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Hoaxes, hoaxes, and more hoaxes that people actually believed.

Weird hoaxes, unbelievable hoaxes, and strange hoaxes that you won't believe anyone bought.

The List Show is a weekly show hosted by John Green, where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John looks at some of history's greatest hoaxes including "Balloon Boy" (the boy, by the way is now in a metal band), "Lonelygirl15" and "War of the Worlds" (you didn't think we could do an episode on hoaxes and NOT include it, did you?).

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Images and Footage provided by Shutterstock:

Artist acknowledgements for this episode:
Ron Swanson & Kill Bill prints by Sarah Yakawonis,
Captain America sheild by Zachariah Perry,
My Drunk Kitchen spatulogo, Zelda heart containers, CGP Grey logo felt textile artwork by Danica Johnson,

Circus Sideshow Nesting Dolls, Gravlax,
8 bit perler bouquets, Geekapalooza,
Hank & John, Sherlock & Watson wooden dolls, Kimmy Fiorentino,

Hi, I'm John Green, welcome to my salon - hey there, Ron Swanson - this is mental_floss, and we're going to start this week with a popular psychological test - Mark is making me nervous, because he has an ax. 1. Okay, while at her mother's funeral, a girl meets a guy whom she doesn't know; she falls in love with the guy on the spot, and then a few days later, that girls kills her own sister. What is her motive for killing her sister? If you answered that she was hoping that guy would appear at her sister's funeral, you think like a psychopath, as proven by a genuine psychological test conducted by a famous psychologist - is the first of many hoaxes that I am going to prove wrong today. [intro music] 2. In 1995, Fox Television played a film featuring the dismantling of an alien corpse whose UFO had allegedly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The culprit was Ray Santilli, an English filmmaker whose false footage was the basis of Fox's extraordinarily popular broadcast. Later, Santilli and his partner fessed up that their footage was merely a "re-enactment" of a real alien autopsy, which they didn't capture on camera, because, you know, reasons. 3. So pretty much all of us vloggers here on the Internet owe a lot to a fake, homeschooled teenage girl video blogger, whose family just happened to be members of a murderous cult. Lonelygirl15 blew up in 2006, quickly gaining over 100,000 YouTube subscribers, which back then was a lot, but a sting operation by some of her fans - including me, not to brag - revealed a connection between the project and a talent agency in Hollywood. It turns out that Brie was a 20-year-old actress named Jessica Rose. I was just bragging to everyone about my central role in uncovering lonelygirl15; in fact, my only role in uncovering lonegirl15 was that I was part of the community that uncovered her, but at every turn, I urged people to go in what turned out to be the wrong direction. I was also convinced that her family actually was... part of a murderous cult, and that she was not an actress, and... it's all very embarrassing now. 4. In 1869, a 10-foot-tall stone man was uncovered while workers were digging a well in Cardiff, New York. The owner of the New York farm, William Newell, started charging tourists $.50 apiece to view this giant, which was later discovered as a hoax, orchestrated by... George Hull. Hull had created the false giant as a tongue-in-cheek prank after getting into an argument with a Methodist on whether Genesis's claims that giants once ruled the Earth should be taken literally. He did score some money out of the argument, thought, because he eventually sold the fake giant for 37 grand. 5. Now, I get to show off my Dutch pronunciation - Jarno Smeets uploaded a video to YouTube in March of 2012, but this wasn't like a, you know, babies-licking-fingers, or cats-playing-keyboards; this video featured Smeets donning wings and then flying through the sky! Turns out, Jarno Smeets was not a bird-man, but actually an animator named Floris Kaayk... I lived in Holland. And that is my Dutch pronunciation. Anyway, he was working on a media project, and a... pretty successful one! 6. So when the second War in Iraq was just beginning, a photo emerged of a gigantic camel spider - this was sent around in emails, asking for sympathy for the troops. Mark, is there a spider behind my shoulder? [turns] D'AAAAHHHH!!!! Oh sweet holy Lord, how can you have the Smurf holding a present right above that gigantic spider!? Anyway, this email claimed that flesh-eating spiders were tormenting U.S. troops, could run 25 mpg, and jump 3 feet in the air. These spiders do exist, and they are big, but... that's a very cleverly angled picture. Also, they don't run that fast, and then can't jump at all, but Mark - can they escape from glass...? 