The Famous Paranormal Hoaxes Quiz

Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Are ghosts and psychic powers real? Hoaxers go to great lengths to make you think they are. See how much you know about these frightful frauds with this quiz about famous paranormal hoaxes.

The Fox sisters claimed they could communicate with spirits, who replied by making rapping or knocking sounds. What was the real source of the sounds?

Several investigations revealed the sisters were making the knocking sounds with their joints. They later confessed.

Advertisement

The Cardiff Giant purported to be a petrified 10-foot tall man, but it was really carved out of what?

The giant was carved from gypsum and was ultimately debunked in court when P.T. Barnum created a replica and claimed his was real.

Advertisement

Uri Geller claimed to have numerous psychic abilities, including the power to bend spoons. On what TV show was he infamously unable to perform any psychic feats?

When Geller appeared on "The Tonight Show," magician James Randi prevented him from doctoring his spoons and other props ahead of time. None of Geller's psychic powers worked properly as a result.

Advertisement

What hoaxerrific haunted house tale was set in the house where Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his family in the 1970s?

The murders at the Amityville house really happened. The demonic entity/possession/pig monster, not so much.

Advertisement

It's probably just a clever painting, but plenty of people believe the Shroud of Turin carries the post-mortem image of who?

Carbon dating has shown that the Shroud isn’t old enough to have covered Jesus Christ.

Advertisement

It wasn't aliens who made those elaborate designs in a wheat field, it was…

Although it can’t be proven that every crop circle ever found was made with a wooden board, it doesn’t mean aliens did any of them. That's a logical fallacy known as the argument from ignorance.

Advertisement

In the early 1970s, two men overly interested in occult tales and superstitions competed with each other to defeat what nonexistent creature in a London neighborhood?

The Highgate Vampire was concocted entirely from letters written to local newspapers and TV reports, but it eventually drew dozens to a London graveyard for a vampire hunt.

Advertisement

Photographs of the Enfield Poltergeist suggest that claims of ghostly levitation were really produced by…

The poltergeist's varied antics were easily explainable as children's pranks, and the levitation photos clearly show a girl simply bouncing on a bed.

Advertisement

The Cottingley Fairies, which were simple paper cutouts of fairy drawings photographed in a garden, fooled what famous author?

Sherlock Holmes would have been singularly unimpressed by the ease with which his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was fooled by two children with a camera and a book of fairy drawings.

Advertisement

Rudolph Fentz, who supposedly appeared in Times Square and was immediately killed by a car, was an enigma because people believed he was what?

Fentz appeared in Times Square in 1950 wearing old-fashioned clothes and mutton-chop sideburns, suggesting he was a time traveler (from 21st century Brooklyn, perhaps?). In truth, it never happened -- a science-fiction story was reprinted as the truth and became a legend until someone tracked down its origin.

Advertisement

A famous photo of what legendary monster turned out to be a model attached to a toy submarine?

There are lot of possible explanations for the many photos of Nessie, but one of them is definitely a toy submarine.

Advertisement

One of the most widespread paranormal hoaxes was the practice of spirit photography, which supposedly allowed dead family members to appear alongside living loved ones in photographs. How was it accomplished?

Spirit photographers overlayed an image of the dead relative onto a new portrait, a process known as a double exposure.

Advertisement

In 1995, Fox aired a "documentary" that coincided with the popularity of "The X-Files" but was really the work of a special effects artist. What was it called?

"Alien Autopsy" claimed to be a real documentary, but it was fairly obvious the alien was a rubber fake.

Advertisement

The 1967 Patterson-Gimlin footage of what creature was reportedly a fur suit built by a costume maker?

Debates about the Bigfoot film will probably rage forever, but the costume maker confessed, so a hoax seems likely.

Advertisement

What crystal objects were touted as pre-Columbian artifacts with paranormal powers, but turned out to be made by 19th century jewelers?

Machining marks and the source of the crystal suggests the skulls were made in Germany with Brazilian crystal in the 1800s.

Advertisement

Tibetan mystic T. Lobsang Rampa turned out to be Englishman Cyril Henry Hoskins, who wrote a book claiming he'd undergone a special surgery. What was the purpose of the surgery?

Hoskins' third eye was fraudulent, as was his book.

Advertisement

The vague prophecies of what famous prognosticator have been used in countless hoaxes by those seeking to profit from seemingly accurate interpretations of his quatrains?

Nostradamus may or may not have been intentionally hoaxing his patrons, but all the Hitler and 9/11 memes using fake Nostradamus prophecies certainly are.

Advertisement

Psychics used muslin, cheesecloth, doll heads and faces cut from magazines to produce what mysterious paranormal substance during séances?

Ectoplasm was said to disintegrate in light, so séances had to be held in dark conditions, perfect for secretly producing the stuff from wherever the psychic may have been hiding it.

Advertisement

Psychic surgery might be the most harmful paranormal hoax, convincing people they were receiving actual medical help. It was all accomplished how?

Psychic surgeons claimed to remove tumors without making incisions, but they merely smeared animal meat and fake blood over the site of the "surgery" using sleight of hand.

Advertisement

Thoughtography, which has experienced several periods of popularity both in the U.S. and Japan, is the supposed ability to do what?

Thoughtography, or the ability to psychically imprint camera film, was the inspiration for the novel and film series "The Ring."

Advertisement

In the case of the Columbus poltergeist, video showed that the ghostly phenomena were the result of…

The teenager in question, Tina Resch, was convicted of murdering her 3-year-old daughter later in life.

Advertisement

The PEAR Lab found statistically significant evidence of psychic abilities that was possibly the result of fraud or bias. What prestigious university was the lab part of?

PEAR stands for Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research.

Advertisement

Some hoaxes are put on to show that paranormal phenomena are easily faked, such as Project Alpha, which was orchestrated by what well-known skeptic and former escape artist?

The two fake psychics used by Randi strung along researchers for years.

Advertisement

A rash of Jersey Devil sightings in 1909 was the result of a hoax in which some fake wings were attached to what kind of animal?

The captive kangaroo was billed as the Jersey Devil to boost museum attendance.

Advertisement

What was the Crewe Circle?

The Crewe Circle photographers were exposed as frauds, but Arthur Conan Doyle was taken in (again) despite the debunking.

Advertisement

The Bélmez Faces were mysterious images of human faces that appeared where in a Spanish home beginning in the 1970s?

The faces were likely painted on the concrete kitchen floor in hopes of making money.

Advertisement

Who supposedly showed up to protect British soldiers at the World War I Battle of Mons?

Whether angels really showed up is open to debate (if you insist), but a trunk full of evidence supporting the angel story found in 2001 was 100 percent hoax, created to generate publicity.

Advertisement

A supposedly cursed doll kept in a museum by Ed and Lorraine Warren has inspired several films. What is its name?

Annabelle appears to be your basic Raggedy Ann doll, and there's no evidence beyond the Warrens' marketing campaign to indicate it's in any way paranormal.

Advertisement

In the 1600s, young girls were accused of witchcraft in what New England town?

The Salem Witch Trials led to 20 executions. The young girls, likely overcome by mass hysteria, wildly accused neighbors and family members of corrupting them with Satanic rituals, which, of course, had never happened.

Advertisement

A TV host was told the detailed and tragic history of George Bull by three separate psychics. Why didn’t this prove they had psychic powers?

All the facts of Bull's life and death were made up for the show, and everything the psychics reported could be found on the fake website the producers created.

Advertisement

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes