Viewport width =
September 11, 2006 | by  | in Books |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Hippo Eats Dwarf: a field guide to hoaxes and other bullshit

The title of this book comes from a news story that’s been forwarded endlessly around the world via email, and ultimately been printed several times in reputable newspapers. The story concerns a circus stunt gone wrong, and is plainly absurd but just credible enough to stay alive. It’s complete bollocks of course. And that’s the subject of Boese’s little book, those urban legends and Photoshop hoaxes that fill the inboxes of the gullible.

The Internet is, of course, the greatest hoaxing tool of our time, and possibly all time. People still have an inexplicable tendency to believe things they’ve been sent or seen. Boese follows myths such as the infamous “Bonsai kitten” back to their sources, revealing not hideously cruel pettorturers but pranksters out to sell a few Tshirts. The “Bill Gates” chain email, claiming that Microsoft will give you a thousand dollars for passing it on? That was written by Iowa State University student Bryan Mack in November 1997 and sent to a friend on the other side of the room.

If you think that sounds like a diverting but lightweight premise for a book, you’re exactly right. Boese pads out this central theme with various examples of the modern world’s general vapidity, the sort of things that sound like hoaxes but aren’t. These include reality TV shows with ludicrous premises, the outrageous lies of reporters and the true story of Michael Jackson’s nose.

I read Hippo Eats Dwarf in one half-hour sitting, which is a good reflection of both its entertainment value and intellectual depth. It does have one very good recurring motif though: don’t believe anything you read on the Internet (or in Salient). You can visit Alex Boese’s extensive website at

By Alex Boese

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. Laneway: Luck of the Draw
  2. Cuttin’ it with with Miss June
  3. SWAT
  4. Ravished by the Living Embodiment of All Our University Woes
  5. New Zealand’s First Rainbow Crossing is Here (and Queer)
  6. Chloe Has a Yarn About Mental Health
  7. “Stick with Vic” Makes “Insulting” and “Upsetting” Comments
  8. Presidential Address
  9. Final Review
  10. Tears Fall, and Sea Levels Rise

Editor's Pick

This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

: Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided