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17 Amazing Hoaxes That Fooled People Throughout History
May 4, 2017

17 Amazing Hoaxes That Fooled People Throughout History

Lying and making others looks like fools – that was the urge that proved irresistible to some. 

Check out the following 17 hoaxes that made people question everything in life afterward!

1. The Cottingley Fairies Hoax

Cottingley Fairies
via Wikimedia

Let’s travel back to 1917, the year when two little girls managed to convince the world that fairies exist.

Elsie Wright (16) and Frances Griffiths (9) from Cottingley, England decided to give reality a magical twist. Five photos appear to depict small creatures playing carelessly in the grass alongside the girls.

It was not easy being a prankster a century ago. With no Photoshop around, the two cousins got busy crafting cardboard cutouts.

What amazes the most is the number of people that fell for it. The hoax they perpetrated was good enough to stay in the headlines and even convince Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of its authenticity.

The mystery surrounding the Cottingley Fairies survived until the 1980s when the two decided to end the game. Can you imagine the old ladies whispering the truth from their deathbeds? There must a special place in hell for liars that don’t know when to stop.

Cottingley Fairies
via Wikimedia

On the next page, you will get to see a hoax that made people look up to the skies and question the morality of our modern times.

2. Microsoft Acquisition Hoax

Microsoft Acquisition Hoax
via Museum of Hoaxes

Can you imagine the world where Bill Gates is the new pope and owning an iPhone is considered heresy?

The news that Microsoft bought the Roman Catholic Church was one of the finest hoaxes to ever mess with the masses. It showed just how easy fake information propagates over the Internet.

Let’s just say that believers had a vivid vision of the day when confessions will become obsolete. Why promise not to sin when you can now “CTRL+Z.”

Microsoft was a powerhouse even back in 1994. That made the transaction theoretically possible. However, the purpose of the pun was completely different.

The masterminds that unleashed the “Microsoft Acquires” meme wanted to raise a red flag on Microsoft attempting to establish a monopoly in the world of software. Their prophecies are not far from reality.

We have grown increasingly dependent on technology and worshiping the almighty CPU doesn’t seem farfetched.

Microsoft Acquisition Hoax
via In Feeds

You probably remember the hoax that created a media frenzy in the 1990s.

3. The Alien Autopsy Video

The Alien Autopsy Video
via YouTube

The 1995 footage of the so-called alien corpse kept millions of viewers with their eyes glued to the TV set.

Forget about shaky pics of flying saucers taken out of your mother’s kitchen for an impromptu photo session. One UFO enthusiast went all way and unearthed a 17-minute black and white film related to the 1947 Roswell incident.

The hoax had endured over a decade before the prankster decided to come clean. Ray Santilli admitted everything. His excuse was that he was trying to reproduce the original footage that got destroyed over the years.

The dead alien was nothing more than an elaborate dummy. The anatomy of the intergalactic visitor contained sheep brains set in raspberry jam and chicken entrails.

Despite being extremely convincing at the beginning, the Alien Autopsy video did more harm to the idea that Earth received visitors. The film showed just how easy it is to fabricate evidence.

The Alien Autopsy Video
via YouTube

What happens when an atheist seeks a good laugh on the back of those that take everything written in Bible for granted?

4. The Cardiff Giant

The Cardiff Giant
via History Things

The Cardiff Giant ranks as one of the greatest American hoaxes, and the story is guaranteed to amaze you.

George Hull spent more than $50,000 on crafting a 3m long petrified man out of stone. He then hid it in the ground and commissioned workers to dig a well in the exact spot.

The highly-realistic giant statue made every good man think of the giants mentioned in the Bible. Although archeologist declared it in one voice to be a fake, nothing could stop the Cardiff Giant from becoming a national sensation.

People flocked from far away to see what they believed to be evidence of Creationism. It started as a prank and evolved to a lucrative deal. Hull sold the statue for ten times the money invested.

The whole thing got even more controversial once a replica made it hard to distinguish the original. The Cardiff Giant remained a sideshow attraction and an awe-inspiring relic for the occasional believer.

The Cardiff Giant
via Flickr

The next case involves a mythical animal that was supposed to be genuine. Another exhibit for the Museum of Hoaxes.

5. The Fiji Mermaid

The Fiji Mermaid
via Wikimedia

Mermaids have tormented the minds of men since times immemorial.

No wonder so many attempted to bring compelling evidence on the altar of science. The Fiji Mermaid is by far the most talked-about incarnation that pushed for an escape from mythology.

The Fiji Mermaid first appeared in private collections around the 1820s and disappeared only two decades later. However, the fuss it created was enough for numerous museums around the world to replicate it and go on a hunt for similar artifacts.

You will be disappointed to know the so-called mermaid was nothing but a monkey’s head sewn to the back of a fish. Islanders from Fiji have an entire ritual dedicated to producing such oddities, and it was the perfect distraction for gullible Westerns of that time.

The Fiji Mermaid
via Flickr

Coming up next is one sick joke that probably claimed many innocent lives and destroyed good jars.

6. Bonsai Kitten

Bonsai Kitten
via Flickr

The Bonsai Kitten hoax comes from that strange part of the Internet where all sorts of wacky ideas reside.

