April Fool UFO Hoax —
One problem is that the planned hoax is too late in the day. According to the rules of April Fool's Day, pranks have to be done before noon! If you do it after noon, then you become the fool. (Does no one care about the rules any more???)
So it would be better to do this early in the morning on the 1st, rather than in the evening.
UFO Crash in London —
Students at London's North Harringay Primary School arrived at school to find a UFO had crashed in their playground. Police were on their scene, and the students spent the rest of the day discussing and writing about the mysterious craft. The UFO had actually been built by a parent as part of an event "designed to promote creative writing."
Vancouver UFO Hoax —
On September 3, a small "UFO" was seen hovering outside a Vancouver Canadians baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium. Turns out it was a fake UFO that was part of a viral marketing scheme to promote Vancouver's H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. Footage of the UFO was circulated online by an ad agency. The Space Centre has seen attendance rise by 65 percent in the last week. So apparently the viral campaign worked. [CTV News]
It certainly isn't the first time a planetarium has used a hoax to drum up business. The example that comes to mind is the time back in 1940 when Philadelphia's Franklin Institute created a panic by announcing that the world was going to end the next day. The startling announcement (which pretty much backfired on them because of all the negative publicity) was intended to promote a talk at its planetarium titled "How Will the World End?"
Jumping Cow UFO Video —
A video posted to youtube about two weeks ago shows a strange light in the sky near Stamford in the UK. Then it pans down to show a herd of cows, and then one of the cows kind of jumps up in the air.
So the cow must be jumping for one of these reasons:
it's really happy
it's being lifted up by the tractor beam of a UFO
it's a CG effect
The answer, according to video analysts that the Huffington Post talked to, is that it's a CG effect. The Stamford Mercury speculates that the video was created to build buzz for an upcoming TV show.
Aliens among us? —File this under Low Threshold of Belief. Several Southeast Asian news sites have recently published photos that supposedly document the presence of "extra terrestrial beings" here on Earth. For instance, the Visayan Daily Star ran a picture (below) of "Emily Santodelsis" posing with a small alien. Strangely, she insisted that she hadn't noticed the alien while the picture was being taken. She only spotted it later, when she looked at the photo.
And back in January, the Bangkok Post ran a picture of an alien supposedly spotted on a beach in Thailand.
The Open Minds UFO investigation site explains that the appearance of these alien photos coincides with the addition of new special effects to the Camera360 app for Android phones. These special effects allow the easy addition of UFOs, extraterrestrials, or lightning to photos taken with the Android phone.
The answer is that the UFOs are, of course, fake, but so is everything else. Every part of this video — the car, the scenery, the clouds — is CGI. Wired explains:
"UFO Over Santa Clarita" was a painstakingly crafted joke played by Aristomenis "Meni" Tsirbas, the director of the 2007 computer-animated film Battle for Terra who has also contributed visual effects and animation work to movies like Titanic and Hellboy and several Star Trek television series. A long-time champion of "photorealistic" CGI, Tsirbas and his team spent about four months mimicking the look of an accidental extraterrestrial encounter captured on a smartphone. And until now, Tsirbas hadn't revealed the truth to anyone outside a handful of friends.
"The point of the video was to prove that CGI can look natural and convincing," Tsirbas told Wired. "Everybody assumes the background and car are real, and that the UFOs are probably fake, especially the over-the-top mothership at the end. The general reaction is disbelief, so I usually have to prove it by showing a wireframe of the entire shot to prove that nothing is real."
Face of ET Found in a Log —
Ken Dobson of Chiseldon was sawing logs with a chainsaw for firewood when he saw the face of ET staring back at him from the log he just cut. Dobson doesn't say anything about believing the face to be a message from extraterrestrials. (So by American standards he's clearly nuts! Isn't it obvious this is a sign from ET?) Nor does he have plans to sell this on eBay. Instead he wants to have a professional slice more pieces from the log to see if he can get a couple more faces out of it to give to his sons. Link: BBC News. (Thanks, Hudson!)
Strange Metal Boxes Washing Up On Beaches —
In the past two weeks, various blogs have been reporting that "strange metal boxes" have been washing up on beaches in Oregon, Washington, and northern California. In some versions of the reports, these boxes make humming and screeching noises, are seamless, and can't be moved, even by trucks. The boxes are said to have appeared after UFO sightings.
Theories about what these boxes may be (besides the theory that they're the lost luggage of UFOs) include the speculation that they're the floats that were once used to support docks, or that they're left by drug runners.
However, reports are now coming in that people have gone searching for these boxes, to examine them for themselves, but haven't been able to find anything. And it looks like the entire "strange metal boxes" story traces back to two articles posted by a Dave Masko. Perhaps the boxes only existed in his imagination.
Evidence of Extraterrestrials in North Korea? —
The Alien Disclosure Group (ADG) UK has posted a video on youtube in which they suggest that the funeral of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il may have been attended by extraterrestrials. Or very tall earthlings. One or the other.
