Are You Ready For April Fool's Day?
March 30, 2002 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Are You Ready For April Fool's Day? Better read the Museum of Hoaxes's March Newsletter to find out. Certain pranks are already in progress, while other recent hoaxes - of which at least one was seriously discussed here on MetaFilter - remain fresh in our minds. Real aficionados and sleuths, of course, will head straight for the hoax websites pages, where some seem too good - or too awful - not to be true. In Southern Europe, April Fool's Day is known as Liars' Day and everyone is entitled - nay, compelled! - to invent at least one big whopper. Any ideas?
posted by MiguelCardoso (35 comments total)
I lie all the time.
posted by noisemartyr at 9:26 PM on March 30, 2002

I never lie.
Top that!
posted by StOne at 9:32 PM on March 30, 2002

I alternate between lying and telling the truth.
posted by yhbc at 9:36 PM on March 30, 2002

No I don't.
posted by yhbc at 9:36 PM on March 30, 2002

In Southern Europe, April Fool's Day is known as Liars' Day and everyone is entitled - nay, compelled! - to invent at least one big whopper. Any ideas?

You're on an island.

There are only two other people besides you on the island, one who only speaks the truth, and one who only tells lies.

You come upon a fork on a road, one way which leads you to the beach, and the other way which leads you to the swamp filled with alligators.

If you are allowed to ask only one question to the two natives, and you have no idea which one is the liar and which one is the honest person, what one questin would you ask both of them to get to the beach?
posted by Rastafari at 9:36 PM on March 30, 2002

"What would the other fellow say if I asked him the way to the beach?"
posted by yhbc at 9:41 PM on March 30, 2002

Miguel, as a transplanted Okie, I love the first page listed on the hoax websites - but at least they fess up

All right, yes, I admit it, I'm from Oklahoma. feel free to start consoling me on their loss to Indiana. Grr, snarl.
posted by yhbc at 9:47 PM on March 30, 2002

Rastafari, I'd ask each one: "If I forced you to say the opposite of what you know to be the truth, would you give me a different answer to what you'd normally say?" the truth-teller would say "yes" and the liar would have to say "no". I know this has something to do with the Cretan liar puzzle but I can't remember the answer. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:52 PM on March 30, 2002

Sorry, the Cretan liars paradox is another matter altogether. Though quite appropriate, all the same.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:58 PM on March 30, 2002

umm... but, Miguel, my question would do the same. The liar would say "he (the truth-teller) would tell you that way (to the crocs)", so I'd know to go the other way. The truth-teller would say "he (the liar) would tell you that way (also to the crocs)", so again I'd know to go the other way.
posted by yhbc at 10:00 PM on March 30, 2002

Ah, here's the Liar Puzzle you were referring to, Rastafari. Sorry for hogging the microphone, everyone else.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:01 PM on March 30, 2002

he-LO-o. *tap tap tap* Is this thing on?
posted by yhbc at 10:03 PM on March 30, 2002

But Commissioner - that assumes that the truth-teller and liar know each other, and know each other's attitudes towards the truth. Rastafari wasn't kind enough to let us have that extra help.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:05 PM on March 30, 2002

It's an island. They're the only two natives there. If we have no problem with assuming that one only and always tells the truth and one only and always lies, I also have no problem with assuming that they know about each other's peculiar proclivities.
posted by yhbc at 10:10 PM on March 30, 2002

To get back on topic (somewhat), no "whopper" will in my mind ever top Burger King's actual announcement of the Left-Handed Whopper. That was a classic, and fooled many.

(also sorry for hogging the mike)
posted by yhbc at 10:15 PM on March 30, 2002

It has nothing to do with what we have problems with, yhbc. It is a given that one always lies and the other never does. That's what we have to work with. Anything else, i.e. all assumptions, are disallowed. You might as well assume it's a tropical island or that one of them stutters. :) Now I really am going to retire,!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:16 PM on March 30, 2002

At some point, we should really just credit this whole conversation to Martin Gardner.
In the meanwhile, here's another:
A woman had brought her baby to the riverside, while she did the laundry. While so engaged, a crocodile crept from the river and snatched the baby in its powerful jaws. The woman screamed and begged for mercy, but the crocodile only chuckled and said "Will I eat your baby? Answer correctly, and I'll give the baby back to you unharmed."

