Hoax Museum Blog: History

The Hitler Diaries — An interesting comment from a visitor about the Hitler Diaries:
Dear Alex, The most tell-tale and overlooked detail about the Hitler Diaries being fake you do not mention in your article, although it makes the complete affair all the more funny:
On the front cover were two metal letters, supposedly the initials "A H" for
Adolf Hitler, in an old German Gothic lettering. The funny part being that
ridiculously neither Gerd Heidemann nor any other from the *Stern* staff nor
the experts they consulted saw that the "A" was actually an "F".

Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003.   Comments (0)

Hoaxes from the Philippines — Here's an interesting discussion of some historical hoaxes from the Philippines, specifically those perpetrated in the early twentieth century by Jose E. Marco, a philatelic forger.
Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003.   Comments (7)

Utah town celebrates Viking origin — Come next April (2004) the town of Cedar City, Utah will be celebrating the Festival Royale of Himmelsk, a four-day event to honor the group of Vikings who founded the town in 956 AD. The entire story of this strange festival is told here. (Thanks to Lansin Carmean for forwarding this story to me).
Posted: Tue Jul 01, 2003.   Comments (0)

Princess Caraboo Parking Lot — I've just learned from a resident of Bristol that the gravesite of Princess Caraboo is soon going to be paved over and turned into a parking lot. It seems a poor way for Bristol to treat one of its most famous historical figures. I found one page protesting the planned parking lot.
Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2003.   Comments (1)

Great Wall of China Hoax — This day in hoax history. June 25, 1899: The Great Wall of China Hoax.
Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2003.   Comments (0)

Mein Kampf Sequel — It turns out that Hitler wrote a sequel to Mein Kampf, and unlike the infamous Hitler Diaries, it's not a hoax. It's soon going to be published in an English translation. This NY Times article about it also contains a good summary of the Hitler Diaries hoax.
Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2003.   Comments (0)

Brother of Jesus — The box that some people claim once contained the remains of the brother of Jesus has been determined to be a fake.
Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2003.   Comments (0)

Yehoash Tablet — The "Yehoash Tablet" found in Israel last year turns out to be a fake.
Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2003.   Comments (0)

Laramie Kid Hoax — More about the Laramie Kid Hoax. I just received an email from the Long Riders guild alerting me to the great series of articles they have on their website, fully debunking the claims of Frank Hopkins (aka the Laramie Kid). Hopkins claimed to have been one of the great horse riders of all time, including among his accomplishments winning a 3000 mile horse race across Arabia on a mustang called 'Hidalgo.' In October 2003 Disney will be releasing a film based on this supposed event, starring Viggo Mortensen as Hopkins. It is claiming the movie is 'based on the true story of Frank Hopkins.' But as the Long Riders Guild demonstrates, none of Hopkins' claims were true. There's no evidence that he won ANY races at all. It's not clear he even rode horses. Other sources have also been picking up on the Laramie Kid Hoax, including the Billings Gazette (which I linked to previously).
Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2003.   Comments (0)

Electric Kite Hoax — MAJOR HOAX NEWS: Historian Tom Tucker argues in a recent book that Benjamin Franklin's story about flying a kite in a thunderstorm to prove that lightning was a form of electricity was actually a hoax. Franklin never did the experiment. I'm going to order a copy of Tucker's book (which will be released in a week or so) to read the full argument for myself, but if true, then I guess I can add the 'electric kite hoax' to the list of Franklin's other hoaxes.
Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2003.   Comments (0)

The Solomon Stone — image Scientists puzzle over the mystery of the Solomon stone found in Israel. As the London Times puts it: it "is either a state-of-the-art hoax or an ancient Hebrew inscription - more than 2,000 years old - confirming the Biblical account of Solomon's temple." Many people would dearly want this to be true. So in such cases the burden of evidence should be set even higher, to counter the wish-fulfillment impulse.
Posted: Sat Jan 18, 2003.   Comments (0)

US News & World Report and the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 — US News & World Report has a special double issue this week on "The Art of the Hoax". Check out the lead article, "Strange but true: This is the golden age of hoaxes." Yours truly was interviewed for it and gets mentioned twice! Very exciting. But also check out their short piece on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. As it turns out, they fell for a tall-tale about this hoax. In the first paragraph they claim that because of this newspaper hoax:

"Daily sales of the Sun skyrocketed from 4,000 to 19,000–making it the world's most popular paper and launching a new kind of journalism."

