Hoaxes of 2014
Word is that a new film about P.T. Barnum is in the works. It'll be a musical, titled "The Greatest Showman on Earth," starring Hugh Jackman as Barnum. Kathy Maher, curator of the P.T. Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, told the Hartford Courant that the film company contacted her four years ago when the project first started, but she hasn't heard anything from them since. She adds, "they said they would be on touch as soon as the project got on the grid... Hopefully they'll get the story right and not go for the mythology." Hmmm. What are the odds of that happening?
In the summer of 1925, the carcass of a large ocean creature washed up onto Moore's Beach in the California town of Santa Cruz. The creature had a strange duck-like head and what looked like a long neck. Interest in the carcass grew when it was examined on the beach by one E.L. Wallace, who described himself as the president of the Natural History Society of British Columbia, and he declared that it was the remains of a plesiosaur — a species long extinct. more…
Artist Jonty Hurwitz has created "nano sculptures" so small that they can't be seen with the eye. You need a scanning electron microscope to view them. So how do you know the sculptures really exist and that he's not just showing you an image on a screen? You don't. That's why he's titled his works "Trust." In that sense, it's kinda like the old Brazilian Invisible Fish gag. [mnn.com]
A pair of videos that seemed to show a giant "human sized eel" in New Zealand's Manawatu River went viral in the past week. It caught the attention of a viral video show, Right This Minute, who contacted the two young men (brothers Tim and Ray Hamilton) who filmed the footage and asked them for the right to air it on TV. At which point, Tim and Ray confessed that the footage was fake. They had filmed the eel in a bathtub and then composited that footage with shots of the river and Ray throwing bread at the imaginary eel.
Redditor "famousmess" posted an image to the pareidolia subreddit, showing a gum mark he saw on the floor of the subway that looks like Edgar Allan Poe. What subway, I don't know. He concedes it's possible that it might be stencil art. However, he notes that, "it's real small and the same general size of the other gums... I know some street artists and showed them, consensus is gum but who knows. It would be a silly spot and size to get noticed."
People in the small town of Mammoth, Arizona were puzzled when, earlier this week, they started to receive calls asking about the outbreak of a deadly, infectious disease — a disease that supposedly caused hemorrhagic bleeding and violent behavior. Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary was happening in Mammoth, so why all the calls? It turns out the calls were inspired by a fictional story titled "WTF is going on in Pinal county, Arizona??" posted on the reddit community "No Sleep." The 'No Sleep' subreddit is a place where people share fictional horror stories and then post…
I recently completed a major update and revision of the Hoax Photo Test. It now has 50 photos to challenge your photo-fakery detection skills. And it includes an old-time photo fakery level, featuring photos from before the time of Photoshop. So give it a try!
A fake news report recently circulated on social media alleging that former child star Macaulay Culkin, of Home Alone fame, had been found dead in his Manhattan apartment. Cause of death was not described. The fake report originated from the spoof website msnbc.website, which is unaffiliated with the MSNBC news network.
Tampax, maker of feminine hygiene products, has an article on its website in which it claims that, "The ancient Egyptians fashioned disposable tampons from softened papyrus. The Greek physician Hippocrates, writing in the fifth century B.C., described another type of tampon, which was made of lint wrapped around lightweight wood." Helen King, in an article posted at Wonders and Marvels, notes that this idea of a 'Hippocratic tampon' has been repeated uncritically by many other sites. But was it true? Did women in ancient Greece actually use tampons? No, she argues, they didn't. King…
Last night, Balloon Boy: The Musical had its opening-night performance at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado. The musical was written by Billy Reece, who's only 16. He told the LA Times that it's "a comedy that is neither for nor against the Heenes, but a commentary on a celebrity-obsessed society." Richard Heene, father of Balloon Boy, has not, to my knowledge, commented on the new musical. It got me thinking about how many other hoaxes have been made into musicals or plays. Here's the list of all the ones that I can think of (though I'm sure there must be more):
There's a bit of a mystery on Reddit. Redditor "tcatron565" claims to have come across a post on Facebook from someone trying to sell 3000 tarantulas because their owner "is away" and the spiders are starving. These tarantulas need to find a home fast! Definitely an unusual situation, but is it for real? Impossible to say since there's no contact info, and tcatron565 hasn't offered any more details. But just in case it's not a hoax, the moderator of the spiders subreddit has offered to go to "great lengths" to find a home for the tarantulas. [via Daily Dot]
At Web Summit in Dublin, two social-media strategists started pitching a new startup called VelloBook, which they described as the "world's first ad-only social media network. Giving people the power to share ads." They also created a Twitter feed, @VelloBook. But after they started getting a lot of requests for meetings, they realized that they needed to make it clearer that this was a "fake startup" — a joke! I predict that it's a joke that will one day soon become reality. [independent.ie]
Election results in Adams County, Colo. have been delayed because of an all write-in race for the county surveyor post, which means every ballot has to be read by a human. They're already reporting a large number of write-in votes for Mickey Mouse and Brad Pitt. [Denver Channel]
If I were to make a list of the Worst Nessie Sightings Ever, Jonathan Bright's Nessie photo would have to be near the top of the list. To me it looks like a wave. Plain and simple. And yet he's managed to successfully promote this thing (and himself). He was a featured speaker at Scotland's first Paranormal Festival where he discussed the photo, and most recently his Wave-Nessie was the subject of a write-up in the Daily Mail. Bright took the photo on Nov 2, 2011 while taking a cruise of Loch Ness. That happens to be the same day that the skipper George Edwards [edit: claimed he]…
The latest fake news story to be mistaken for reality comes from clickhole.com. It claims that Beanie Babies made in the 90s were actually filled with thousands of spider eggs, and that those eggs are now beginning to hatch "bursting through the seams of Beanies everywhere." Syracuse.com reports that the fake story has been shared on Facebook over 58,000 times. Unlike most fake news stories, which aren't funny at all, I can actually see an element of humor in this one.