Sunday, May 14, 2006

fraudulent websites

At The New Research Summit, Carter discussed a hoax website he uses in class that claims to be able to make men pregnant, and I offered to post some fraudulent/hoax websites.

Here is a list of some hoax websites that one teacher has used. My favorite is the site that advocates banning Dihydrogen Monoxide (H20 - water). One town (I forget where) has actually banned Dihydrogen Monoxide because of this site (and felt really embarrassed when someone informed them that it was water).

I came across this list from a post on the blog Remote Access, where a teacher discusses his use of online fraud with his public school students. I've used the Dihydrogen Monoxide cite, as well as a few others, with my eighth graders and tenth graders, and I was really quite surprised with how many students believed that there was a zoo somewhere that had elephants with twig-legs (I can't remember the URL for that one).

Often, though, my students could figure it out once they paid attention and focused on the author's credibility, the accuracy of some of their facts, a bit of research, or dug deep enough to find the disclaimer stating the site was fraudulent.


At 9:09 PM, Blogger S. Clark said...

This is a very impressively long list! I checked on the Oxford Open University link because I'd heard that Oxford was offering distance education, and I wanted to know if I'd been the victim of a hoax. The link didn't work, but when I searched for Oxford Open University on Google, I did come up with a site: What do you think?

At 8:33 AM, Blogger Michael Faris said...

the Oxford Open University's website claims to be a member of the Association of British Correspondence Colleges, so I googled that, went to their website (, and found that they were indeed a member with a link to that page ( Looks legitimate.

It appears that the broken link took a visitor to an angelfire website. Angelfire is known as a website service that can help anyone set up a website, usually personal pages, akin to, but less social than, MySpace. (Hardly anyone uses Angelfire anymore, but it was very popular in the 90s.) I think the teacher who created that link wanted students to realize that a college wouldn't have its website on Angelfire.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Deepfry said...

another great site that i like to use is the "Feline Reactions to Bearded Men" ( This site is published by the Annals of Improbable Research and it doesn't take long to figure out that it's a hoax, but it's a lot of fun for students.

I've also had some success with the postmodern essay generator ( Each time you open or reload the page, it generates a new nonsense essay. I created a page using one of these essays and attributing it to myself to show a class how easy it is to publish scholarly-sounding materials online. My site is now down, but the postmodern generator is alive and well.


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