The ADG seems eager to see aliens in any mystery. But their video does highlight two legitimate items of strangeness from Kim Jong-Il's funeral.
The first is that there apparently really was an extremely tall person standing in the crowd watching Kim Jong-Il's funeral procession. His identity is unknown. So perhaps it was an extraterrestrial. Or maybe it was Ri Myung Hung, the 7' 9" North Korean basketball player.
The second item of strangeness is that North Korea released a photo of the funeral procession from which, it was later noticed, a group of people had been erased. Why did the North Korean authorities erase these people? The ADG suggests it was because they were aliens. The NY Times suggests it was the work of some unknown North Korean photo editor who simply thought the photo looked better without those people. The Times attributes this to "totalitarian aesthetics":
With the men straggling around the sidelines, a certain martial perfection is lost. Without the men, the tight black bands of the crowd on either side look railroad straight.
Alien Baby or Hoax? —I'm guessing it's a hoax:The Daily Telegraph reports on an ongoing controversy about a "baby alien" discovered in Mexico in 2007. It was supposedly discovered by a farmer who drowned it out of fear. This farmer later burned to death in a parked car (killed by the baby's parents?). Scientists are said to be baffled by the creature.
The story: in early 1958 sightings of a "little blue man" running along the side of Michigan highways began appearing in the news. It turned out that what motorists were seeing was actually a young man named Jerry Sprague, dressed in a costume that included: long underwear, a football helmet, gloves, combat boots, a bedsheet with two holes cut out for the eyes and a button sewed on for the mouth and blinking lights on the helmet -- all of which had been spray painted a shade of blue that glowed faintly in the dark. He would jump out of the trunk of his friend's car, run along the highway a bit, and then jump back in the trunk.
The mysterious little blue man soon became national news. The pranksters eventually turned themselves in to the police and were let off with a warning.
Children from an Edgware school were made to believe aliens had landed in their playground by teachers and police.
After spending this morning bewildered by the unusual hoax, pupils from Stag Lane School in Collier Drive, quizzed police officers brought on to the site during a press conference to make the event seem more realistic. Forensic examiners had earlier analyzed an 'alien claw' they had 'found' on the site.
The aim of the day was to stimulate the children's minds and help develop their story writing skills.
After lunch the pupils were informed by the school's headteacher Elena Evans that it was all a stunt.
Georgia Monkey Hoax of 1953 —
Back in July 1953 three pranksters left the hairless/tailless body of a monkey lying in the middle of a Georgia highway. When a policeman came along, they told him it was the body of an extraterrestrial that they had accidentally run over. Its friends had escaped moments before in a spacecraft. The prank managed to make national headlines. (I describe it in greater detail in the Hoax Archive.)
MSNBC has an article (with picture) about the Great Monkey Hoax. The occasion for it is a visit by an AP reporter to the museum of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, where the body of the monkey is still preserved.
Seven years ago, when I was writing the book version of The Museum of Hoaxes, I spent some time on the phone trying to track down this monkey. I had heard that the GBI still had it, but I wanted to confirm the info.
I eventually reached a woman who worked in the archives of the GBI and asked her if they still had the hairless monkey. I explained the history of the prank to her, but she had no clue what I was going on about. From her tone of voice she evidently thought I was playing a prank on her. She swore to me that the GBI had no such monkey. Looks like she was wrong. They do still have it!
Faceless Aliens —
This has already been posted in the forum, but I've received too many emails about it to ignore it. "Faceless aliens" have been spotted attending various high-profile events in the UK, including Wimbledon and the Harrods summer sale. The "aliens" are people wearing masks. So why are they doing this? According to the Mail Online, theories include:
the possibilities that they are limelight-seeking pranksters, performance artists or that they are at the centre of a viral marketing campaign for an as-yet unknown product of forthcoming horror film.
I'm putting my money on a viral marketing campaign, but for what, I don't know. Maybe the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, coming out in December, which stars Keanu Reeves as an expressionless alien? (Some would say Keanu Reeves has played an expressionless alien in every movie he's ever been in.) But that's just a wild guess. And the problem with that theory is it doesn't explain why the faceless aliens are appearing specifically in the UK.
Update: So it was a viral campaign for Lotus Eagle. Mystery solved before I even posted about it.
Something about Mars makes us see things that aren't really there. It began with early astronomers believing that the surface of Mars was covered with canals. During the 1960s, some astronomers reported seeing signs of vegetation on the planet's surface.
The image below shows (on the top row) the Martian canals. The bottow row (from left to right) is the "face on Mars" taken by NASA's Viking spacecraft in the 1970s; the fossils that NASA researchers claimed to have found in a Martian meteorite in 1996; the recent Martian bigfoot; and the Martian smiley face (also recently photographed).