Human Oil (and Other Hoaxes)

The following is an article from Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.

These hoaxes are so absurd, it's hard to believe that anyone was fooled ...but lots of people were.


The Story: In early 1990, the Trinity Broadcasting Network reported that Russian geologists on Siberia's Kola Peninsula had discovered Hell. They were using a giant drill, said TBN, to test how deep into the Earth they could reach. In November 1989, nine miles into the ground, the drill suddenly stopped spinning -it had hit air. The team lowered a thermometer into the hole. The temperature inside was 2,200°F -five times as hot as it should have been at that depth. They lowered a microphone down to record the sounds of shifting plates, and heard human screams. Then a black, spectral figure in the shape of a bat screeched and flew out of the hole.

The Hoax: TBN claimed (on the air) that the source for the story was Ammennusatia, "Finland's Most Respected Newspaper." They'd gotten the article from a Texas minister who sent it in, claiming it was from Finland's top scientific journal. Actually, Ammennusatia is a paranormal newsletter (it is from Finland). They got the story from a staffer who wrote it from memory after having read it in Etela Soumen, another Finnish newspaper, which ran the piece in a section where readers were invited to publish anything they liked -including fiction. Someone had sent the story to Etela Soumen after reading it an another weird Finnish newsletter called Vaeltajat. That paper got it from an obscure American religious newsletter called Jewels of Jericho, which had completely made it up. TBN reported the story without bothering to find out if it was true. A few months later, they announced that because of the story, 3,000 people had converted to Christianity. Ironically, the story was rooted in fact: from 1970 to 1989, Soviet scientists were involved in a project called the Kola Superdeep Borehole. The point was to drill as deep into the Earth as possible. They got about 7.6 miles in, but never encountered any fiery air holes, human scream, or ghostly bats.


The Story: At the 2007 Gas and Oil Exhibition, Canada's largest annual oil-industry convention, a National Petroleum Council representative named Shepard Wolff and an Exxon Mobile executive, Florian Osenberg, unveiled "Vivoleum" -a revolutionary process that turned human flesh into gasoline (very handy, should oil reserves ever dry up). The executives then played a film about a deceased Exxon janitor who had volunteered to be turned into Vivoleum, and passed out candles to be lit in the janitor's memory. That's when they announced that the candles were the janitor- transformed by Vivoleum.

The Hoax: After the two men passed out the "human candles," the event's organizers realized that "Wolff" and "Osenberg" were phonies.They were really Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two members of the Yes Men, an anti-consumerism group that stages high-profiles stunts to embarrass corporations with poor environmental or human rights records. Bichlbaum and Bonanno had set up a fake Exxon website (, through which they got themselves invited to the Oil Exposition. Convention organizers threw them out and threatened to have them arrested. A few days later, Exxon demanded they shut down the Vivoleum site. They declined, saying it was a parody and thus protected under the First Amendment. (The web site has since shut down.)


The Story: On a Sunday morning in June 2007, CT2, a television station in the Czech Republic, was airing a weather update. As weather stats scrolled along the bottom of the screen, a camera panned the country's scenic Krkonose Mountains. Suddenly, off in the distance, a fiery mushroom cloud filled the sky. The screen went black -the Czech Republic had just been nuked.

(YouTube link)

The Hoax: A Czech performance art group called Initiative Ztohoven had hacked into CT2's feed and replaced it with its own footage -undetectably similar ...up until the bomb part. The mushroom cloud was just simple video editing done on a computer. After the initial blackout, CT2 came back on the air to reassure viewers they they weren't under attack. Members of Initiative Ztohoven are under investigation by the Czech government and may face terrorism charges.


This article was reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Triumphant 20th Anniversary Bathroom Reader.

Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts.

If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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