The Washington Post has attempted to comprehensively list all April Fools pranks and hoaxes appearing on the internet today, helpfully separated into categories. There's still April Fools Day on the Web (mentioned twice, previously) which has a collection of jokes, spoofs and parodies around the internet, with annual records going back to 2004. For older records, there's a far from complete Wikipedia list of April Fools' Day Jokes, with a slim selection of notable hoaxes going back to the 1950s, while the Wikipedia article on April Fools' Day goes back much further. Snopes breaks down the legends behind the term (previosuly).
A heroin-addicted teen prostitute from West Virginia, 15-year-old JT LeRoy was hailed as the next great American literary star in the late 1990s. Mentored by acclaimed writers and nurtured by a protective throng of celebrities, JT's story was as inspirational as his untaught genius was astonishing. But JT wasn't real; he was an invention of Laura Albert, a woman in her 30's who wrote the books, carried on phone conversations in JT's voice and hired her boyfriend's half-sister to appear in public as JT. After filming JT in the peak of his fame, documentarian Marjorie Sturm continued unraveling the story after Albert's hoax was revealed in 2005. Her film, The Cult of JT LeRoy, is now playing in theaters but Albert, who calls JT's persona performance art, has threatened to sue. [more inside]
Welcome to the Internet crowdfunding, where the cutest, blondest, and most adorable victims of unverifiable woe seek to fund their health care via the largesse of outraged strangers. This isn't uncommon. We've seen the stories about mean things written on receipts, or even fingers in chili. [more inside]
How did Donelle Woolford's work cause Yams Collective (mNSFW) to withdraw from the Whitney Biennial? [more inside]
We have released 7 hoax videos which appear to demonstrate paranormal phenomena. In fact they're all based upon real scientific principles. Over the past few months this hoax footage has been posted all over the internet in an attempt to find out if people would either accept it as genuine or question it in an attempt to discover the real truth. Can you find the hoaxes before we reveal the secret science behind these scams?Ghost on film (4:28)
Psychic Readings (13:07)
Chi energy (4:00)
Ouija board (5:17)
Psi Wheel (3:29)
Alex Boese is interested in hoaxes, as you can tell from his Museum of Hoaxes website (lots previously), but he also enjoys tracking down weird science stories like Evan O'Neill Kane's self-appendectomy and Allan Walker Blair's black widow bite experiment on himself, as collected at the Mad Science Museum online.
The sign language interpreter at the funeral of Nelson Mandela apparently... wasn't. If you thought the strangest thing out of the Nelson Mandela funeral was the byplay between President Obama, the first lady, and the Danish Prime Minister, think again. Deaf advocacy groups, led by the Deaf Federation of South Africa are expressing anger today over the appearance onstage of a supposed sign language interpreter who apparently knew nothing of sign language and was just making nonsense gestures.
As the Jimmy Saville abuse scandal surfaced, an old internet rumour resurfaced with it in the form of a transcript (NB very NSFW text) purporting to be an out-take from a 1999 episode of Have I Got News For You in which Saville featured. But who was behind it and why did it endure? (previously) [more inside]
The Berners Street Hoax - On November 26th, 1810, at 5 o’clock in the morning, a chimney sweep appeared at Mrs. Tottenham’s door.
