List of hoaxes
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The following are lists of hoaxes:
These are some claims that have been revealed to be deliberate public hoaxes. This list does not include hoax articles published on or around April 1, a long list of which can be found in the "April Fools' Day" article.
- Cedric Allingham, fictitious author who wrote a book about meeting the pilot of a Martian spacecraft. Allingham was created by British astronomer Patrick Moore and his friend Peter Davies.
- Alien autopsy hoax film by Ray Santilli
- Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari, a fake Syrian blogger
- Apollo 20, a series of YouTube videos claiming to show evidence of intelligent, extraterrestrial life on the moon
- The Archko Volume, a collection of documents related to the life of Jesus
- The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, a book about purported sexual-enslavement of a nun
- The Balloon-Hoax, depicting a cross-Atlantic hot air balloon trip
- The balloon boy hoax – a boy reported to be traveling uncontrollably at high altitudes in a home-made helium balloon was later discovered to be hiding in the attic of his house
- Bananadine, a fictional drug made from bananas
- Bathtub hoax, an imaginary history of the bathtub published by H.L. Mencken
- Johann Beringer's Lying Stones
- Berners Street hoax in 1810
- Franz Bibfeldt, a fictitious theologian originally invented to provide a footnote for a divinity school student, which later became an in-joke among academic theologians
- The Big Donor Show, a hoax reality television program in the Netherlands about a woman donating her kidneys to one of three people requiring a transplantation
- C.W. Blubberhouse, whose letters in UK national newspapers were exposed as a hoax by the Sunday Times
- Blue waffle, a supposedly contagious sexually transmitted disease affecting only women, causing a blue discoloration of the vagina
- Calaveras Skull was a human skull found by miners in Calaveras County, California, which was purported to prove that humans, mastodons, and elephants had coexisted in California.
- The Cardiff Giant, was a hoax of a hoax, when P. T. Barnum made up a replica because he could not obtain the "genuine" hoax item
- The Cottingley Fairies; cut-out fairies accepted as real
- Crop circles. English pranksters Doug Bower and Dave Chorley claimed they started the phenomenon, and hundreds of "copycat" circles have been fabricated since by other hoaxers.
- Disappearing blonde gene; not really
- Document 12-571-3570 supposedly established that sex had taken place during a U.S. space mission
- Dreadnought hoax perpetrated in 1910 by Horace de Vere Cole and a group of friends who, pretending to be an official delegation from Abyssinia, tricked the Royal Navy into giving them an official tour of the battleship HMS Dreadnought
- Emulex hoax, a stock manipulation scheme
- The English Mercurie, a literary hoax purporting to be the first English language newspaper
- Ern Malley, a fictitious poet
- Fiji mermaid, the supposed remains of a half-fish half-human hybrid
- Sidd Finch, fictional baseball player
- Furry trout
- Great Moon Hoax a series of articles describing a Lunar civilization
- Gundala (film) a super hero movie that was promoted on the web despite the fact that it did not exist
- Joice Heth, African-American slave exhibited by P. T. Barnum as George Washington's nurse.
- Histoire de l'Inquisition en France, the 1829 book by Etienne Leon de Lamonthe-Langan
- The Hitler Diaries, purportedly written by Hitler
- The Horn Papers, a genealogical hoax
- The Ireland Shakespeare forgeries, a collection of Shakespeare-related documents supposedly discovered by William Henry Ireland and published in 1795 by his father, Samuel Ireland; the discoveries included a "lost" play, Vortigern and Rowena
- Clifford Irving's biography of Howard Hughes
- The Jackalope, supposedly a form of rabbit with antlers
- The Jacko hoax, a supposed gorilla or sasquatch caught near Yale, British Columbia, in 1884
- The Lady Hope Story, a claim of Charles Darwin's deathbed conversion to evangelical Christianity
- Maggie Murphy hoax, a hoax that claimed a farmer grew an oversized potato
- Manhattan Airport Foundation, advocating for the development of an airport replacing Central Park.
