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Museum Of Hoaxes Paperback – Oct 28 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (Oct. 17 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452284651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452284654
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,300,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Boese, the "curator" of, here collects some of the more fascinating hoaxes from medieval times to the dot-com era. After an initial "gullibility test," designed to show how hard it can be to detect actual hoaxes, Boese organizes his entries chronologically, arguing that hoaxing styles and subjects reflect an era's overall mood. Thus, in pre-modern times, the "concept of truth" was treated "allegorically and spiritually," so hoaxes (such as Sir John Mandeville's fantastical beasts) were not as scientifically involved as our modern frauds (Rorvik's 1978 cloning of a man or the 1999 Piltdown Chicken). Happily, Boese minimizes his theorizing, letting readers just have fun browsing through a few centuries of human trickery. While most of these hoaxes are entertaining (England's Mary Toft, who in 1726 "began to give birth to rabbits" or the South Seas fatu-liva bird that laid square eggs "which remarkably resembled dice"), a handful are disturbing (the 1987 Tawana Brawley case, involving an unsubstantiated act of racial hatred) or even deadly (e.g., the case of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which was used to justify anti-Semitism). While short accounts of a variety of hoaxes won't satisfy aficionados, the general public may find it useful to know how some familiar hoaxes e.g., the Loch Ness monster were unmasked, and Boese's "suggested reading" list will help intrigued readers dig deeper. Photos and illus.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Times may change, and conventional wisdom may evolve and mature, but one thing people never seem to grow out of is the desire to put one over on unsuspecting victims. Boese's Museum of Hoaxes is an amusing catalog of tricks, pranks, publicity stunts, and outright scams that people have played on each other over the years. From fossils that contradicted accepted science, to the woman who gave birth to rabbits (guess how that trick worked), to newspaper reports of life on the moon, Boese describes each trick's appearance, how the perpetrators did it, and its effect on the general public. The book is organized by time period; each chapter begins with an introduction that puts the hoaxes into context, explaining what was believed possible at the time--a helpful inclusion, since many will seem like obvious frauds to modern readers. Whether it is picked for cover-to-cover reading or occasional browsing, readers are sure to find many laughs. Gavin Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is basically a well-organized laundry list of hoaxes. The author arranges hoaxes in logical categories based on the type of deception involved. Some, especially those from further in the past, sound preposterous, but one must always account for the differences in knowledge and thought processes between times past and now. What was most disturbing to me is the fact that some of the hoaxes sounded plausible; it makes you wonder how many pieces of knowledge we take for granted might be well-contrived hoaxes. Conspiracy theorists take THAT attitude to the extreme, seeing hoaxes everywhere. But hoaxes are most prevalent when it is hard to get independent supporting data about a topic, which this book points out. For instance, if a white fellow turned up in Europe and claimed to be a Taiwanese native, we would laugh at him. But a white fellow did turn up in Europe several centuries ago, claiming to be a native of Formosa (Taiwan's former name). Without additional information (that Taiwanese are Asians), the people of Europe were unable to quickly discount the story.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit to being simultaneously disappointed and entertained by Alex Boese's The Museum of Hoaxes. While Boese certainly has researched many pranks, stunts and deceptions and writes in a breezy style, I kept wishing for more information about the hoaxes he reports (not more hoaxes, of which there are plenty). Had I come across this book in a brick-and-mortar store, I probably would not have bought it; and I have to admit that the Amazon reviewer does comment about the lack of detail. For example, the section on The Great Chess Automaton is only two rather small pages long, with no pictures. Look on James Randi's (the Amazing Randi) website for the James Randi Educational Fountation, dedicated to debunking hoaxes, physics, and the like, and you'll find two commentaries dedicated to the same topic, with several drawings which make the hoax perfectly clear. Randi's account is much more engaging, as its detail brings the story to life. Boese discusses the Loch Ness Monster and the "surgeon's photo"--but doesn't include the photo itself. The book makes good light reading, and perhaps it's greatest good is as a testiment to the fact that the media is less in the news and education business than in the entertainment business, a case which Randi also makes repeatedly. You'll probably encounter a few stories you've heard before and not realised were hoaxes or outright frauds, such as the sightings of sea monsters by the passenger ship Mauretania--a report first published in the New York Times and repeated ad infinitum in books on Cryptozoology and Fortean Phenomena, but which has entirely no basis in fact.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
So are you one of those many people, like I was, who believed the old rumor about subliminal advertising? You know, the one where a group of researchers added a few clever lines like "Hungry? Candy and Popcorn at the Concession" to be flashed during a movie so quickly the conscious mind missed it but the subconscious caught it and the concession stand sold 50% more candy and popcorn. I believed it quite completely for many years, until Alex Boese, our esteemed curator for this Museum of Hoaxes, informed me it was complete hooey. Turns out a researcher did indeed claim to do this and it caused quite a stir 40 years ago, but when scientific colleagues pressed him to reproduce this effect in a more controlled setting, he could not. And, to this day, the receipt of subliminal messages remains unproven.
Interesting stuff, isn't it? You'll be surprised at all the things you thought you knew. Its well written and a page turner, in fact, I tore through this book in less than a day, I simply could not put it down, much to the annoyance of my pretty wife.
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Format: Hardcover
Curator and author Alex Boese has the wide-eyed passion for discovering the curiosities in life and the scientific skepticism for finding the truth.
Amazing, unusual tales from supermarket tabloids, television, and comic books thrilled you, as a naïve kid. You lacked experience in life and failed to recognize the motives of others. As you grew wiser, you learned to hunt for the misinformation that separates what is real and what is not real, especially when you became a fraud examiner. The thrill and the hunt are well preserved and on exhibit in The Museum of Hoaxes.
Have you ever been fooled on April 1st? Do you know the name of the first female Pope? Did you ever hear a jackalope sing or a carrot whistle? Do you believe everything you read? Take the clever Gullibility Test before you start the museum tour.
Mankind has been deceived for centuries. The museum displays sensational hoaxes chronologically to offer an entertaining history of lies even your kids will like. Curator Boese explains how outrageous hoaxes attract attention and shape public opinions about democracy, religion, science, and business.
What you already know about many topics may not be the truth. Imaginative hoaxes involved Marco Polo, Benjamin Franklin, men on the moon, and Microsoft. Even Cassie Chadwick and Charles Ponzi, two "Frankensteins of Fraud," are immortalized in the museum. Find out how penny papers and Web sites caused financial disasters.
After you devour the book, explore the museum's Web site at ... . New exhibits are added daily. Enjoy the BBC broadcast of Swiss workers harvesting the pasta crop from spaghetti trees.
Established in 1997, The Museum of Hoaxes in San Diego attracts a million visitors a month. You'll want to visit more than once, and tell your friends.
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