The Net's Most Heinous Hoaxes
Bigfoot is alive--okay, actually he's dead, and he's in a freezer in Georgia. At least, that's what The New York Times and other major news outlets reported on August 14, 2008.
In the finest "made you look" tradition, two men from Georgia announced that they had found the body of Bigfoot and would present definitive proof (in the form of photographs and DNA) that Bigfoot existed. In fact, they revealed, they saw three other Bigfoots in the woods as they were dragging the dead beast's body back to their car--possible evidence that these creatures had mastered the intricacies of contract bridge but had not yet learned to control their tempers over botched bidding. Quasi-expert Tom Biscardi, an inveterate promoter of all things Bigfoot (and perpetrator of his own Bigfoot hoax just three years prior), vouched for the men.
How bad is this? Not surprisingly, the body turned out to be a costume stuffed in a freezer. But an Indiana man fronted $50,000 on behalf of Biscardi for the "body," and is now suing the pair of hoaxers to get his money back. The most heinous part of this hoax is the fact that someone actually fell for it.
Changing the Value of Pi
On April Fool's Day 1998, Mark Boslough wrote a fictional piece about Alabama legislators calling on the state government to pass a law that would change the value of pi from 3.14159... to the "Biblical value" of 3. Boslough's titled his article "Alabama Legislature Lays Siege to Pi."
Though the piece was originally posted to a newsgroup, it ended up being forwarded...and forwarded...and forwarded...
Alabama legislators began receiving letters from outraged scientists and civilians, but that's about as dangerous as the situation got. The funniest part of the hoax? It echoes an actual event: In 1897, the Indiana House of Representatives passed a resolution to change the value of pi to 3--luckily, irrationality prevailed and the bill died in the State Senate.
Taking a cue from Bonsai Kitten, a site called Save Toby used a creepy premise to throw animal rights activists into a tizzy.
The Save Toby saga began in the early days of 2005, when the site announced that its owners had found a wounded rabbit (which they named Toby) and nursed it back to health--but then declared that if they did not receive $50,000 in donations for the care of Toby by July 30, 2005, they would be forced to cook and eat the rabbit.
The owners asserted that the site was not a hoax: They would, indeed, cook and eat Toby if they did not receive the money. Animal rights activists cried "animal cruelty," to which the owners responded that they were doing nothing cruel to Toby--in fact, they were trying to save him. Supposedly, the site collected more than $24,000 before Bored.com bought it, and Toby was saved. (By the way, possible inspirations from pre-Internet days for the Save Toby hoaxers aren't hard to find.) But holding a bunny hostage for ransom? Real classy, fellas.