So what does "a box of bike parts" have to do with the small image of man and machine to the right of this text? A lot, really..... Both are tall-tales of sorts that gained credibility by being passed from one person to another; the former largely through word of mouth and the later via various forms of online communcation.
I suspect practically anybody who has spent more than a few minutes online has encountered one of these urban legends / hoaxes / campaigns of misinformation. The internet has changed everything -- even the ways we fool each other. Here are some other notable examples:
- Kurt Vonnegut's MIT commencement address (1997): It really is a clever speech. Problem is, Vonnegut never delivered it.
- Whales in the Minnesota River (1999): A hoax website for the city of Mankato, Minnesota advertised whale watching tours and sunny beaches. The site attracted hunderds of inquiries to Mankato's chamber of commerce and tourism offices.
- Retractable dome roof for U.S. Capitol Building (2002): Beijing's most popular newspaper, Beijing Evening News, picked up on a 2002 article form the satirical newspaper The Onion. What a hoot...