The year was 1992. Grunge had hit the cultural mainstream, and the New York Times, overdue for a trend piece, printed an article featuring a "Lexicon of Grunge Speak." Their list featured terms such as wack slacks for old ripped jeans, harsh realm for bummer, and bloated, big bag of bloatation for drunk. [more inside]
Fraudulent & hoax manuscripts submitted to academic journals typically present false findings by real authors. This time, however, the paper contains real (and previously unpublished) results... by fake authors. (via retractionwatch) [more inside]
The new Sokal: Serbian academics hoax a scholarly journal into accepting their gag paper. (Scribd copy of paper)
On Wednesday, David Bowie's Facebook page posted an intriguing curio: a trio of videos ostensibly by an obscure '70s soul group known as Milky Edwards & The Chamberlings. The videos show needle-drops of tracks from Starman, a fabulous whole-cloth soul remake of Bowie's seminal 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The only trouble is, the album doesn't (appear to) actually exist. [more inside]
"Every year Playboy releases the ultimate guide to campus life: our infamous party school list. Over the years, it has been brought to our attention that some of our long-standing party picks have a not-so-toast-worthy, rape-ridden side to their campus life. Somewhere in the countless hours we spent tallying up co-eds and scoring beer pong, we lost track of the most essential element of the Playboy lifestyle: sexual pleasure. Rape is kryptonite to sexual pleasure. The two cannot co-exist. For our revised party guide to live up to our founder’s vision, we had to put a new criterion on top. Namely, consent. In other words… A good college party is all about everyone having a good time. Consent is all about everyone having a good time. Rape is only a good time if you’re a rapist. And fuck those people. In our new found light, we proudly present to you Playboy’s 2013 Top Ten Party Commandments, the ultimate guide for a consensual good time." Or did they,
College students across the country conspired to promote consent: the story behind yesterday’s Playboy hoax.[more inside]
The Inside Story Of The Feminists Who Fooled Us Into Thinking Playboy Cared About Consent
Sullivan’s book was a hit. It was the single best-selling book of 1947, ahead of de Beauvoir, ahead of Sartre, ahead of Camus. People wanted to meet him. The press wanted to talk to him. He was also the plaintiff in a civil suit that could carry a heavy fine or even lead to time in jail. He had to appear in court, which was tricky, because Vernon Sullivan didn’t exist. (SLTheAwl)
In 1931, Gladys Maud Cockburn-Lange, presented some amazing photos from her deceased husband's days as an RAF pilot in World War I. They were hailed as "the most vividly realistic of all the air records that came out of the war," as they were taken from a camera that was mounted on the plane (example photos). The photos were published in British newspapers in 1932 and years to come, and bound with the diary of the pilot in the book Death in the Air: The War Diary and Photographs of a Flying Corps Pilot. Except it was all a hoax. [more inside]
Japan Times journalist Mark Schreiber, exposes the Japanese eyeball licking story as the hoax that it was for the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. Sadly, none of the news sites that reported the story pulled their posts and only one site added an addendum after the fact.
The song is a catchy summer jam by British producer Naughty Boy, which topped the charts in the UK and Italy (though got little airplay in the US). The video, shot in Bolivia by British director Ian Pons Jewell, is a little more complicated: for 90% of viewers, it's a pretty obvious (if rather bizarre) urban retelling of the Wizard of Oz. For the rare viewer acquainted with Bolivian folklore, however, the video is a bit more: a retelling of a traditional folktale about a deaf boy with an abusive stepfather who sacrifices himself to stop a demon who rules over silver mines... [more inside]
The Hershberger Award In March of 1973, the National Association of College Basketball Writers awarded The Hershberger Award to the top 15 rookies in the nation. It was never awarded again, and now we know why.
"I called Joe," Stewart remembers, "and asked if he wanted to come to spring training with me. I said, 'The Mets have this pitcher they picked up. They got him pitching in secret, under a big tarp. He has a 168 mile an hour fastball and he plays the French horn and went to Harvard and he was raised in Tibet by Buddhist monks and he pitches with one foot bare and one foot in a boot. And guess what? You're going to be him.'" [more inside]
One hundred years ago, Joe Knowles stripped down to his jockstrap, said goodbye to civilization, and marched off into the woods to prove his survival skills. He was the reality star of his day. For eight weeks, rapt readers followed his adventures in the Boston Post, for whom he was filing stories on birch bark. When he finally staggered out of the wild, looking like a holdover from the Stone Age, he returned home to a hero’s welcome. That’s when things got interesting.
