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The Hoax Museum Blog
Hoaxes, mischief, and misinformation throughout history
September 8, 1961: Cassius Clay Trains Underwater
The Sep 8, 1961 issue of Life magazine contained a photo feature showing 19-year-old boxer Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) training underwater. Clay had told photographer Flip Schulke that he often trained underwater because the water resistance acted like a weight. He said it was an old trick taught to him by a Louisville trainer. In fact, Clay had never trained underwater before. He couldn't even swim. It was a tall tale he had told to fool the photographer. [Ali Underwater]
Posted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 Comments (0)

September 7, 1993: The Diary of Jack the Ripper
On this Day in 1993, Warner Books cancelled its planned publication of The Diary of Jack the Ripper, having concluded the diary was a hoax. The diary implicated Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick as Jack the Ripper. However, the handwriting of the diary did not match known samples of Maybrick's handwriting. The provenance of the diary (where it came from) was also extremely murky. It's possible it was a forgery from the 1920s or 30s that was only found in the 1990s. However, debate about the diary still continues. [wikipedia]
Posted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 Comments (0)

Londonist offers a brief list of some of London's pranks and hoaxes. They don't include any that aren't already listed here. But they do include quite a few links back to the museum!
Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 Comments (0)

This recording of an apparent Sasquatch vocalization was made recently by a member of the British Columbia Sasquatch Organization at an "undisclosed location." Honestly, I didn't think that Sasquatch would have such a high-pitched cry.
Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 Comments (3)


Sir David Attenborough is feeling the lure of the yeti. He says he wouldn't mind searching for it as his next project. If he does take off after it, I definitely hope he finds it.
Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 Comments (1)

A family resemblance spotted by Anthony Nelson while dining at Akbah's curry house in Middlesbrough. [metro.co.uk]
Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 Comments (0)

September 6, 1994: The End of the World?
In his book 1994? (published in 1992), preacher Harold Camping predicted that there was a strong likelihood that the Second Coming of Christ would occur on September 6, 1994. When that didn't happen, Camping conceded he may have made a mathematical error in his calculations. Over the following years, he revised his prophecy multiple times until he finally arrived at the date of May 21, 2011, which turned out to be wrong also. [rationalwiki]
Posted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 Comments (0)

September 5, 1896: Sympsychography
The September 1896 issue of The Popular Science Monthly contained an article by David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University, about the invention of a form of mental photography called Sympsychography. The process allowed people to create an image on a photographic plate merely by concentrating their minds on what they would like to appear. Jordan intended it as a joke, and it was identified as such the next day in the Chicago Tribune. Nevertheless, many other papers took it seriously. More…
Posted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 Comments (0)

Reddit Pics managed to debunk this selfie with a shark photo (titled "At the time, I had no idea I wasn't swimming alone") pretty quickly. Redditor "BigAndDelicious" figured out that the shark in the background was actually cut-and-pasted from an image photographed by Gerard Soury in South Australia.
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 Comments (0)

The headline of today's Daily Express warned that the EU may ban kettles. Which sounds like something that would strike right at the heart of British culture. The reality, however, (as pointed out by fullfact.org) is a bit less sensational. An EU commission is investigating the energy consumption of kettles and may, in the future, suggest regulations that would make kettles more energy efficient and improve their impact on the environment. "Euromyths" (i.e. misleading stories about regulations supposedly dreamed up by overzealous EU bureaucrats) are very popular with the British tabloid press. Some fake Euromyths circulated in the past include that the EU was reclassifying kilts…
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 Comments (1)

This moth was spotted by Yvonne Esquilin of Texas. She said that at first she was just amazed by the size of the moth. It didn't dawn on her until after she took the picture that she could see an image of Jesus in the pattern on its wings. However, others have pointed out to her that the pattern also looks a bit like a devil, which she thinks is "kind of creepy." [kxan]
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 Comments (0)

Artificial banana flavor doesn't taste much like actual bananas. It's sweeter and more pungent. And there's a legend about why this is so. The story goes that the difference in flavors came about because the artificial flavor was developed from an old variety of bananas called the Gros Michel. However, the Gros Michel succumbed to a fungus and ceased to be commercially produced. It was replaced by the Cavendish, which had a slightly different flavor. And so the artificial flavoring tasted like the original bananas, but not the ones we eat now. Is there any truth to this legend? Chris Baraniuk did some research for the BBC, but he couldn't find any scientific source…
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 Comments (0)

September 4, 1967: The Great British UFO Invasion
The discovery of six saucer-shaped objects giving off "bleep-bleep" signals caused panic in southern England. There was real fear of a UFO invasion, although the Ministry of Defense also suspected the mysterious saucers might be some kind of Soviet weapon. But at the end of the day, two trainee aircraft engineers confessed the saucers were their creation. They explained, "We believe that flying saucers could land one day, so we landed our own to give the authorities some practice." [Daily Mail]
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 Comments (0)

September 3, 1934: Paul Klenovsky Exposed
For five years, British conductor Sir Henry Wood had attributed an orchestration of Bach's Organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor to an otherwise unknown young Russian man named Paul Klenovsky. The orchestration was highly praised. But finally, on this day, Wood admitted he himself was Klenovsky. He perpetrated the ruse, he said, to demonstrate the lavish praise bestowed by critics on anyone with a high-sounding foreign name. "Klen" was the Russian word for a maple tree (i.e. a type of wood).
Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 Comments (1)

Richard Macrae of Aberdeen claims that he's earned more than €250 in discounts by showing stores his "Ginger Discount Card." He just shows it to cashiers and ask if they offer a ginger discount. [newstalk.ie]
Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 Comments (1)

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