- Mars hoax (also called the Two Moons hoax), a yearly hoax, started in 2003, falsely claiming that at a certain date Mars will look as large as the full moon
- The Masked Marauders, an album issued by a Warner Bros. Records subsidiary that reportedly featured a jam session between Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The perpetrator was Rolling Stone magazine.
- The Microsoft acquisition hoax, a 1994 hoax claiming that Microsoft had acquired the Roman Catholic Church. The hoax is considered to be the first hoax to reach a mass audience on the Internet. Following its debunking by Microsoft, new jokes with similar stories about Microsoft and other companies unrealistically acquiring affluent non-profit bodies have also appeared later.
- The Miscovich emeralds hoax, an attempt by a diver to pass modern emeralds off as treasures from a sunken Spanish galleon.
- Naked Came the Stranger: a 1969 novel by a group of American journalists attempting to satisfy, and thus expose, what they perceived as degraded standards in popular American literature; it succeeded, selling about 90,000 copies before the hoax was revealed.
- Nibiru cataclysm
- Ompax spatuloides, a "fish" supposedly discovered in 1872 in Australia, made of a mullet, an eel and the head of a platypus, as a joke on Karl Theodor Staiger which also fooled Francis de Laporte de Castelnau into writing a scientific description of the "species".
- The Works of Ossian, "translated" by James MacPherson
- "Our First Time", an early popularized Internet hoax.
- Edward Owens (hoax), perpetrated on the English-language Wikipedia in 2008 by a class at George Mason University.
- The Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Octopus paxarbolis)
- Paul is dead (Paul McCartney death hoax)
- The perpetual motion engines built by John Ernst Worrell Keely and Charles Redheffer
- The Persian Princess, a mummy of an alleged princess which surfaced in October 2000, which proved to be an archaeological forgery and possibly a modern murder victim.
- Pickled dragon
- Pierre Brassau was a pseudonym for a chimpanzee whose art was exhibited in a gallery under the presumption that Brassau was a real human artist. The chimpanzee received positive reviews from several critics.
- Piltdown Man
- Plainfield Teacher's College, a fictional school whose football scores ended up in major newspapers in 1941.
- Platinum Weird, deliberate hoax by David A. Stewart and Kara DioGuardi about a fictitious band from 1974 promoted using false advertising
- Pope Joan – the one and only supposed female pope
- The Poppy Fields, a made-up band that earned a number 24 hit for "45 RPM", a song they had not recorded
- Princess Caraboo, aka Mary Baker
- The Priory of Sion, a made-up secret society that plays a prominent role in The Da Vinci Code
- Progesterex, a date-rape drug
- Prophecy of the Popes
- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book instrumental in the surge of antisemitism during the last hundred years
- George Psalmanazar and his "Formosa"
- Psychic surgery
- Q33 NY, an Internet hoax based on the 9/11 attacks
- A Racial Program for the Twentieth Century
- Tamara Rand prediction of the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, which was actually made after the fact (Randi 1982:329).
- Rejecting Jane chronicles the rejection by publishing houses of the opening chapters of Jane Austen novels submitted to them under a pseudonym by British writer David Lassman
- The Report From Iron Mountain, a literary hoax claiming that the government had concluded that peacetime was not in the economy's best interest
- Rosenhan experiment: the admission of healthy "pseudopatients" to twelve psychiatric hospitals.
- Rosie Ruiz, who cheated in the Boston Marathon
- Frank Scully's 1950 book Behind the Flying Saucers, which claimed that aliens from a crashed flying saucer were being held
- "Seriously McDonalds", a viral photograph apparently showing racist policies introduced by McDonald's.
- Michael Shrimpton, who perpetrated a hoax that Germany was planning a nuclear attack on the 2012 Summer Olympics
- The Skvader, a form of winged hare supposedly indigenous to Sweden
- The 'Sloot Digital Coding System' (SDCS), a methode of digital compression devised by Dutchman Jan Sloot which allegedly could compress an entire movie into 8 kilobyte
- Songs of Bilitis, supposed ancient Greek poems "discovered" by Pierre Louÿs
- Space Cadets, a 2005 TV programme by Channel 4, in which contestants were fooled into thinking that they were training at a Russian space academy to become space tourists.
