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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 25
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 25, 2014
July 25, 1990: Operation Blackbird Hoaxed
On this day, the high-tech Operation Blackbird, whose mission was to record the creation of a crop circle by a UFO, appeared to meet with success. The monitoring equipment recorded flashing orange lights in a field, and the next morning two large circles had formed. But the hopes of the researchers were dashed when they found a horoscope chart and wooden crucifix in the middle of the circles — evidently the calling card of a hoaxer. The flashing lights on their equipment, the researchers admitted, had probably been the heat signature of humans running around. More…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 24
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 24, 2014
July 24, 1907: The Old Librarian's Almanack
On this day, Edmund Leaster Pearson first mentioned the existence of the Old Librarian's Almanack in his column in the Boston Evening Transcript. It was, he said, a small almanac from 1773 that contained the "opinion and counsel" of a rather curmudgeonly librarian whose ideas were strikingly non-modern. For instance, the Old Librarian felt it was the duty of all librarians to "cast out and destroy" any book that was "merely frivolous." Pearson later arranged for the reprinting of this 18thC curiosity. Very few people realized that he himself had written it as a joke. [Internet Archive]
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Fossil Poop Controversy
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 23, 2014
I.M. Chait auctioneer will soon be taking bids on what it describes as the "longest example of coprolite [i.e. fossil poop] ever to be offered at auction." At 40 inches, it's definitely quite long. A number of sites described this as dinosaur poop, which it can't be, since it's 40 million years too young to have come from the rear end of a dinosaur. But gawker's antiviral notes that it may not be a coprolite either. The object comes from Washington's Wilkes formation, and according to Whitman College Professor of Geology Patrick K. Spencer, there's nothing that would "suggest an organic origin" for this object, or any of the…
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Fishy Research
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 23, 2014
Many media outlets (such as NPR) recently ran a feel-good story about how a sixth-grader made an important scientific discovery. The discovery was that lionfish can survive in nearly fresh water, such as that found in estuaries. This is important to know since lionfish are highly invasive. The young scientist made this discovery as part of a science-fair project on lionfish. But it now looks like there's a seamier side to this story. It turns out that this information had been discovered before, as far back as 2010, by a marine biology grad student, Zach Jud. And Jud had worked with the sixth-grader's father, who's also a marine biologist. …
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 23
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 23, 2014
July 23, 1943: The Death of Ern Malley
The unknown Australian poet Ern Malley was said to have died of Graves' disease on this day, prompting his sister to send the poems she found among his possessions to Max Harris, editor of the Angry Penguins poetry journal, who then decided to dedicate a special issue to Malley's strange poems. But upon publication, Harris discovered Malley wasn't real. He was the satirical creation of two Australian poets hostile to modern poetry. Ern Malley remains Australia's most famous literary hoax. [wikipedia]
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The ‘We only use 10% of our brains’ myth
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 22, 2014
In an article in The Atlantic, Sam McDougle traces the origin of the often repeated belief that "you only use 10 percent of your brain." He writes: "According to Sam Wang, a neuroscientist at Princeton and the author of Welcome to Your Brain, the catalyst may have been the self-help industry. In the early 1900s, William James, one of the most influential thinkers in modern psychology, famously said that humans have unused mental potential. This completely reasonable assertion was later revived, in mangled form, by the writer Lowell Thomas in his foreword to the 1936 self-help bible How To Win Friends And Influence People. “Professor William James of Harvard used to say that…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 22
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 22, 2014
July 22, 1931: Mr. A.A. declared man with shortest name
On this day, Mr. A.A. (first name Aaron) was declared to be the man with the shortest name in the United States, following the death of H.P. Re. But within a month he was revealed to be a fraud after he was charged with forgery and a judge issued a warrant for his real name, Earl Gerske. Mr. A.A. was merely an alias, Gerske explained, adopted on account of a deal with a laundry company so that "they could advertise that the phone number of their laundry was the first one listed in the directory."
