What is a hoax?

Literature and hoaxes both present a story. The difference lies in the motivation of the writer. A hoax is a fabrication, intended to trick to reader into believing a false story is true. Hoaxes draw on core instincts of people: hope, wonder and optimism, and capitalize on these vulnerabilities. People have an innate desire to look for the good in the world, and to believe in the impossible. Hoaxes pull people into stories so sensational that they are almost too good to be true, but with just enough realism to be possible. The success of a hoax rests in its ability to deceive the mass public, often to the advantage of the writer.

While literature can often be based on realistic elements, its purpose is not to convince the reader that the story is true. The creator of a hoax knows he/she has fooled the audience. Therefore, the writer and the reader are not on the same level; only one party is aware of the truth. On the other hand, in literature, the author has no ill intention to deceive the reader. Neither one is under the false premise that the story is meant to be taken as truth. While both literature and hoaxes can contain similar style and content, the intentions of the writer and the beliefs of the reader are what differentiates them.

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