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Top 10 Paranormal Hoaxes

By Charlene Kemp

There is a certain criteria that a story meets in order for it to be classed as a hoax. Below is a list of criteria that the stories below meet and unfortunately is classed as being a hoax.


The hoax must be deliberate and may have a motive to what is wanting to be established.

The hoax must include an obvious “paranormal” occurrence of some kind.

The hoax must have achieved a reasonably high public profile.

The hoax must have made a lasting impact on human society. This is the deciding factor—more important than how well the hoax was executed or how believable it appears to be. Lack of information/background information or records to back the story up.
so here is a list of the Top 10 paranormal Hoaxes in History

10. King Tut’s Curse
Tutankhamen’s Tomb was discovered in the 20th Century. Upon the Tomb a curse was found inscribed over the entrance which read ‘Death shall come swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the king’ 

Not long after there was many stories being told about unnatural deaths of the workers on the site. It wasn’t long before this news spread and found its way into popular culture, which over time as set the stage for a whole sub genre of horror stories and movies.

In 1980 a security officer for the original excavation site admitted that such stories had been suggested and circulated to scare away any thieves. There are also historical records which back this claim up that show most excavation workers went on to lead long and healthy lives.

9. The Cottingley Fairies

Young cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith produced a series of photographs in 1917 and 1920. These photographs displayed themselves interacting with fairies. In todays society it is hard to picture how so many could be fooled by such clear fake photographs but in the 20th century people was convinced and a huge following supported this.

It wasn’t until 1981 that Elsie and Frances admitted that in deed some of photographs was indeed a hoax but still claimed that they did indeed had seen fairies and that one of the pictures was genuine.

8. The Cardiff Giant

Workers digging a well in Cardiff, New York in the year 1869, uncovered what appeared to look like the petrified remains of a giant, The remains was of a man who was 10 foot in height.

Archaeologists declared that the body was indeed a fake but the public was more accepting to the idea and the reaction was in support of the claim, this was especially popular among those who thought it was evidence in support of biblical history. The body became popular and became somewhat of a business assets as crowds of people would pay for a glimpse. Showman P.T Barnum tried to have ownership of the body but after failing decided to make his own replica, which caused confusion to which one was the actual genuine giant found.

In 1869, George Hull a tobacconist, admitted it was indeed a hoax and that the body had been sculpted from concrete and buried a year before work commenced on the well digging.

7. Uri Geller – Spoon Bending 

During the 1979 Uri Geller enjoyed success with his mentalism acts. This was based on his ability to bend spoons with his mind. Throughout the years Uri Geller stood firmly by his claims of having supernatural powers up until James Randi published a book with hard evidence exposing Uri’s tricks. Geller was also caught numberous times on camera manipulating his stage props (mainly pre-bending spoons) before shows.

Uri Geller has never offically outted himself but he did tacitly confess to the hoax in 2007 expressing the following

Ill no longer say that I have supernatural powers. I am an entertainer….My entire Character has changed’.

6. The Amityville Horror

Ronald Defeo Jr shot six members of his family in 1974 in Amityville, Newyork. A year later The Lutz family moved in. 28 days later the family fled from the house claiming to have terrorised by an unseen forces ( a ghostly presences).

Jay Anson wrote a best selling book and made a series of films based on their story, which was highly successful based on the claim of a true and verifiable story.

However, on closer investigation, it seems that not much of any story can be verified. Police and other records contradicted the book’s claims and many holes had been found in the story. In 1979, A lawyer William Weber claimed

‘ I know this boom was a hoax, We Created this Horror story over many Bottles of wine.’

5. Loch Ness Monster – The Surgeon’s Photo

There are many hoaxes which surround the Loch Ness Monster but the one which stands out amongst them all is ‘ The Surgeon’s Photo’. This was submitted to the London Daily Mail in 1934 by Dr.R.Kenneth Wilson.

It wasn’t the first reported sighting of the monster, or even the most convincing but had somewhat became an icon in the world of cryptozoology.

It is believed that Marmaduke Wetherall orchestrated the hoax, a photographer who had previously been humiliated after taking pictures of a fake monster footprints.