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 21
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 21, 2014
July 21, 1959: Jacqueline Gay Hart Disappears
Hart, a 21-year-old heiress, disappeared from Newark airport and was the subject of a nationwide search for two days until she turned up in Chicago's Grant Park, claiming she had been abducted by two men who drove her, bound and gagged, to Chicago. But within a day she admitted her story was false, explaining that she had "sort of exploded" because of tension over her approaching wedding and had fled, wandering around New York and Chicago for two days before deciding to return.
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Fried Chicken Oreos
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 20, 2014
Fried Chicken Oreos are not a real thing. The photo of a bag of them that went viral this week was a fake. However, I don't think that the idea of Fried Chicken Oreos is inherently implausible. After all, chicken and waffles are definitely real (and very tasty). So why not have fried chicken oreos? Also, Oreos already come in many different, unusual flavors, such as cookie dough, candy corn, green tea ice cream, limeaid, orange ice cream, etc. So fried chicken flavor isn't that much of a stretch. However, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel checked with Weber Shandwick, who handle PR for Oreo cookies, and…
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 20
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jul 20, 2014
July 20, 1971: The National Review Hoax
The conservative National Review magazine released a set of documents that it claimed were secret government papers dealing with the war in Vietnam. A day later it admitted the papers were a hoax, designed as a response to the Pentagon Papers published by the New York Times the previous month. William F. Buckley, editor of the National Review, claimed his magazine's hoax demonstrated that "forged documents would be widely accepted as genuine provided their content was inherently plausible." [Lewiston Daily Sun]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 19
Posted by The Curator on Sat Jul 19, 2014
July 19, 2002: The Case of a Phony 9/11 Survivor
On this day, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported the inspirational story of Daniel McCarthy, who had just been wed in Lake Tahoe. McCarthy, the paper said, was a Brooklyn police officer who had survived after being buried for 79 hours in the rubble of the World Trade Center. However, the national attention brought by the article quickly exposed McCarthy's elaborate tale of heroics as a complete fraud. McCarthy was neither a cop nor a 9/11 survivor. In reality, he had a long criminal record, and, on top of everything else, was already married. So his new marriage made him a bigamist. [Editor & Publisher]
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This Day in the History of Hoaxes: July 18
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 18, 2014
July 18, 1938: Wrong Way Corrigan
On this day, Douglas Corrigan landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome in Ireland after a solo, 28-hour flight across the Atlantic. The FAA had denied him permission for the flight because of the poor condition of his plane, but Corrigan claimed that he had intended to fly to California from Long Island but accidentally went the wrong way because of a broken compass. The explanation earned him the nickname "Wrong Way" Corrigan. His error was viewed by almost everyone as intentional, though he never admitted to this. [wikipedia]
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Milkybar Pareidolia
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
While watching the World Cup, a British lawyer (Robin Jacobs) was eating a Milkybar and noticed that the design imprinted on the bar includes a phallic shape that he believes is inappropriate for children. A spokesperson for Nestle, the maker of the bar, responded: "Nestle is surprised and sorry to hear that Mr Jacobs thought the picture on the Milkybar resembles male genitalia, it is in fact an image of a horse’s head, the Milkybar Kid’s horse." This Milkybar phallus pareidolia is getting LOTS of press coverage, although it's not clear to me why since people have been talking about the 'rude' image on the Milkybar for years. Here's a…
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Full Contact Skydiving
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
Full Contact Skydiving is defined (according to the website that promotes it) as "a mixed martial art combat sport occurring in the free-fall portion of a standard skydiving jump." But no, it isn't real. The entire thing is a spoof designed to promote the Amp energy drink. As revealed in a "behind the scenes" video recently posted.
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Shark in Lake Ontario
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jul 17, 2014
A video released last week showing a group of fishermen having an encounter with a shark in Lake Ontario has proven to be a hoax. The video was created by a company called Bell Media using a prosthetic model shark, as the company has admitted in a recent press release. It was "the first step of a multi-stage marketing campaign" to promote the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. Nissan is also involved in the hoax, since they're the ones sponsoring Shark Week. Apparently Nissan will have an ongoing campaign running throughout Shark Week titled "In Search of Canada's Rogue Shark," in which a team will be…
Categories: Advertising, Animals Comments (0)
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