The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
  • Sam Neill tweets that he's still alive, despite some rumors to the contrary. [twitter]
  • RFID Chips In Ebola Vaccine? A hoax article from a fake news site circulates this claim. [neonnettle]
  • Poet Kevin Young lectured yesterday at Princeton on “How to Write a Hoax Poem.” Lecture blurb posed the question, "Is there such a thing as fake poetry? If so, how does one write it?" [princeton.edu]
  • The Top Five Casino Myths (such as oxygen being pumped into the casino, and slot machines near the door paying out more) [westsidestory]
  • More scary clowns. An orange-haired clown has been roaming the streets of Portsmouth, creeping people out. [telegraph]
Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2014 Comments (0)

Two guys (Sacha and Cedrique) from a Dutch show called LifeHunters visited a food convention in Houten where they offered the "food experts" in attendance samples of what they said was a "new organic alternative to fast food." In reality, they served bite-sized pieces of McDonalds food. The result: the attendees were not only impressed by what they tasted, but also a number of them said that it tasted much better than McDonalds fast food. One commented that, "you can just tell this is a lot more pure." Sacha and Cedrique concluded that, "if you tell people that something is organic, they'll automatically believe it's…
Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2014 Comments (0)

  • Banksy has not been arrested, nor has his identity been revealed [independent.co.uk]
  • "Rapper Claims He Signed To Def Jam Records, Posts Hilariously Fake Contract on Instagram" [complex.com]
  • Australia’s greatest hoaxes: the pranks the tricked a nation [Herald Sun]
  • Another food contamination hoax? Man claims to find mouse in his McDonalds coffee. [kboi2.com]
  • 20-year-old Spanish conman Francisco Nicolás Gomez Iglesias "without any official position in public life managed to hobnob with leading politicians and business figures, even attempting to negotiate in legal matters on behalf of Spain’s former King Juan Carlos." [thelocal.es]
  • The Irish Water authority has been criticized for installing a water meter at an abandoned "fake" house. [Irish Examiner]
  • "5 Vintage Urban Legends And Myths That Still Creep Us Out" [Huff Post]
  • Kindergarten student left in tears after a birthmark on her neck was photoshopped out of her school pictures without permission. [Barrier Daily Truth]
  • Everyone in what looks like a group photo on Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign website is photoshopped [Buzzfeed]
Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 Comments (0)

  • This guy fooled millions of chemtrail conspiracy theorists, now they want his head. [deadstate.org]
  • "GIVE ME FISH, NOT FEDERALISM" Outer Baldonia and Performances of Micronationality. (PDF article). [Shima Journal]
  • From the political fakery file. The Asian Republican Coalition Is Mostly White and Mostly Endorses White Candidates. (Which makes it a lot like the African-American Republican Leadership Council, exposed in 2003 as being mostly a bunch of white guys.) [motherjones.com]
  • Crop-circle researcher Megan Heazlewood concedes there have been many hoax crop circles, but insists that "there have also been ones that are very much real, and have been scientifically proven." [dailytelegraph.com.au]
  • Pseudo-ostension in Bakersfield, CA. A teen dressed as a clown was recently arrested there for chasing children. The teen told police he was merely "continuing a hoax he saw online." [kfgo.com]
  • From 2013: the persistent rumor that Canada's new plastic money was impregnated with the scent of maple syrup. [cbc.ca]
  • Iowa City pot business posters and website are a hoax [press-citizen.com]. The fake website is iowamarijuanacompany.com.
  • Two people in Africa died after believing a false rumor that drinking or bathing in salt water could prevent Ebola. [business2community.com]
  • A two-and-a-half year old story about a man with a chainsaw threatening pub goers is recycled by one of those fake news sites as "Man walks in to haunted house with chainsaw, murders 7 people." Recycled story promptly goes viral. [Intl. Bus. Times]
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 Comments (0)


A photo of what appears to be a gigantic crab lurking in the waters of Whitstable harbour in Kent recently went viral, after first appearing on the Weird Whitstable website. Quinton Winter, who runs Weird Whitstable, asks, "Does this satellite photo of the harbour reveal a giant crab or unusual sand formation?" Unfortunately, the answer is neither. The correct response is that it's photo fakery. The original satellite image of the harbour, minus the crab, can be found on Bing…
Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 Comments (0)

The mystery of the Chicago River hippo has been solved. The hippo first came to the public's attention on September 15, when a video of it swimming in the Chicago River was posted to YouTube by "Chris O" (who had never posted anything to YouTube before). Two weeks later, this was followed by a second hippo video, now uploaded by "Matt ZB80." Again, it was Matt's first and only video. Pretty much everyone was skeptical of the idea that there really was a hippo loose in the Chicago River. The police noted that there were…
Posted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 Comments (0)

