The Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks

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Hoaxes 11 Through 15

This group of five begins with a phony e-mail message promising money and other prizes from Disney, and ends with the classic deaf-to-reason arguments of the Apollo moon landing deniers.

11. Free Vacation Courtesy of Disney (1998)

Dear Goofy... Forward this e-mail chain letter to everybody under the sun and, once 13,000 people have received it, Walt Disney Jr. will send five grand each to 1,300 lucky people on this list. And "the rest will recieve a free trip for two to Disney for one week during the summer of 1999." Is that Disney World, Disneyland--or Walt's house? The "Jr." after Disney, in reference to a nonexistent person, ought to have been the first clue that this was a hoax. And the misspelling of "receive" was the clincher (remember, hoaxters, "i" before "e" except after "c"). Yet people forwarded the message around the world using the time-honored e-mail chain letter adage: I'm sending it to you... just in case it's true.

12. Sunset Over Africa (2003)

The lamps are going on all over Europe--but in England it's sunny.
Now that's a dazzling photo of Africa and Europe, taken right around sunset from the Space Shuttle Columbia. What makes the image especially amazing is that, while London remains in daylight, night has fallen in Italy (a little to the southeast) and the bright lights of Rome, Naples, and Venice are blazing. Too bad
it's a digitally altered photo, most likely layered from multiple satellite images. To see an accurate, computer-generated illustration, check out the World Sunlight Map.

Image courtesy of

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???

14. Real-Time GPS Cell Phone Tracking (2007)

SunSat Satellite Solutions knows where you are.
SunSat Satellite Solutions knows where you are.
Have you heard about the Web site that can track the location of your cell phone in real time? It uses satellite GPS in combination with Google Maps, and it's amazingly accurate (not to mention a disturbing invasion of privacy). Go ahead, check it out yourself by going to the SunSat Satellite Solutions site and tracking your own cell phone's location. Select your country, type in your cell phone number, click the Start Searching button, and wait for it. (This is one of the year's best pranks. And I won't give away the ending.)

15. Apollo Moon Landing Hoax (1969)

If that's the moon, where's the green cheese?
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.

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