Chris Stokel-Walker of BuzzFeed explains the motivation and technology behind last year's “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” viral video sensation. [Previously]
Four Canadian film students were assigned a project: Create a YouTube hoax video that gets 100,000 views. They got nearly 42 million instead. Here’s the definitive behind-the-meme look at how—and why—their homework snowballed into one of the most popular and rapidly spread videos ever.
"In the 1950s, a DJ named Jean Shepherd hosted a late-night radio show on New York's WOR that was unlike any before or since. On these broadcasts, he delivered dense, cerebral monologues, sprinkled with pop-culture tidbits and vivid stretches of expert storytelling. 'There is no question that we are a tiny, tiny, tiny embattled minority here,' he assured his audience in a typical diatribe. 'Hardly anyone is listening to mankind in all of its silliness, all of its idiocy, all of its trivia, all of its wonder, all of its glory, all of its poor, sad, pitching us into the dark sea of oblivion.' Shepherd's approach was summed up by his catchphrase: a mock-triumphant 'Excelsior!', followed by an immediate, muttered 'you fathead ... '" (via) [more inside]
"Shot October 2012 while driving through Santa Clarita. There were two crafts. After sighting the first I stopped the car and ran into a field for a better look. What happened next was unbelievable." Except the unbelievable thing is that everything was faked, not just the too-real looking UFO, as Wired breaks down the elements in the video. But if you're excited about this video, watch out! ALIENS IN MEXICO !!! And Dominican Republic! More than five years ago! Except, it wasn't real then, either. [more inside]
On January 28th, students and faculty at Haverford College received an email titled "Official Apology to the Undocumented American Community", allegedly written by interim president Joanne Creighton, which promised to "extend the same fair, need-blind admissions consideration to undocumented applicants as is currently granted to documented applicants". The email was a hoax, written by a member of Students for Undocumented Dreams & Decision Equity Now! (aka SUDDEN) to protest the administration's perceived inaction following a student resolution last February which declared "institutional support for undocumented students and applicants." That same month, a fellow SUDDEN member (and a student at Haverford's sister school Bryn Mawr) was arrested for declaring her status as an undocumented American in front of Philadelphia's Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters. The author of the hoax email, himself a Haverford sophomore, defended his actions in an open letter to the community.
Ilana Gershon is a professor currently researching how people use the Internet to break up with their romantic partners, but before that she wrote an anthropological study about "strategic ignorance" in Samoan immigrant communities, all of which is just a complicated way of showing that she's the most unusually qualified person on the Internet to comment on the Manti Te'o hoax. (previously)
Fans of college football know the inspirational story of Manti Te'o - a Mormon Samoan linebacker from Hawaii, Te'o led Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season this year. A Heisman trophy finalist, Te'o overcame great adversity during the season, playing through the deaths of both his grandmother and his girlfriend. Well, except that, according to Deadspin, the whole girlfriend dying thing was actually just a big hoax. She never existed.
On Dec 14th, Gene Rosen found six kids "sitting in a neat semicircle at the end of his driveway. He ran upstairs and grabbed an armful of stuffed animals. He gave those to the children, along with some fruit juice, and sat with them as the two boys described seeing their teacher being shot." Now he's getting phone calls and emails from Sandy Hook Truthers who think that the shooting in Newtown was a government sponsored hoax. [more inside]
Victoria's Secret has a new line of feminist-friendly underwear: PINK ♥s Consent. Except not really -- it's a hoax site created by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. The internet's response has been tremendous.
On Monday October 15th, XperiaBlog wrote about apparent photos of a Sony Nexus X phone found in a Picasa gallery. By the end of the day, The Verge, Gizmodo, TechCrunch and CNET had picked up the story. The next day, the hoaxer revealed how "an individual with no previous worldwide recognition save for a frontpage Reddit post, managed to alter the behavior of people in Russia, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Italy within the course of 24 hours, all from the comfort of my home while exerting next to no effort."
