Geometric patterns that appear overnight in crops or pastures, as in the film Signs, are alleged to be the handiwork of extraterrestrial visitors who, perhaps, intend the designs to be navigational aids for their more navigationally challenged peers. However, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley have explained how they created such designs as a prank. Using nothing more than planks of wood, rope, hats, wire, and ingenuity, they created a 40-foot circle in only 15 minutes. When publicity proved to be less than they’d anticipated, they repeated the procedure near a natural amphitheater near a busy roadway and increased the complexity of their designs when critics were unimpressed by their simple circles. The wire was used to fashion a loop that, suspended from a hat, allowed the men to focus on a distant landmark as an aid to keeping lines straight. Their hoax was exposed when Bower’s wife, noting the high number of miles on her husband’s odometer, confronted him as to his many outings, and, afraid she’d think he was being unfaithful to her, he confessed his and Chorley’s hobby. Others have since taken up the practice, which has become something of an international pastime.
- The Roswell incident, in which a crashed alien spaceship and its crew, killed in the impact, were supposedly recovered and sent to secret military installations.
- Spiritualism, which is predicated upon channeling spirits or otherwise communicating with the dead.
- Psychic networks, which the gullible can telephone for help with the future.
- The Shroud of Turin, which is said to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
- The Cottingley fairies (see above).
- Crop circles (see above).
- The Amityville Horror, the story of a supposedly haunted house, wherein a previous resident “murdered his parents and siblings,” was created by homeowners George and Kathy Lutz “over many bottles of wine” and became a major motion picture.
- The Piltdown Man, who was comprised of a human skull and an orangutan’s jawbone.
- Psychic surgery, which involves the supposed removal of “'tumors' and other diseased tissue” sans scalpel and anesthesia.
- King Tut’s curse, which was supposedly inscribed over the doorway to his tomb and has caused the deaths of his final resting place’s plunderers, whereas, “in fact, ten years after the tomb was opened, all but one of the five who first entered it were still living.”
The Cardiff giant, mentioned among the “C” entries of our own “A Dictionary of the Paranormal, the Supernatural, and the Otherworldly” post, is also mentioned.
For those who are interested in the subject of paranormal and supernatural hoaxes, two excellent sources are The Skeptic’s Dictionary and James Randi Educational Foundation's An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. We also recommend Chillers and Thrillers own four-part “Alternative Explanations” series: Part 1 , Part II, Part III, and Part IV.
About.com’s Stephen Wagner sponsors an annual “Paranormal Photo Hoax,” inviting the public to send him “a fake paranormal photo of any kind,” such as one of monsters, ghosts, poltergeists, fairies, UFO’s, or “anything else you can dream up.” Stories concerning the photographs are also welcome, he says. He’s the judge, and certain “terms and conditions” apply. Interested parties can read more at his blog, Paranormal Phenomena.