  • Is this a picture of the Grey Lady Ghost of Dudley Castle? [Birmingham Mail]
  • Sondra Arquiett had agreed to help with a drug investigation as part of a sentencing deal, but didn't realize this help would include the DEA's use of her pictures to create a fake Facebook page. Now she's suing them. [BBC News]
  • Reports of an armed clown chasing students at Golden Valley High School are a hoax, says the principal. [Bakersfield Californian]
  • David LaVera's particular con is that he claims he was an actor in the Twilight movies. [KCCI]
  • Two teenage girls from Utah now admit that their story about being kidnapped back in September was a hoax. [Fox13now.com]
  • A fake blog about a blond child bride has become the most visited blog in Norway. [Smithsonian]
  • New York City is sending fake Ebola patients to emergency rooms to test hospital readiness. [CBS New York]
  • The contention of a $2 billion lawsuit filed recently in Chicago is that Aunt Jemima was a real person, and that Quaker Oats owes her descendants money. [takepart.com]
  • Montana authorities say they're not going to prosecute Toby Bridges (who's known as an "anti-wolf extremist") with running down two wolves, because they can't find any evidence that he did, despite his claims on Facebook to have done so. [Montana Standard]
  • The Twitter Death Machine. [USA Today]
Posted: Thu Oct 09, 2014 Comments (0)

A recent article by Barry Smith in the Elko Daily Free Press delves into the tall tales and hoaxes that were the hallmark of Nevada journalism in the late 19th century. Mark Twain is the best known of these Nevada journalist hoaxers. But another master of the art form was Sam Davis, creator of the apocryphal Wabuska Mangler, as well as inventor of a horse-raising horse cart. Smith explains: You may have passed through Wabuska on your way from Weeks to Weed Heights without realizing this tiny hamlet once had a feisty newspaper called the Mangler. Well, it didn’t. The Wabuska Mangler was entirely made up by Sam Davis,…
Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 Comments (0)

On September 30, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of the latest version of its operating system, Windows 10. The strange thing is that there was no Windows 9. They went straight from version 8 to 10. It's been noted that this makes real an April Fool's Day hoax published by InfoWorld in 2013, which claimed that "Microsoft skips 'too good' Windows 9, jumps to Windows 10." Microsoft hasn't explained why they really did decide to skip version 9.
Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 Comments (0)

After gardeners trimmed the old branches off a tree in the village of Burmakino in central Russia's Kirov Oblast last month, people noticed a pattern in the wood grain of one of the cut branches that looked like the face of Jesus. And other cut branches displayed what looked like the faces of his disciples. Now large crowds of people have begun gathering in front of the tree to pray and give thanks. [Daily Mail]
Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 Comments (0)

  • A viral picture apparently showing a Liberian Ebola victim who had 'risen from the dead' is actually a screenshot from the film World War Z. [mirror.co.uk]
  • Amy Argetsinger argues that it's time to bury the idea that Andy Kaufman faked his own death [washington post]
  • Craig Silverman offers an in-depth analysis of that pumpkin spice condom hoax from a few weeks back [digg.com]
  • The Great Exhibition Toilet Myths (such as that "the public toilet was invented by the plumber George Jennings, for the Great Exhibition of 1851") [Yale Books Blog]
  • News article from 1909 claimed that a pen made from the headboard of EA Poe's coffin kept writing the word "Lenore" backwards [Haunted Ohio]
Posted: Wed Oct 08, 2014 Comments (0)

I added an article about the Plainfield Teachers hoax from 1941 to the archive. This is considered a classic sports hoax, in which a stockbroker, Morris Newburger, discovered that he was able to get football scores for a fake college team reported in major papers, including the New York Times, simply by calling the sports desks of the papers and reporting the score. The papers only realized what was going on when someone who knew Newburger phoned in a tip, ratting him out.
Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014

Seven days ago (on Sep 30) a photo of "terrified cheerleaders" was uploaded to reddit, where it was presented as material for a "photoshop battle," in which the challenge is to creatively alter the original image. A redditor named "totalitarian_jesus" submitted an entry titled "where will you be when diarrhea strikes?" in which he made the cheerleader appear to be losing control of her bowels in mid-air, provoking expressions of horror from her teammates below. This quickly became the most highly voted entry, and it immediately inspired a prediction that the altered image would "definitely end up on a Facebook post accompanied by an 'omg I can't believe it,…
Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 Comments (2)

As part of his ongoing "Fantastically Wrong" series at Wired.com, Matt Simon investigates the ancient legend that beavers will chew off their own testicles when pursued and throw them back at their pursuer, in this way making their escape. The legend was mentioned in Aesop's Fables and popped up in various works of natural history, until it was debunked in the 17th century by Sir Thomas Browne who pointed out that the testes of beavers don't hang outside their body. They're internal. So it would be difficult to chew them off, even if the beaver wanted to.
Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 Comments (1)

An article headlined "Large snowstorm could slam N.J. next week" recently went viral on Facebook, gaining thousands of shares and causing many people to express concern. The post linked to an article on the site of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which was a legitimate article. But it had been written 18 months ago in March 2013. When the Star Ledger realized that people were mistaking the article for a current weather forecast, they posted an editor's note at the top of it, pointing out that it was an old article. But this made no difference, because people on Facebook were generally only looking at the headline and sharing that.
Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 Comments (0)

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