Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Hoaxes that can get you fired…

Friday, September 5th, 2008

One of the issues we’ll have to wrestle with this semester is where is the line between funny and not funny, between an excellent joke and an unethical or immoral act, between something that won’t get us into trouble and something that will. By way of cautionary tales, here are two examples of hoaxes that could get you in trouble:

The most recent Bigfoot Hoax.

Congressional Candidate Fakes Wildnerness Survival

In the Bigfoot example, the problem is that one of the hoaxer was a sheriff’s deputy and so, as an officer of the court, needed to be above suspicions of being a lier. We’ll see if his bosses can take a joke or not. In the case of Gary Dodds, the problem was that the search and rescue effort mounted to find him after he disappeared in a snow squall cost close to $20,000, so he effectively defrauded the state of New Hampshire (and so went to jail). Oops.

And for those of you who are die hard Bigfoot fans (you know you are), a neighbor of mine in Manassas recently made an incredibly campy movie starring a Bigfoot with a bad attitude who disrupts some college students’ plans for a weekend of beer and other things in a mountain cabin. If you want to watch a movie that is an example of what can be done with a $30,000 budget (he actually sold it to a distributor for a profit…no kidding), then check out Holler Creek Canyon. It’s bad, but if you’re a Bigfoot fan, how can you pass it up? Just don’t buy a copy. You’d be sorry. [Trailer]

Motives of Hoaxes

Friday, September 5th, 2008

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

Well Hello

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Okay so after many technical difficulties, most of which were probably user error as computers and I don’t tend to get along, I have been able to get on here.  So now, hopefully with no user error, I will be able to write.  This isn’t my first time blogging, as I took a class with Mills before, and I have taken other classes that required blogs.

I do have a question though; if we even mention our project on here and someone googles it, won’t it come up as one of the hits?  I know that when I google my name my blogs from other classes come up.  While I know secrecy is a crutial part of this project, how are we going to overcome that to work on here without getting caught?  I know that its probably going to be something as simple as we aren’t going to use the blog during that part of the semester but I still wanted to know.

YouTube Hoaxes

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Here are links to the YouTube Hoaxes I mentioned in class yesterday:

Little Loca

Lonely Girl — and a Wired magazine story on Lonely Girl.

As with every hoax we’ve discussed so far, why do you think these two worked so well?

Other People’s Hoax Ideas

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Word about our course is wandering around the history blogosphere and has resulted in some suggestions for further study from other historians:

Five Hoaxes that Fooled the World

Six More Hoaxes that Fooled the World

Some of these are in our other readings, but not all…


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I am looking forward to working with you all this semester. Time to put that ‘thinking cap’ to work. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Hello, this is to make sure this blog things works and all. See you in class

Google Hoaxes

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Hi all. I hope you had a great weekend. Here is a link to the Wikipedia page that details Google’s various hoaxes over the years. Some of these turned into real news events and so can be instructive for us. See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Hey everyone! Looking forward to getting to know all of you. Scott you make a really good point about mythbusters…great show…but we should definitely be careful about our selection.

See everyone in class :)



Monday, September 1st, 2008

Hello Everyone.