Not so! For almost a century historians have been repeating this story about how the great moon hoax propelled the New York Sun to media stardom and established it as the world's most popular paper, and established modern journalism in the process. But the story is actually totally false. The tale got its start because a few days into the hoax, on August 28, 1835, the Sun boasted that it had a circulation of 19,360, making it the most widely circulated paper in the world. Almost a century later the historian Frank M. O'Brien, in his 1918 work about the history of the Sun (The Story of the Sun) made note of this boast in his retelling of the hoax. Subsequent historians, who relied solely upon O'Brien's work for their information about the hoax, figured that if the Sun was boasting about its circulation during the moon hoax, this must have meant that the hoax had caused a rapid rise in the paper's circulation. It seemed like a logical conclusion, but it was wrong.In actuality, the Sun had regularly been making the same boast about its high circulation for weeks before the moon hoax occurred. In fact, two weeks before the moon hoax, on August 13, 1835, the Sun boasted that its circulation was at 26,000, meaning that if you go by the Sun's own numbers, its circulation actually dropped during the moon hoax. But once the idea was established that the moon hoax immediately caused a meteoric rise in the Sun's circulation, it proved to be so compelling (because it provided a slightly scandalous angle to the birth of modern journalism) that no one ever bothered to check if it was actually true. In fact, various historians began to embellish the idea, inventing the claim that the Sun's previous circulation had been 4,000 (or 6,000, or 8,000... pick a number. Almost every author who writes about the moon hoax has a different figure for what the Sun's circulation skyrocketed from, though they all agree on the 19,000 figure).USN&WR also claims that the Journal of Commerce first exposed the hoax after the hoax's author, Richard Adams Locke, confessed to one of their reporters. This is also false. Many New York papers had immediately denounced the Sun's lunar claims as a hoax, and the New York Herald was the first to point the finger at Locke. The idea that the Journal of Commerce exposed the hoax dates to an 1852 retelling of the hoax by William Griggs.USN&WR can't really be blamed for getting some of the facts wrong. The literature about the moon hoax is full of these erroneous claims. The only reason I realized they were wrong is because I'm writing my dissertation about the moon hoax, and so I spent the time to actually dig up the papers from 1835 and find out what the real story was.
Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2002.   Comments (1)

South Sea Bubble — The Guardian reviews a new book about the South Sea Bubble of the 1720s, titled A Very English Deceit by Malcolm Balen. It seems pretty timely, given all the financial scandals of today. Apparently all the Enrons and Worldcoms don't even compare to the South Sea Bubble when it comes to truly world-class fraud on a grand scale.
Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2002.   Comments (0)

The Poet and the Murderer — The London Times reviews a new book about Mark Hoffman, the forger (and murderer) who fabricated many documents from Mormon history. The book is called The Poet and the Murderer, by Simon Worrall.
Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2002.   Comments (0)

The Vinland Map — The Vinland Map has finally been proven to be a fake. It supposedly was a map that showed the discovery of North America by Leif Eriksson in 1000 BC, but analysis of map's ink has shown that it was created after 1923. Details will appear in an upcoming issue of Analytical Chemistry published by the American Chemical Society.
Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2002.   Comments (0)

The Hitler Diaries — New evidence indicates that Gerd Heidemann, the journalist largely behind the Hitler Diaries hoax, was an East German double agent working for the Stasi. This breathes new life into the old theory that the hoax was actually a communist plot.
Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2002.   Comments (0)

The Cardiff Giant — Go visit Cooperstown, New York, where the Cardiff Giant still resides. It's housed in the Farmer's Museum. Cooperstown is also home to the Baseball Hall of Fame. There's an article about the town in today's Toronto Star.
Posted: Sun Jul 28, 2002.   Comments (0)

P.T. Barnum — Here's an interesting site about P.T. Barnum, including a list of his most famous humbugs: ptbarnum.org
Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2002.   Comments (1)

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