The Hoax Museum Blog

The $12 Million Message In A Bottle

In 1949, did a California restaurant worker really find a will sealed inside a bottle that bequeathed millions of dollars to him, as the finder of the bottle?

Posted: Wed Sep 16, 2015.   Comments (1)

Boyfriend was really a girlfriend

Almost too weird to believe: Gayle Newland says that for two years she thought she was meeting and having sex with her boyfriend, Kye Fortune... a boyfriend whom she never set eyes on because she wore a blindfold the entire time they were together. Kye insisted on this, saying he was ashamed of scars from a car accident and "anxious about the way he looked." But according to a criminal complaint Newland has filed, she eventually discovered that this "boyfriend" was actually one of her female friends wearing a prosthetic penis. She's now suing that friend for sexual assault. More info:

Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2015.   Comments (5)

The Poetry of Yi-Fen Chou

Since 2009, the poetry of Yi-Fen Chou has appeared in a number of journals, but Yi-Fen's big break came when one of his poems was selected for inclusion in the 2015 edition of Best American Poetry. But that's also when the trouble began, because after learning of the selection, Yi-Fen admitted that he was actually Michael Derrick Hudson, a white man who lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana and worked at the Allen County Public Library. more…

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015.   Comments (2)

Bogus Baldness Epidemics

Two cases in which the press warned the public about "epidemics of baldness," only to have those epidemics turn out to be much less than was initially reported. One case occurred in 1926, when the New York Times reported that 300 young men in the town of Kittanning, Pa. had been struck by sudden-onset baldness which was attributed to a "mysterious germ." more…

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015.   Comments (2)

Peterfid Tomcat

In 1960, a group of janitors snuck a piece of scrap metal into an art exhibit. It was awarded a ribbon for merit. more…

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015.   Comments (0)

Did Cleopatra Drink a Pearl Dissolved in Vinegar?

Ancient legend tells of Cleopatra drinking an extravagantly expensive beverage — the world's most expensive pearl dissolved in vinegar. But modern scholars disagree about whether she ever really drank such a concoction.

Posted: Sat May 30, 2015.   Comments (0)

The Rhythm of the Trees

After gaining a coveted place in the 1993 Manchester Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition, the creator of this painting was revealed to be 4-year-old Carly Johnson of Lancashire. Her mother had submitted the work as a joke. more…

Posted: Mon May 25, 2015.   Comments (2)

Cheeseburger Oreos

A photo circulating on social media shows Cheeseburger Oreos. No, there is no such flavor. It's the latest in the "fake Oreo flavor" trend popular on social media.

Posted: Wed May 20, 2015.   Comments (1)

Sponge-Throwing Painters of the Ancient World

An ancient legend described the role of chance in art — a sponge flung in anger at a canvas accidentally produced the exact effect a painter had been striving for. The same story was told of three different painters, suggesting the tale was an urban legend. more…

Posted: Tue May 19, 2015.   Comments (1)

The Man on Page 602

Was a male model's genitalia really visible in the 1975 Sears Fall/Winter catalog? We add some new evidence to this old debate. more…

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015.   Comments (5)

Playing football as fire rages

The image shows a crowd sitting in bleachers calmly watching a football game, apparently unconcerned as a building burns to the ground behind them. The bizarre juxtaposition has led some people over the years to suspect that this image is fake — perhaps a result of darkroom photo manipulation. But in fact, the image is entirely real and was unstaged. more…

Posted: Wed May 13, 2015.   Comments (0)

Cat Gives Birth to a Chihuahua

A 74-year-old Chinese man claims that his cat has given birth to a Chihuahua. As absurd as the situation sounds, I initially suspected this wasn't a hoax (although I didn't think the young animal really was a Chihuahua). But now I'm thinking, yeah, probably a hoax. more…

Posted: Mon May 11, 2015.   Comments (3)

The Art of Fake News

I have a new book to add to my reading list of hoaxes. It's Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles's War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News, by A. Brad Schwartz, in which he re-examines the 1938 Panic Broadcast by looking at the letters sent to Welles himself in the days after the broadcast. Schwartz has also posted a list over at huffpost of ten times when "fake news made real news." more…

Posted: Mon May 11, 2015.   Comments (0)

Posted: Mon May 11, 2015.   Comments (2)

USS Los Angeles lifts navy ship into the air

A 1931 photo in the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung showing the US Navy airship "Los Angeles," blown by a gust of wind, lifting a ship into the air, was just an April Fool's Day hoax. But it was inspired by a very similar real incident. more…

Posted: Sat May 09, 2015.   Comments (0)

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