Motives of Hoaxes

This week in class, while discussing different hoaxes, I noticed something. It seems simple really, but every hoax has a meaning behind it, however small. People put effort into making them work for a reason.

So far I’ve concocted a small list of the motives I’ve seen- I’m sure there are thousands of more examples than I’m mentioning, but hey, it’s late.

1. Financial- P. T. Barnum. ‘Nuff said.

2. Political- There’s a lot of these- for example, the miscegenation hoax in the 1800s circulated a pamphlet proposing procreation between the races, supposedly written by a Republican abolitionist. It was later discovered that a couple of Democratic newsmen had written the “inflammatory” pamphlet to insert the issue into the presidential election and stir up the working-class public against the Republicans. The Democrats lost the election anyways. Also, the Chesterfield Cigarettes Leper rumor was possibly started by anti-smoking advocates trying to discourage people from lighting up.

3. Educational/experimental- For example, the Casablanca Hoax wherein the hoaxer sent copies of movie classic Casablanca out to over 200 movie agents with just the title and author’s name changed. The results were…interesting, to say the least.

4. For the Fun of it. Roswell- what other reason could there be for it? So many included in here.

See y’all in class!

Rachael Dickson