A hoax is an attempt to trick an audience into believing that something false is real. Generally there is some material object involved, which is actually a forgery. Unlike a fraud or con (which usually has an audience of one or a few), which are made for illicit financial or material gain, or a pious fraud , which is perpetrated to support the revelations of a religion , a hoax is often perpetrated as a practical joke with a humorous intent, to cause embarrassment, for personal aggrandizement or to serve political purposes. Still, many confidence tricks and the like have also been labeled as hoaxes.
Many hoaxes are also motivated by a desire to satirize or educate by exposing the credulity of the public or the absurdity of the target: literary and artistic hoaxes are often of this sort, although political hoaxes are sometimes motivated in part or whole by the desire to ridicule or expose politicians or political institutions .
The status of a given factoid as reliable or hoax is often the subject of considerable controversy.
The word hoax came from the common pretend magic spell "hocus pocus". "Hocus pocus", in turn, is commonly believed to be a distortion of "hoc est corpus" (= "this is the body") from the LatinMass. Many etymologists dispute the certainty of this claim.
Tasaday tribe in the Philippines. Much debated. Note: the term "hoax" in relation to the Tasaday is a very overloaded and overused term, which would be better enunciated as multiple questions: Are the Tasaday a genuine people? Yes. Were some early reports of the Tasaday overstated? Yes. etc.
Philippines historical figure Kanatiaw
the Shroud of Turin was "cunningly painted" by a monk in the 14th century, according to the local bishop.
"Hoaxes of exposure" can be thought of as semi-comical, private sting operations. Their usual purpose is to expose people acting foolishly or credulously, to encourage them to fall for something that the hoaxer hopes to reveal as patent nonsense. See also culture jamming.
The British television series Brass Eye encouraged celebrities to pledge their support to nonexistent causes, to highlight their willingness to do anything for publicity. For instance, Phil Collins was invited to campaign against paedophilia using the slogan "I'm talking Nonce Sense", and an MP was enticed to ask questions in Parliament about a non-existent drug called Cake.
Benjamin Vanderford, created a video depicting his own beheading in Iraq and distributed it over the Internet. He claimed that one reason he created it was to show how easily such videos could be faked and yet taken by the news media as fact, pointing out that he gave information such as his address in the video that would make its inauthenticity easily verifiable.
Journalist may be over-eager to "get a story", both to increase his own prestige or write something that would increase the sales of the publication. Also see Journalistic fraud.
During certain events and at particular times of year, hoaxes are perpetrated by many people and groups. The most famous of these is certainly April Fool's Day, the annual 'open season' for fictional accounts and dubious announcements.
A New Zealand tradition is the capping stunt, wherein university students perpetrate a hoax upon an unsuspecting population. They are traditionally executed near autumn graduation (the "capping").