Some folks put so much effort into a hoax that you kind of have to admire their- what? This article isn't about them? This is about the folks who clearly weren't even trying, yet still managed to fool everybody? Oh. Well, here are a bunch of lazy (yet shockingly successful) hoaxes, which are either a testament to the power of human imagination or proof that we're all doomed. Or both! Could easily be both.
In 2008, two "Bigfoot-hunting hobbyists" from Georgia organized a press conference to announce that they had accomplished what thousands of wide-eyed, bewhiskered faithful could not. They had murdered themselves a genuine Bigfoot. Here it is:
Searching For Bigfoot, Inc.
To the untrained eye, that may look like nothing more than a rubber monkey suit, but ask a professional -- a professional costume retailer, that is -- and you'll learn it's actually a rubber Sasquatch suit (confirmed to be part of the inventory at thehorrordome.com) that had been stuffed with possum guts and "slaughterhouse leftovers," then frozen. Naturally, such a flimsy tale only merited mention in obscure rags, such as ... uh, CNN, The New York Times, The Independent, and Fox News.
To reiterate, two random yokels filled a rubber suit with roadkill, and that somehow made them worthy of international coverage.
Only a few years after admitting to the hoax, one half of the duo (a former corrections officer named Rick Dyer) resurfaced with a brand-new claim that he, no kidding, for-realsies this time, had caught a legit Bigfoot. He accomplished this by "using pork ribs from Wal-Mart doused in his special BBQ sauce" and "covered in deer piss," which is prime Bigfoot grub, we guess?
Dyer's feat merited mention in outlets like Time, The New York Daily News, and of course, Fox News. But to way too many people's surprise, it was again not a Gigantopithecus specimen, but a prop made up of latex, foam, and camel hair. It was about as convincing as a standee in a county fair haunted house, but this didn't stop Dyer from touring the country with the thing and charging people for gawking privileges. If you laughed at how much of a maroon this guy must be, you'll be less than pleased to know that this gambit would eventually rake in $500,000.
A few years ago, an Australian politician called Vegemite a "precursor to misery," and he wasn't talking about your toilet the day after. See, the foul-tasting food spread contains yeast, and the Australian media claimed that people in certain communities were buying it in bulk and turning it into moonshine in their bathtubs. Children were skipping school because they were "too hung-over from all-night benders." Husbands were beating their wives, fueled by Vegemite rage.
Both the BBC and Time ran with the story, and the aforementioned politician called for limits on the sale of the product. It sounds bizarre, but why would anyone make up something like this? Oh, did we mention that the politician was Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, those "certain communities" all consisted of Aboriginal people, and Australia is still racist as hell?
Scullion said he'd seen the impact of Vegemite moonshine "first-hand" -- which is odd, because it's not feasible to make alcohol out of Vegemite. It does contain yeast, but it's rendered inactive during the heating process used in the spread's production. Theoretically, you can make alcohol out of any food containing sugar, but you'd still need to add brewer's yeast, and no one is suggesting a ban on fruit. It seems nobody checked the basic science behind the story before reporting it. But we can't expect the BBC to have the same standards as literally any random beer forum, can we?
Kremlin-controlled Channel One TV slipped a blatant clip from the video game ARMA 3 into a report about the war in Syria. If only Russia had some experience with warfare, maybe they could have avoided this misstep ...
Then in 2017, the Russian Ministry of Defense tweeted what they called "irrefutable evidence" that the United States was aiding ISIS. Turns out they were fooled by the most realistic kind of digital simulation there is: a mobile game. A U.S. spokesman responded that this was "pretty consistent with what we have seen come out of Russian MoD, as being baseless, inaccurate and you know, completely false."
"We also have footage of American agents Mario and Luigi committing atrocities on a Goomba village."
Then there's that time British network ITV claimed they were airing a video of the IRA taking down a helicopter, when it was obvious to anyone under 45 that it was all from a video game -- in this case, ARMA 2. At least it took the third ARMA to fool Russia.
Then there's this footage, aired on Iranian TV, of a Hezbollah sniper killing six ISIS soldiers. Said sniper turned out to be a random guy on YouTube wiping out most of the Medal Of Honor player base.
Back in 2015, Stephen Roseman posted a photo of a dog with a piece of ham on its face to Facebook, and wrote the following caption: "This poor dog was badly burned and disfigured trying to save his family from a house fire." He further added that one "like" would equal one prayer, and one share would equal ten prayers. This is the prayer economy, we all know this.
Impressive that it made its way through the burning house when it couldn't see shit.
It was an extremely low-effort troll from Roseman, who didn't even take the photo himself. He probably expected to get a few laughing face emojis, maybe some confused questions from elderly relatives. But then people started sharing the photo in earnest, and they didn't stop. Within a week, the image had been shared more than 116,000 times and received 61,000 "likes." Using Mr. Roseman's math, that amounts to over a million prayers.
Roseman ultimately copped to the hoax, called everybody who fell for it "idiots," then also mocked anyone who didn't fall for it by clarifying that he doesn't "give a fuck either way." Ladies and gentlemen, the internet.
Every time a royal couple does anything of a couple nature, a time portal is opened straight to the 18th century and this guy steps out to announce it to the world:
Karen Roe / Wikimedia Commons
American media outlets assume that he must be England's legitimate royal crier, because, well, that really sounds like something England would have, right? But there's nothing official about him. His name is Tony Appleton, and he simply wants to celebrate his totally self-sponsored love for the crown by attending events as this made-up character and shouting at people.
When Prince William's kid was born in 2013, MSNBC, Anderson Cooper, and Fox News all treated this weird hat-wearing guy and his shouty nonsense as if he were the real deal. They were shamed for it by serious British history magazine People, and everyone learned their lesson ... until 2017, when Appleton "announced" Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle. He learned about it through a mysterious British ritual called "the news."
We can't wait to see who falls for it when he announces the Queen's passing, assuming he's still alive in 2095.
Back in 2013, a website called Weird Whitstable posted a picture of what appeared to be an impossibly gigantic crab chilling by a British pier. It looked like this:
Bing Maps, Quinton Winter
Bing Maps, Quinton Winter
Despite the fact that the source was some random '90s-looking website about "ghost" photos and the like, or that the exact same image of the pier (sans mutant crab) can be found on Bing Maps, or that this is all incredibly stupid, the picture soon went viral. First it was picked up by The Sunday Express, where the site's owner explained that he got the photo from a fan, but coincidentally, he too had previously seen that very same crab without ever telling anyone about it. Right, because that's not something that would plague every conscious moment of a man's mind until the time of his probably crab-related death.
The story then spread to The Daily Mail family of printed toilet paper brands, and from there to quasi-reputable outlets like The Huffington Post and various morning shows. Meanwhile, yet another giant crab photo was found:
The Independent decided to ask some scientists about the possibility of the photo being real. It turns out that 1) that type of crab grows no larger than 11 inches, and 2) crab experts must get paid really poorly if they showed up for this gig.
The site's owner eventually admitted to Photoshopping the pictures and posting them for fun, without ever thinking that anyone could be dumb enough to believe in something like that. It seems this man, despite running his very own website, had never heard of the internet before.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Michael Guzniczak is a writer, actor, improviser and recovering lawyer living in Los Angeles. If you'd like to confuse him as much as the rest of Twitter does, feel free to follow @MJGuzniczak.
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