Jussie Smollett and the rise of American hate hoaxing

The actor Jussie Smollett has been jailed for 150 days after staging a hate crime against himself. Freddy Gray wrote about the rise of hate hoaxing in December… So Jussie Smollett, the world’s most notorious hate hoaxer, has at last been found guilty of lying to the police.  Smollett, you may remember, was the actor who wanted to get even more famous so badly that he hired two brothers to put on ski masks and pretend to be Trump-supporting racists who spotted him in public. They then fake attacked him with bleach and a noose that they just happened to be carrying around, as racists do. The US vice president and

Are the English exceptionally gullible?

The word ‘hoax’ did not catch on till the early 19th century. Before that one spoke of a hum, a frump, a prat or a bilk. But 18th-century Britain, even if not rife with talk of ‘hoaxes’, was full of incautious souls at risk of being bilked. James Graham, a Scottish quack, was able to charge infertile couples £50 a night to lounge in his Celestial Bed, which had a mattress lined with hair from stallions’ tails. The artist Ann Jemima Provis and her father, Thomas, caused embarrassment to the Royal Academy by conning its president, Benjamin West, into thinking they had stumbled on a rare manuscript that would allow