The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
Tom wrote to ask about the reality of a site called The Phobia Clinic. At first glance, the site definitely looks like it represents a real business that's selling a program to help people overcome their fears. The strangeness comes when you dig into some of the fears that they claim they can cure, and you have to wonder... do such fears or anxieties really exist? For example, they can cure you of Arachibutyrophobia (that's a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth), Ballistophobia (a fear of bullets... but why would anyone want to overcome their fear of bullets? Isn't that a good thing to be afraid of?), Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (fear of…
Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 Comments (449)

'Free MJ' shop that's now up on CafePress. Plus, there have been quite a few postings today on my message board dedicated to Michael Jackson's Nose.
Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2003 Comments (0)

I wrote in my book about the burgeoning Jedi movement throughout the world. For instance, when the 2001 census was taken in Britain, tens of thousands of people listed 'Jedi Knight' as their religious affiliation on the census forms. I've actually heard from a source in the Office of National Statistics that when the figures were all counted, there ended up being more Jedis than Jews in Britain. Now we have more proof of the growing stature of 'Jediism': the quasi-official website of the Jedi Religion.
Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2003 Comments (28)

Mixing together some content that had been on the site before, with a little stuff from my book, I just created a small gallery of hoaxes involving Adolf Hitler. He was a strange man, and he inspired some strange hoaxes.
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2003 Comments (0)


People are up in arms about the Great Chili Scandal. The scandal occurred at the 37th annual Original Terlingua International Frank X. Tolbert-Wick Fowler Memorial Championship Chili Cook-Off, which is like the superbowl of Chili Cook-offs. Don Eastep won first place this year. Problem is that Don hadn't actually cooked any of his own chili. His brother Terry had dropped out of the contest at the last minute, so Don posed as his brother and took his place. But instead of cooking something of his own, Don simply walked around and took one spoonful of chili from each of the 80 contestants. Then he mixed these eighty spoonfuls together in a bowl and handed that in as his entry.…
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2003 Comments (0)

This is one of those cases where a joke supposedly becomes reality. An advertising company (The Design Conspiracy) created a joke website called What Brand Are You?, whose purpose was to spoof the bizarre brand names that companies are increasingly dreaming up—names such as Aviva, Diageo, and Corus. Visitors to What Brand Are You could type in their name, their 'core values,' and their goals, and the supercomputer powering the website would then spit out a personalized brand name free of charge (my brand name is 'Acclivius'). In reality, the Design Conspiracy had just dreamed up a few silly names (about 150, they say) which were randomly offered when visitors hit the submit button. But apparently a number of…
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2003 Comments (1)

Posters advertising a campaign rally for Howard Dean, and sporting a confederate flag in the background, appeared all over the campus of Dartmouth College. The group hosting the rally denies having created the posters, therefore they're obviously a prank, created by some group as yet unknown.
Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2003 Comments (0)

Here's a picture of the 2004 calendar of Jamie Oliver (aka The Naked Chef). Note the suggestively placed piece of bread. This image originally appeared on the website of Boots, which is a British pharmacy. And it quickly attracted attention, at which point Boots cropped the image in order to remove the offending piece of bread. I can't find another picture of the calendar anywhere online to compare this picture to, but I'm assuming that the piece of bread must have been photoshopped in. Probably by a mischievous Boots employee. Update 2 (11/17/03): David Emery reports that he was able to find the real version of the…
Posted: Sat Nov 15, 2003 Comments (0)

A modern-day 'Catch Me If You Can' criminal is on the run in Australia. He cons women out of money by posing as a pilot. Except that Frank Abagnale was a teenager when he posed as a pilot, whereas this guy is in his 30s.
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 Comments (0)

Tim Radford has a piece in today's Guardian on his Top 10 favorite Science Hoaxes of All Time. The Piltdown Man comes in at number one. Strangely, he seemed to omit a number of very famous cases, such as the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, the Cardiff Giant, the Paul Kammerer 'Case of the Midwife Toad', William Summerlin and his painted mice, Shinichi Fujimura's Stone Age discoveries, and the recent Piltdown Chicken (of National Geographic fame). But then, it is his list, and I guess everyone would pick something different.
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 Comments (0)

Here's even more stuff about the Piltdown Man (there's a lot of stuff about this because of the anniversary of the exposure of the fraud). The Independent reports that two academics are going to give a lecture in which they'll argue that two independent hoaxers were responsible for the piltdown frauds. But as far as I know, this theory has actually been floating around for a while.
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 Comments (0)

According to legend, the sport of Rugby was born in 1823 when a schoolboy at Rugby School named William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a football game and started running with it. But according to an interesting piece in the 'Questions Answered' section of the London Times, this legend is probably a hoax. Unfortunately I can't link to the piece, so I've cut and pasted the relevant paragraph: There is very little evidence to support the assertion that William Webb Ellis was the first person to pick up the ball and run with it. In 1876 Martin Bloxam, who had left Rugby in 1820, wrote an account for the school magazine based on hearsay. This was immediately…
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 Comments (0)

Meet Lyndall Grant, professional Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, this guy earns almost $1000 a pop to imitate the Governator at corporate events and parties. Sometimes he does two events a night. When he's not imitating Ah-nold, he works as a landscape designer.
Posted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 Comments (0)

The actor Judge Reinhold is set to produce a movie based on the life of Ray Wallace, the man whose prank led to the name 'Bigfoot' being coined. Of course, i still haven't seen Shattered Glass, the movie based on the career of media hoaxer Stephen Glass. I want to, but it doesn't appear to be playing in San Diego.
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 Comments (0)

This woman claims that she was happily eating her clam chowder at a restaurant in Irvine, CA when to her horror she discovered a condom floating in it. Actually, she discovered the condom by biting down on it. Incessant vomiting followed. The restaurant, meanwhile, is denying any responsibility, so the woman has filed a lawsuit, which will commence Jan. 12, 2004. It seems obvious that someone is lying here, but it's basically the woman's word against the word of the restaurant managers.
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 Comments (0)

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