In the late 1970s the UK's Anglia Television ran a respected weekly documentary series: Science Report. But when the show was cancelled in 1977, the producers decided to channel Orson Welles in their final episode. The result was Alternative 3. Over the course of the hour, the audience would learn that a Science Report investigation into the UK "brain drain" had uncovered shocking revelations: man-made pollution had resulted in catastrophic climate change, the Earth would soon be rendered uninhabitable, and a secret American / Soviet joint plan was in place to establish colonies on the Moon and Mars. The show ended with footage of a US/Soviet Mars landing from May 22, 1962. After Alternative 3 aired, thousands of panicked viewers phoned the production company and demanded to know how long they had left to change planets. [more inside]
A drunken parish clerk set it on foot out of revenge, the Methodists have adopted it, and the whole town of London think of nothing else
250 years ago newspapers like The Derby Mercury featured breathless reports on the Cock Lane ghost. Fanny Lynes wouldn't rest until her husband was hanged for having poisoned her, and the story, supported by a Clergyman, led to crowds paying to visit the house. The street outside was sometimes impassable due to the large number of spectators present at the séances until the Lord Mayor of London had to intervene, and he duly appointed a commission to look into the matter. Notables such as Dr Johnson spent a fruitless night next to a coffin before it was revealed that the truth of the matter was more mundane. [more inside]
Donald Crowhurst (1932–1969) was a British businessman and amateur sailor who died while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, a single-handed, round-the-world yacht race. Crowhurst had entered the race in hopes of winning a cash prize from The Sunday Times to aid his failing business. Instead, he encountered difficulty early in the voyage, and secretly abandoned the race while reporting false positions, in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually circling the world. Evidence found after his disappearance indicates that this attempt ended in insanity and suicide. (previously: 1, 2)
"Sybil Exposed": Memory, Lies and Therapy. Debbie Nathan's new book explains why "Sybil" probably did not have multiple personalities [nytimes link]. Did Dr. Cornelia Wilbur inadvertently create the condition she had intended to treat?
Video footage of the legendary Doctor Fox lecture. "The lecture that Myron L. Fox delivered to the assembled experts had an impressive enough title: 'Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education'. Those responsible for running the University of Southern California School of Medicine's psychiatry department's continuing education programme had taken themselves off to Lake Tahoe in northern California for their annual conference and a continuing education program. There, Fox - who was billed as an 'authority on the application of mathematics to human behaviour' - presented the first paper. His polished performance so impressed the audience of psychiatrists, family doctors and general internists that nobody noticed that the man standing at the lectern wasn't really Myron L. Fox from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine but Michael Fox a movie actor who though having considerable experience in playing doctors in TV shows didn't know the first thing about game theory." [Via]
The Observer ran a series of columns by Richard Geefe, a writer whose work was interrupted by his promise to himself and his editors that he would kill himself before the end of November 1999. First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and the posthumous twelfth. Reaction in The Independent. [more inside]
Ten years later, one of the greatest mysteries arising from 9/11 has been solved: the guy who faked the 'tourist guy atop the WTC while the plane approaches' picture has come forward.
A very Victorian hoax! Greyfriars Bobby who kept vigil over his master's grave for 14 years was 'a publicity stunt'
“Does anyone have confirmation that Osama was watching The IT Crowd in these home movies? Amazing if true. Don't know how to feel.” —@Glinner [more inside]
Coal cares! "Puff-Puff™ inhalers are available free to any family living within 200 miles of a coal plant, and each inhaler comes with a $10 coupon towards the cost of the asthma medication itself." [more inside]
The Yes Men pull one over on the AP, by convincing them that GE was going to donate their 3.2 billion dollar tax credit in response to public anger over the fact that they pay no taxes.
"There's confusion about where the line lies between being a bad person and being ill. Someone who's doing this, I'm afraid, could be both." The Guardian discusses 'Munchausen by Internet'. [more inside]
After Nokia announced its strategic partnership with Microsoft (here), howls of protest came from various directions, with the one getting the most attention being 'nine young investors' proposing a 'Plan B'. But wait... [more inside]