- The "R. E. Straith" letter sent to George Adamski by Gray Barker and James W. Moseley (Moseley & Pflock 2002:124–27,331–32).
- James Vicary's Subliminal advertising (Boese 2002:127–8)
- The "Surgeon's Photo" of the Loch Ness Monster
- SETI: EQ Pegasus Hoax of 1998
- Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax
- Thatchergate Tapes, a fake conversation with which the punk band Crass fooled the governments of the USA and UK
- Slowing of Satellites above Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple, because of mysterious UV rays from Saturn, claimed to have been admitted as a Miracle, by NASA
- Robert Tilton's "prayer cloths"
- Mary Toft, the rabbit mother
- Toothing, an invented fad about people using Bluetooth phones to arrange sexual encounters
- Tourist guy, fake photo of a tourist at the top of the World Trade Center building on 9/11 with a plane about to crash in the background
- Trodmore Racecourse, a fictitious Cornish race meeting
- The Turk, a chess-playing automaton that actually contained a person
- Tuxissa, a computer virus hoax
- Benjamin Vanderford's beheading video
- Villejuif leaflet, a pamphlet distributed in Europe with claims of various food additives having carcinogenic effects.
- Southern Television broadcast interruption hoax (1977), hoax message inserted into an IBA broadcast in the United Kingdom on 26 November 1977
- David Weiss, a fictitious person that was used by the Jerusalem Post as a source
- Laurel Rose Willson's claims to be a survivor of Satanic ritual abuse (as Lauren Stratford), and of the Holocaust (as Laura Grabowski)
- Yellowcake forgery, the false documents suggesting Iraq's Saddam Hussein was to purchase uranium from Niger
- Zzxjoanw, a fictitious word that fooled logologists for 70 years
Proven hoaxes of exposureEdit
"Proven hoaxes of exposure" are semi-comical or private sting operations. They usually encourage people to act foolishly or credulously by falling for patent nonsense that the hoaxer deliberately presents as reality. See also culture jamming.
- The Amityville Horror – ghostly events reported by the buyers of a house where another family had been murdered.
- The Atlanta Nights hoax
- The British television series Brass Eye encouraged celebrities to pledge their support to nonexistent causes, to highlight their willingness to do anything for publicity
- Dihydrogen monoxide hoax
- Genpets, the bio-engineered pet creatures
- Grunge speak, an alleged slang of the Seattle rock underground, concocted by a Sub Pop employee and profiled in The New York Times
- ID Sniper rifle, a rifle that shoots GPS chips to mark and track suspects
- The Lovelump bio-engineered sex toy
- Project Alpha – exposed poor research into psychic phenomena
- Pacific Northwest tree octopus, by Lyle Zapato
- Sina, the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals
- Nat Tate, an imaginary artist, about whom a biography was published in 1998 by William Boyd intended to temporarily fool the art world
- Media pranks of Joey Skaggs
- The Sokal affair
- The Taxil hoax by Léo Taxil, poking fun at the Roman Catholic Church's attitude toward Freemasonry
- The avant-garde "music" of "Piotr Zak"
- The practice of growing Bonsai Kittens
- January 2009 Quadrant Hoax
- The Canadian House Hippo hoax briefly perpetrated by Concerned Children's Advertisers in public service announcements designed to encourage children to view items in the media with a critical eye.
