25 Greatest Scientific Hoaxes In History
Posted by David Pegg on July 16, 2012
A staple at the PT Barnum museum, this mummified mermaid (in spite of its fantasticle construction) was actually believed to be real by many people until it was proved to be nothing more than than the head and torso of a monkey attached to the tail of a fish.
So while its not really a hoax, it certainly is amusing. In order to determine whether high school students are telling the truth on drug questionnaires, test makers will often include fake drugs, the most famous of which is Derbisol. Interestingly enough, it seems as though up to 20% of participants have taken this fictitious drug.
In the early 90′s a short film of a supposed alien autopsy was aired on Fox Network after which several other news outlets picked up the story as well. It wasn’t until over 15 years later that the producer came forward to admit that it was fake. He still maintains, however, that it was based on real footage.
Constructed in 1770 this fake chess machine was made to look like a Turkish robot capable of beating even the best human players. After touring the world for almost a century and beating numerous chess masters, including none other than Benjamin Franklin, it was found that the robot was actually nothing more than a person in disguise.
As the of the most famous hoaxes in American history, the Cardiff Giant has allegedly been responsible for the coining of such popular phrases as “there’s a sucker born every minute”. To give you the backstory though, in the mid 1800s George Hull, a prominant atheist, had decided to play a prank on some of his Methodist acquaintances by having this huge giant buried in his cousin’s back yard, supposedly as a reference to the biblical passage concerning giants roaming the Earth. Not long aftewards, Hull had a well dug in the very same spot. Upon discovery of the giant so many people wanted to see it that several other replicas popped up around the country all claiming to be the real thing.
Despite being self taught, Shinichi was one of Japan’s leading archaeologists. In the early 1980s he started discovering artificts that progressively got older and older. Eventually he stumbled across something that was dated to 600,000 years which would have been the oldest sign of human habitation ever. Unfortunately for Shinichi, however, several journalists caught him planting the finds in the dirt before hand. After the photos of him doing so hit the press Shinichi met with some serious humiliation.
In 2002 BBC aired a report about German scientists who discovered that blond hard would be extinct in the next couple centuries due to being a recessive trait. Barely a year later the New York Times published a report about how the findings had been faked but the study has still been cited over the last 10 years in various publications.
In 2000 a university student at MIT, under the alias of Dr. Michael Wong Chong, created this website with instructions on how to grow a kitten in a jar so that it assume the shape of the container, much like the bonsai plant. In spite of the fact that it was very obviously satirical in nature, after drawing international criticism from animal rights groups, MIT removed the website.
Possibly no hoax in history has been responsible for causing more widespread panic than the 1938 radio program voiced by Orson Welles. Although it wasn’t intended to scare people into believing the world was really under attack by Martians, because the program was delivered in a series of fictional news bulletins many people panicked and thought it was true. Some even claimed to see flashes in the distance and smell poison gas.
Oh my gosh…did you just drink that dihydrogen monoxide? Well, if you know anything at all about Chemistry then you shouldn’t be worried. It’s just H20. Apparently, however, most people are ignorant of chemical nomenclature and will immediately associate it with something extremely poisonous. So, in recent years when various emails have circulated highlighting various warnings associated with dihydrogen monoxide (fatal if inhaled, contributes to greenhouse effect, accelerates corrosion) they have managed to generate quite a scare in the general population.
About David Pegg
David is the editor-in-chief of List25. He has a Masters degree in International Business from University of Florida. He loves to break dance, do flips, play guitar, and everything else that is fun. Follow him on Twitter @iamdpegg
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List25 compiles lesser-known intriguing information on a variety of subjects. List25 was started by David Pegg (@iamdpegg) and Syed Balkhi (@syedbalkhi). These college roommates from University of Florida loved finding bizarre yet interesting information on the internet, and sharing it with their friends. The problem was that facebook just couldn't compile it in a way they wanted. It was impossible to pull what they had shared a few months ago. Out of their frustration, they decided to solve the problem with a new project called List25.
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