In 1975 Werherall’s son, Ian, explained how the monster in the photo was actually a toy submarine what was attached to a wooden neck.

4. Alien Autopsy Footage

Ray Santili shocked viewers when he released what was alleged to be autopsy of an alien that was found in a craft.
The 17 minute black and white film titled the ‘Alien Autopsy’ featured what appeared to be real life dissection on film.

When Ray Santili was asked where he had got such footage, he claimed he had received it off a retired military cameraman who wished to remain anonymous.

After broadcasting and selling the footage to the television, 16 years later, in 2016, Santilli finally admitted that the film was indeed a hoax. He admitted that even though some of the film was fake there was a few scenes which was actual real autopsy footage but never stated or made clear which ones these were.

3. The Fiji/ Feejee Mermaid

P.T Barnum ( owner and founder of Barnum and Bailey Circus) rented what he believed to be a mermaid for $12.50 a week.

American sea captain Samuel Barrett Edes bought the mermaid off Barnum from Japanese sailors in 1822, this was displayed within several outlets and was believed to be caught off the coast of Fiji.

Barnum believed the mermaid was 100% real, sources close by stated they believed it wasn’t. A naturalist debunked the mermaid has being that of a head of a monkey attached to the flesh of a fish.

Despite this, Barnum had already prepared a show with fake advertisements, which shown a half women and half fish. The advertisements looked nothing like the mermaid he had on display and even hired a phony naturalist to give him a back up story that the mermaid was in fact real.

Nobody really knows what happened to the mermaid, Barnum’s museum caught on fire many times and it was rumoured that it had been destroyed by this along with countless other artefacts.

However, The Harvard University Peabidy Musueum of Archaeology and Ethnology had an artefact which appears very similar to the Fiji mermaid but had been given the name ‘The Banff Merman’ So over the years there has been many speculations and questions to whether or not it’s the same artefact or not.

2. The Well to Hell

A team of Russian engineers drilled a hole in an unknown part of Siberia. They said the hole, was deeper than what they had expected it to be. The hole according to them seemed to reach temperatures of 1,090 degrees. They also claimed to have heard noises and they decided to send down a heat tolerant microphone along with other sensory equipment. When they brought the equipment back from the well the team claimed to be shocked by what recordings they had captured.
They reported listening to strange noises and screams as though people was being tortured.

It was said that the whole crew was in a state of panic and they believed they had discovered the portal to hell.

The story was sold to the news and made major headlines, it even caused a stir between spiritual organisations who took to praying and preaching but this all came to an end when it was realised that the actual recordings was fake, they did indeed drill a hole but admitted that the screams and strange noises heard was actually a recording they had on a loop of the 1972 film ‘Baron Blood’

1. The Fox Sisters

The Fox Sisters are responsible for one of the most influential hoaxes of all time, although it is not well known today.

Even to this day more then 150 years on since the original events, the effects can still be seen in the spiritual beliefs of millions and millions of people.

In 1848, two sister Kate and Margaret Fox living in New York claimed that they could communicate with a spirit in their home. They claimed they could do this by audible tapping or ‘Rapping’. Later joined by their older sister Leah, the three toured the U.S and build a support for the spiritual movement.

By 1853 spiritualism claimed over two million followers worldwide, influenced hugely by the Fox sisters.

They influenced the idea that humans might be able to communicate with spirits and this became a part of western culture, which still continues today as we know it.

‘Rapping’, however has since long gone out of fashion and isnt used as it was.

Margaret Fox signed a confession which was published in the New York World in 1888 stating…

My sister Katie was the first to observe that by swishing her fingers she could produce certain noises with her knuckles and joints, and that the same effect could be made with the toes. Finding that we could make raps with our feet – first with one foot and then with both – we practiced until we could do this easily when the room was dark. Like most perplexing things when made clear, it is astonishing how easily it is done.”

The Fox sisters Fell out and difted apart and all three sisters died within 5 years of each other.

Even with the confession regarding the ‘rapping’ that did not stop people believing that the Fox sisters indeed have a genuine power.

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