What should the woman say?
posted by yhbc at 10:37 PM on March 30, 2002

If she says no, the croc eats the baby since she didn't answer correctly, and if she says yes, then why would the croc give the baby back? So that's what she should say!
posted by Rastafari at 10:51 PM on March 30, 2002

Or she could say, no, you won't eat MY baby since that's not my baby if you were to eat it. The croc would be impressed with that logic, and give the baby back.
posted by Rastafari at 10:55 PM on March 30, 2002

Are you going to tell us, yhbc, or am I going to be guessing here all night?
posted by Rastafari at 10:57 PM on March 30, 2002

Whoops, sorry. You were right the first time. If she says "yes, you're going to eat my baby", the croc can't eat it because then she would have answered correctly, and under the rules he gave, he would have to have given the baby back.
posted by yhbc at 11:00 PM on March 30, 2002

Back to hoaxes.

You're right, Miguel, the page of hoax websites is definitely the meat of the matter here. I love this stuff! I'm still not conviced that all of the sites listed are really phony - going to have to check them out more thoroughly. I'd never heard of the despair hoax (a good one), but many times in the past I've come across a man in a newsgroup who ends all of his messages with this emoticon:


followed by a trademark symbol. He's threatened to sue anyone who uses it, because, as he always says, "I've been online since 1990, and I was the first to use it" ( I always imagine him sounding like Squidward when he says this). I hope he doesn't read metafilter, or I'm screwed.
posted by iconomy at 12:34 AM on March 31, 2002

My favorite hoax is the USDA Food Pyramid, but they still won't give up the lie.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:47 AM on March 31, 2002

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest deserves its place at Number One in the Top Ten April Fools, not least because a significant proportion of the British population still believed it grew on trees as late as the 1980's.

Our food has improved since then... no, seriously, it has....
posted by barnsoir at 5:27 AM on March 31, 2002

miguel: your original answer has the problem that, although it may reveal who is the liar and who is telling the truth, you've expended your question and still don't have a direction as an answer...
posted by juv3nal at 5:32 AM on March 31, 2002

I remember a music hoax going around the music zines a few years back concerning a band called Thorpe, who supposedly based all their songs upon the teachings of Coach Ken Howard from The White Shadow. They were also said to perform in Carver High basketball uniforms. Being a big fan of the show, I was actually sorta bummed when I read it was a hoax.
posted by jonmc at 7:28 AM on March 31, 2002

Ken Reeves, dammit. Ken Howard was the actor who played him. I just know some TV obsessive would fire up his keyboard to correct me, so I'm making a pre-emptive strike.
posted by jonmc at 7:57 AM on March 31, 2002

I perpetrated/initiated two of the better-known Usenet hoaxes back in the day, the Jan. 26, 1991 episode of "Twin Peaks" hoax and the "Suicide Squid" hoax. Yay me!
posted by rodii at 8:09 AM on March 31, 2002

Every year, I post a message to a baseball mailing list that I moderate. I make it about an AP newsflash of some sort of (semi-)reasonable blockbuster trade. To make sure that there is always a giveaway for the careful reader, I usually include minor league players in the deal, and one of them is always Lirpa Loof or G. Otcha.

I always sucker in a few people who read the email before their morning coffee.
posted by Grum at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2002

All Portuguese are rude and taciturn grouches.
posted by y2karl at 9:25 AM on March 31, 2002

I need an idea for my April Fool's Day column tomorrow and I'm all out of inspiration. It has to be something believable and, I think, something my readers will want to believe.

It's difficult! I know it's not done, but if anyone has an spare idea for a good hoax, preferably something involving the Internet with a link that would seem to support it, I would dedicate it to the angel who suggested it. Help?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:55 PM on March 31, 2002

You could always Sell the Internet . A classic, I got to watch it unfold when it was released on Silicon Investor. These same people were behind
Other fun sites are- Ban the Balm,The Museum of Jurassic Technology which is a real museum and I highly recommend a visit.
posted by pekar wood at 6:32 PM on March 31, 2002

Oh Hell, Webnode & Funphone are already linked to on the hoax website page. Sorry, guess it's bedtime for pekar...
posted by pekar wood at 7:05 PM on March 31, 2002

Miguel, there were supposedly two fellows who convinced a gullible, largely immigrant population that their labor was required to saw Manhattan in half, turn it around, and reattach it, so the weight of the big buildings at the bottom end didn't sink the island. The story that's told may have not been absolutely true, but is this a (sorry) jumping-off point for you? Has Portugal joined the euro? If not, can you put out a bona-fide sounding strory about sawing off the country, to separate it from the rest of Europe? If it has, how about another European country that hasn't accepted the euro?
posted by yhbc at 7:14 PM on March 31, 2002

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