Friday, May 04, 2007

The Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks

Here is a fun article by Steve Bass at Yahoo News. It is titled The Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks. I enjoyed it and many of these are of interest to the history blogosphere. How many non-internet hoaxes from a Millenia or more ago are now the source of serious dissertations?

Take a look at a few highlights. All text below is by the original author.

13. Alien Autopsy at Roswell, New Mexico (1995)

Roswell, New Mexico: ground zero of UFO controversy. It's also where the movie of the Roswell alien autopsy was filmed 60 years ago. The story goes that a UFO crashed at this site, and the U.S. government performed a hush-hush autopsy on the dead alien.In the mid-1990s, unnamed individuals "discovered" the secret film and posted it for the edification of a disinformed public. Looks pretty real, right? Now fast-forward to 2006 and a conspiracy-deflating admission: The movie is a hoax created in 1995 by John Humphreys, the animator famous for Max Headroom, in his apartment in north London....Or was it???

15. Apollo Moon Landing Hoax (1969)

You're aware that we never landed on the moon, right? It was all just an elaborate hoax designed to score Cold War points for the United States against the Soviet Union in a world of falling dominoes. The whole lunar landing thing? It was a video staged at movie studios and top-secret locations.

Okay, you can stop laughing now, but some sites, such as Apollo Reality and Moon Landing, still insist that the Eagle never landed. Of course, enemies of Flat Earthism will point to the Rocket and Space Technology site, which does an in-depth job of debunking the hoax. But true disbelievers should check out this terrific video spoof, complete with outtakes showing lights and cameras.

21. Microsoft Buys Catholic Church (1994)

More than a decade ago, an e-mail press release--from Vatican City, no less--landed in my inbox. Microsoft was announcing that it was in the process of acquiring the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for an unspecified number of shares of Microsoft common stock. The story was a prank, but it sure looked real, circulating for months and perhaps worrying residents of the Holy See.

Just think: If the press release had been true, it might have stopped the Vatican from using Linux. And no, I'm not kidding about the Linux part. Watch this video interview with the woman who helped build the Vatican's Web site.

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