7. In 1814, during the Napoleonic Wars, a man dressed as a colonel went around London claiming that Napoleon was dead, and that the Bourbons had won the war. The news resulting in British stock prices rising, before falling back to normal, when it was revealed that Napoleon was... not dead, and in fact, Lord Thomas Cochrane, the man who benefited form the stock fraud, was subsequently arrested. 8. People went wild in 1994 when an Internet press release that Microsoft had acquired "the Roman Catholic Church in exchange for an unspecified number of shared of Microsoft common stock". The press release was, of course, phony, but Microsoft had to come out with an official statement, assuring that they were not going to make sacraments available online anytime soon. And in fact, to this day, even if you make a confession on one of those tumblr blogs, it still doesn't count. 9. A 2007 widely-circulated eight-inch mummified fairy was found in a garden in Derbyshire, England, with descriptions of wings, teeth, hollow bones, along with pictures - many people were hopeful that we had finally located Tinker Bell, but in fact, it was a hoax. 10. Not the first fairy hoax, either; perhaps the most famous was the Cottingley Fairies, pictures taken by two young girls proving the existence of fairies in 1917, but the fairies turned out to be cardboard cutouts, because, you know, no Photoshop. 11. In the 1800s, in Hungary, the Mechanical Turk amazed everyone, with its ability to play clever chess against human opponents, often winning; it even beat Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon... but it was a hoax. There was a little guy inside, who was controlling the Turk and moving the pieces around! Mark would like me to clarify that the person inside the Mechanical Turk was in fact not a little guy; he was a regular-sized person. 12. The Fiji mermaid, allegedly discovered by English doctor Dr. J. Griffin, was a widely-discussed hoax in the mid 1800's; many came to see it and were disappointed by its non-beauty, which makes sense, considering that the mermaid was in fact a papier-mâché'd monkey connected to a fish bottom. I don't want to oversimplify, but essentially just like Donkey Kong riding a mermaid. 13. In 1912, Charles Dawson found a bunch of skull fragments which were put together by his team to reveal the piltdown man; this completed skull would essentially serve as proof of evolution by fitting the description of half-man, half-ape; scientists were unconvinced, and they were right, because the piltdown man skull was actually comprised of the bones of three different species. Charles Dawson - truly the poorest man's Charles Darwin. 14. In 1904, Frederick Lorz won the marathon at the Summer Olympics, but only sort of, because he stopped after 9 miles, got a ride from his manager for the next 11, and when the car broke down, Lorz walked back to the Olympic stadium and won the marathon, crossing the finish line first, breaking the tape and everything. Then he went on to claim that it was all a big joke, but only once people started to accuse him of not actually having run the entire race. In his defense, he did run 9 miles! That seems like a lot to me! I'll give you a medal for that. 15. Alien crop circles are pretty common hoaxes these days, including in M. Night Shyamalan movies, but all thanks to Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, who cut the first of many flying saucer nests in an English wheat field in 1976. 16. In 1938, Orson Wells went on CBS Radio, reading from The War of the Worlds by H. G. Welles, but in a standard news format; confused listeners believed that they were listening to a report of an actual alien invasion occurring in the United States. This unintentional hoax was so believable that some people initially tried but failed to sue CBS for mental anguish. Studies claim that 6 million people were listening to The War of the Worlds and 28% of those listeners believed the alien invasion was actually happening. It's the same 28% who''s currently yelling at me about my alien crop circles comment. 