The Great Hoax

In March of 1994, at the DC Darkfriend Social, five other darkfriends and I concocted a heinous scheme to fool the jordan fans on the newsgroup. While it is hard to do more than scratch the surface of everything that happened in the three weeks we ran this hoax, this Web page attempts to summarize it.

To get a true feel for the Great Hoax, you might want to look at the bogus DF Social Report I wrote before you continue on with my account of what led to it and what followed from it.

Table of contents:

  I. The Lie of the World
 II. The Great Hoax
III. The Threads Reborn
 IV. The Volume Rising
  V. The Flames of the Heathens
As Paul Harvey would say, And now for the rest of the story...

The Jordan Hoax, part I: The Lie of the World

After our dinner plates were being cleared away and people were looking at their watches (I think Judy G had just left), I said, "It would be really funny if we made up some silly story about tonight and told it to the other Jordanites on rasfw to see if they'd believe us."

Almost instantly someone responded, "Let's tell them that Robert Jordan himself showed up!" "Yeah, he was in town at a book signing and stopped by," added another. "We can say we invited him, on a lark, and were really surprised when he dropped by," suggested a third.

We spent another few minutes kicking the idea around. We decided that saying he came to town for a book signing would be recognized as a lie, since such things would have been publicized. We also noted that Patrick N-H could shoot down our story instantly, since he'd have an idea of what JR's schedule is, and since our story would involve him or someone else at Tor telling JR about our gathering. So we decided to ask him to go along with us, or at least not spoil our fun. He agreed.

And so it was. Email discussions flew back and forth during the next two days as the 6 of us decided exactly what sort of a sham to make. I concocted a semi-believable pretense for why Jordan would come to our party and wrote about a lot of things that he might actually say. We knew from seeing him at book-signings, sending mail to him, etc. what sorts of things he might really say, so we knew how to add that air of verisimilitude. The first product of our scheme was the Social summary that said that Robert Jordan had come.

Our goal from the beginning was to have fun shamming the readers of this group, get them to reread the books to hunt down bogus references we manufactured, let them start bizarre speculations to incorporate this "new information" from the author himself, and to generally have a good laugh while testing the group's collective gullibility.

The Jordan Hoax, part II: The Great Hoax

Well, the hoax itself is now history, and I'll not repeat here the zany stories we cooked up. We really didn't think it would work so well; we figured that some people would disbelieve us from the start and that the hoax wouldn't last a week. Man, oh, man, did we underestimate the group's credulity.

Come to think of it, saying we met the author isn't all that big of a stretch, strictly speaking. Authors hold book signings, attend conventions, and do a number of other things that let their audience meet them.

Some of the first responses, though, were a hoot. I was literally falling off my chair when I read messages from some of the people who had fallen for our hoax hook, line, and sinker.

The Jordan Hoax, part III: The Threads Reborn

Well, our hoax surely did tip off a flood of new speculation, and managed to unearth just about every thread from the past year. Seeing how much everyone had fallen for our story, we started adding to it, mixing in more and more outrageous hints.

Yes, folks, the following (which most of you believed) are all nefarious fabrications:

...and the list goes on. So someone kill or change that damn thread that says "Thoughts on the Westing Game".

We were sure someone would figure it out. Man, were we wrong.

The Jordan Hoax, part IV: The Volume Rising

By this time the hoax had been going for two weeks and we had reached a point of despair: would anyone ever figure it out? How many more years before everyone stopped asking about the party the creator attended?

We took to more-or-less direct hints. When people asked me for a text of my original summary, I sent it along with some fairly overt hints that it was a hoax. Judy got in contact with a few Jordanites via email and started hitting them over the head with clues, but still they didn't catch on until she practically told them what I'm telling you now.

So, after dozens of posts and about 10 direct email messages to non-hoaxers, only 2 people had figured it out. I thought that surely the cat was out of the bag when I posted this anonymous exposé of what had been going on. Reaction seemed muted, at best.

The Jordan Hoax, part V: The Flames of the Heathens

To borrow from the "Queeg" script of the TV show Red Dwarf...
	"We are talking joke of the decade...
	 We are talking April, May, June, July, and August Fools'..."
Well, anyone out there want to protest about how utterly gulled, deceived, befuddled, duped, suckered, baited, tricked, conned, defrauded, shammed, beguiled, deluded, and otherwise fooled you were? Hahaha, claim what you will, for I've kept your messages as proof of your own credulity! 'Forthwith shall I name you and evince your gullibility.' Mwahahahahha!!!

by Bill Garrett, copyright 1994-1996
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