band as the latest single from U2. The Sunday Times (London) January 26, 2014 DUE TO a long friendship with U2, his radio show is always the first to play any new songs from the Dublin group. Earlier this month, however, U2 fans didn't find what they were looking for when Dave Fanning, the 2fm DJ, promised to play their new single - but instead spun a track from an unknown British band... What listeners actually heard was a song entitled Bad Machine by Dark Stares, a virtually unknown band from St Albans in London...…
Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 Comments (2)

Scare stories about how governments are going to force us all to be "microchipped like dogs" have been circulating for well over a decade. Mixed in with these stories have been Christian fundamentalist claims that implanted microchips are the "Mark of the Beast". The latest scare story to surface is an article (written in broken English) recently posted on topinfopost.com, claiming that "On May 2014, through Europe newborn children will be compelled to take in a subcutaneous RFID chip." Nope. Ain't happening. The photo accompanying the article actually shows a flexible "Biostamp" recently developed by the Massachusetts-based firm MC10. But don't worry. The…
Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 Comments (2)

An Italian newspaper has reported that firefighters near Naples recently discovered a giant larva of a Red Palm Weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus). The larva, which was as big as an adult pig, was still alive, and as the firefighters approached it, the thing emitted a shrill cry similar to the whinny of a horse. The larva appears to be a result of "radioactive gigantism" caused by toxic waste in the so-called "Land of Fires" region of southern Italy. It has been taken to the Naples Museum to be studied by entomologists. At least, this is what I could understand of the story with help from Google Translate. (Any corrections/additions from…
Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 Comments (0)

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)

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