What is a hoax?

Kristi Kwok

ENG 181-000

A hoax is a work of fiction created by the author to purposely deceive others so that the readers will interpret any convincing story as the truth. In order to do so, the author crafts the story to fit the audience’s beliefs and values to draw their attention away from many of illogical facts. One of the most common hoaxes are weight loss and diet programs that offer a quick and easy way to lose weight through a simple pill or a cream. Many of these programs will support their advertising with false scientific research or attractive pictures of successful people. However, in actuality, the programs often do not work and will result in harmful health effects but it appeals to the targeted group of people who are looking to lose weight. In the end, the weight loss company will achieve their agenda to earn more money by successfully deceiving their customers.

On the contrary, literature is the artful expression of an author’s ideas with no hidden intentions to alter the audience’s perception of the world. Authors who write literature merely want to put their ideas into published text with a hope to influence and enlighten their readers. For instance, great works of literature such as A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens included social commentary on the French revolution and class divisions in the eighteenth century, but this differs from a hoax because there was no hidden agenda behind his work. Dickens’ intent for writing the novel was to put his ideas into a fictional story as a form of self-expression and opinion. Although both considered works of fiction, a very clear distinction between hoaxes and literature exists.

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