Deliberate hoaxes, or journalistic fraud, that drew widespread attention include:
- Washington Irving created a hoax about the supposedly missing Diedrich Knickerbocker
- Edgar Allan Poe created a hoax of moon travel in "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall"
- Jayson Blair, reporter for The New York Times
- Janet Cooke, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her fictitious Washington Post story about an eight-year-old heroin addict named Jimmy
- Dark Side of the Moon (documentary) – this French mockumentary "proving" that the Apollo moon landings were hoaxes is itself an admitted hoax
- The Flemish Secession hoax of 2006
- Stephen Glass, reporter for The New Republic
- Fuckart & Pimp a hoax art exhibition at London's Decima gallery, which purported to be the show of a female artist having sex with clients to consummate the sale of her paintings, created a worldwide media scandal but was later revealed to be a hoax.
- The Great Moon Hoax of 1835; Edgar Allan Poe would later claim that this was inspired by his own story "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall," which was published only a few months before
- Great Wall of China hoax of 1899
- Johann Hari, journalist for The Independent, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and other media organisations, who committed acts of plagiarism, fabricated sources and quotes, and posted malicious comments to social media and edits to the Wikipedia biographies of his critics and opponents. Hari was forced to return the Orwell Prize (which he won in 2008) after it was withdrawn by the Orwell Prize Council.
- Jack Kelley, longtime USA Today correspondent
- David Lassman who wrote the 2007 'Rejecting Jane' article, which chronicled Jane Austen's rejection by modern-day publishers
- The New York Zoo hoax of 1874
- Nik Cohn's New York magazine article, "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night", which was the source material for the movie Saturday Night Fever, and which Cohn admitted decades later had been fiction, not reportage
- Konspiration 58 about the soccer world cup of 1958
- David Manning, a fictitious film-critic created by Sony in order to place good quotes on Columbia Pictures' film advertising
- Holocaust teaching controversy of 2007
- Cello Scrotum is a hoax medical condition originally published as a brief case report in the British Medical Journal in 1974.
- San Serriffe, a fictional island nation made the subject of an extensive report created for April Fools' Day 1977 by Britain's Guardian newspaper
- Beale ciphers (alleged location of hidden treasure)
- Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine (alleged location of hidden treasure)
- Oak Island (alleged location of hidden treasure)
- List of fictitious people (people it was claimed really existed – unlike fictional characters).
- Confidence trick
- Literary forgery
- List of common misconceptions
- List of religious hoaxes
- List of scholarly publishing hoaxes
- Plimpton, George (2004). The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. New York, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows. ISBN 1-56858-296-X.
- Clark, Tim (July 22, 2009). "Airport Hoax". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- Mehta, Ankita (2014-08-28). "'Two Moons' Hoax: Absence of Twin Moon on 27 August Disappoints Many". International Business Times. Retrieved 2014-08-31.
- Brown, Dan (2003). The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50420-9.
- Cohn, Norman (1966). Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elder of Zion. New York: Harper & Row..
- "McDonald's issues Twitter denial after hoax poster saying blacks will be charged extra goes viral". Daily Mail. 13 June 2011. Retrieved 18 June 2011.
- "Alien hoax dismays scientists". BBC News. 1998-11-03. Retrieved 2012-05-23.
- Boese, Alex (2002), The Museum of Hoaxes: A Collection of Pranks, Stunts, Deceptions, and Other Wonderful Stories Contrived for the Public from the Middle Ages to the New Millennium, Dutton/Penguin Books, ISBN 0-525-94678-0, OCLC 50115701
- Boese, Alex, Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and other B.S., Harvest Books 2006, ISBN 0-15-603083-7.
- Hamel, Denis (November 2007), "The End of the Einstein-Astrology-Supporter Hoax", Skeptical Inquirer, 31 (6): 39–43
- Hines, Terence (1988), Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: A Critical Examination of the Evidence, Prometheus Books, ISBN 0-87975-419-2, OCLC 17462273
- Moseley, James W.; Pflock, Karl T. (2002), Shockingly Close to the Truth: Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist, Prometheus Books, ISBN 1-57392-991-3
- Curtis Peebles (1994). Watch the Skies: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN 1-56098-343-4.
- Randi, James (1982), Flim-Flam!, Prometheus Books, ISBN 0-87975-198-3, OCLC 9066769