17. A hoax was actually used in order to ensure D-Day's success in World War II; the day before the fighting began in Normandy, the British used actor-soldier M. E. Clifton James, a general Monty Montgomery look-alike, to distract the Germans. By the way, a propos of nothing, General Monty Montgomery had puppies named Hitler and Rommel. Ah? German troops headed to the Mediterranean to fight the decoy general, alloying the true Monty Montgomery to invade Normandy on D-Day. M. E. Clifton James later played both himself and Montgomery in a movie dramatizing the hoax. 18. We call that the Eddie Murphy. Okay, let's pick up the pace here. Left-handed whopper - yes, that was a real hoax that had right-handed whopper eaters up in arms - Meredith! Up in arms? Really? I expect better of you. Burger King said they were rotating condiments 180º for their left-handed customers, but that turned out to be an April Fool's Day Joke. 19. Hitler Diaries, purchased by a German news magazine for $6 million? Hmm... not Hitler's diaries, in fact. 20. And I'm sorry, ladies, but Pope Joan, the pope who casually went into labor during a procession, is a hoax, deriving from folklore. There has never been a female pope. 21. Despite what you've heard on the Internet, egg whites, flour, and butter - none of these things help heal burns. They do, however, make for delicious baking, if you want to turn your burns into cookies? 22. Balloon Boy was up in the attic the entire time his family claimed that he was on a crazy balloon ride. 23. The Wingdings computer font did not predict 9/11. Typing in Q33 NY does give you an airplane, towers, a skull, and a Star of David, but Q33 is not the flight number of either of the planes, and actually has nothing to do with 9/11, and what... this is crazy! 24. There's no such thing as triple water spouts! 25. Also, these are definitely not UFOs! Oh, photographic evidence hoaxes, the Internet has only made you more prominent. Here, I've made you a list of people who are definitely dead: 26. Elvis Presley, 27. Michael Jackson, 28. Andy Kaufman, 29. Tupac - that was a hologram, 30. Jim Morrison, and 31. Jimi Hendrix. And here are some people who, despite rumors to the contrary, are not dead: 32. Gene Simmons, 33. Britney Spears, 34. Miley Cyrus, 35. Garth Brooks, 36. Charlie Sheen, 37. Eddie Murphy, 38. Tony Danza, 39. Bill Cosby, 40. Justin Bieber, 41. Dave Matthews, 42. Paul McCartney... one of those people are probably going to die before we upload this video, between now and when this video is uploaded; then they're going to be like, "Paul McCartney is so dead!" I didn't know Paul McCartney was going to die! I mean, if it was going to be someone... but I didn't know! 43. Anyway, speaking of Paul McCartney, the Masked Marauders, an album featuring a collaboration between him, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, and John Lennon, was a subject of a satirical article in Rolling Stone, much to the disappointment of many fans. 44. You can't charge your iPod using electrolytes. That YouTube video was a hoax; stop asking Yahoo! Answers and plugging your iPod into onions! 45. Blair Witch Project? Hoax. 46. Paranormal Activity? Also a hoax. But still terrifying! 47. YouTube is not shutting down to select a winner of all time best video; that was an April Fool's Day prank; besides, we all know that we would win. 48. Also, Facebook is not considering charging, because who would pay for that? 49. And lastly, this should really go without saying: Do not trust any website offering to sell you a device for at-home do-it-yourself LASIK surgery. Here, Mark made a list of all the things you should buy on the Internet that shoot you in the eye with lasers. The famous site LASIK at Home, first created in 2006 - yeah, no. Really, no. Thanks for watching mental_floss, which is brought to you with the help of these nice people, including Captain America. Every week, we try to answer one question that you have asked. This week's question comes from cowsintegrant: Is it true that Alfred Nobel, the creator of the Nobel Prize, blew up his brother with dynamite? Yes! In fact, you know where all that Nobel Prize money came from? Dynamite. If you have a question, please submit it in comments; thanks again for watching mental_floss, and DFTBA.