BonsaiKitten.com started as an innocent way of mocking hobbies that have no practical value. The website promised to teach everyone the lost art of growing a kitty in a jar.

While the whole thing was hilarious, animal rights activists could not stop thinking about the fact that there stupid people out were willing to try it at home. After all, we do have pics of the strange practice and its common sense to assume some kitties got hurt in the process.

Numerous servers denied hosting for BonsaiKitten.com, and animal lovers started a witch hunt to find the mysterious Dr. Michael Wong Chang, the alter ego used by the MIT student who started it all.

Dr. Chang confessed his idea came from the Japanese square watermelons that grow to take the form of a jar. Until we see a square cat walking through the neighborhood, we take it as a hoax with no real-life ramifications.

Bonsai Kitten
via Flickr

Movie buffs filled the cinemas when they heard what happened with the three actors. Coming up next is the biggest hoax in Hollywood history.

7. The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project
via IMDb

The Blair Witch Project capitalized on a very smart marketing campaign.

Three students travel to the Black Hills of Maryland to produce a documentary about the local legend knows as the Blair Witch. All of them disappear in mysterious circumstances, and the footage they leave behind becomes the movie.

Producers were so good at selling that story viewers had a difficult time distinguishing between reality and fiction.

Did you ever wonder why today’s movies fail to impress you? It’s because you always know no actor gets hurt while shooting. That is “The Blair Witch Project” changed the rules of the game. It made the audience experience uncertainties, and they all left the theaters biting their nails in anguish.

Although nothing bad happened to the actors, the filming method made their emotions appear genuine. The three were left on their own and got separate instructions on what to do each step of the way.

The Blair Witch Project
via IMDb

The BBC is the best network one can find for accurate news. Even them could not resist an April Fool’s Day hoax.

8. The BBC’s “Spaghetti Tree”

The BBC's "Spaghetti Tree"
via BBC

Everyone probably knows how spaghetti come to being.

However, back in 1957, the British public was just beginning to get accustomed to the wonders of Italian cuisine. For the casual radio listener, it made perfect sense for spaghetti to grow on trees.

There is even a video showing spaghetti picked up from an orchard, dried in the sun, and served later that day. The naughty guys at BBC moved the whole operation to Switzerland (a land known for its quirks) just to make it even more credible.

We have to take a minute and praise the formidable radio worker that managed to pull the 2-minute long bulletin without bursting into laughter. Can you imagine the delight of getting thousands of phone calls from individuals asking advice on how to grow their own spaghetti?

The BBC's "Spaghetti Tree"
via Flickr

UFO enthusiasts will not like the next hoax. Another solid piece of evidence turned out to be crafted by human hands.

9. Crop Circles

Crop Circles
via Circle Makers

Crop circles were not long ago a reputed paranormal phenomenon with little prospects of getting a natural explanation.

Everything changed once “crop circles artists” exchanged the tools of the trade for a shot at fame. In 1991, two hoaxers, Bower and Chorley, took credit for most of the formations that appeared around English fields.

Equipped with rudimentary ropes and wooden planks the two showed just how easy it is to create geometrical patterns under cover of the night. All you need is an excellent sense of direction and proportions. And let’s not forget beeing creative and producing an enigmatic design.

Crop circles evolved from being the “tire marks” of intergalactic visitors to a kind of artwork the farmers will never understand. The plows unearth each spring new dead hippies, a sign that retaliation is on its way to remove crop circles from folklore.

Crop Circles

via Circle MakersFans of cryptozoology will be saddened to cross the next one off the list. It was nothing but a hoax.

10. The Montauk Monster

The Montauk Monster 
via National Geographic

The Montauk Monster is one of the many strange creatures washed up on beaches in recent years.

The American East Coast is particularly fecund in such inexplicable sightings. Montauk, New York kept the headlines back in 2008 when an unknown animal became the poster child for everything science is still unable to explain.

Like it often happens, only photos remained following the sighting. The body disappeared to the underground bunker where they store all the other Bigfoot and alien carcasses.

Most biologists called to examine the beast concluded it was a raccoon. The extended time spent in contact with sea water rendered the animal beyond recognition.

As usual, believers don’t like the common sense explanation. For them, it was only a matter of time before they connected the dots to link the “monster” with the infamous Montauk Experiment.

The Montauk Monster 
via Deviant Art

Coming up next is the biggest hoax in radio history.

11. The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds
via La Pagina 17

1938. The American public was so anxious about the imminence of war it mistaken a radio drama for a real news bulletin.

Before it became a Hollywood film, “The War of the Worlds” book by H.G. Wells first made contact with the public through an anthology of radio episodes.

The one airing on October 30, 1939, was especially scary, mostly because it ran without a commercial break and it depicted scenes of mass destruction happening in cities all across the US. Actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles did a terrific job, and those who tuned in after the initial announcement took everything for granted.

Let’s roll back a bit to a time when there was no Internet to double-check a fact. People only had a radio and their common sense to judge whether something was real or not.

The radio program made many families go to sleep that night fearing the worse. Scenes of how cities like New York and Chicago were ravaged by alien invaders forever gave the American public a fascination towards doomsday scenarios.

The War of the Worlds
via Getty Images

An endangered species turned up to be a hoax justified by an experiment.

12. Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
via Cryptidz

The elusive Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) is a delicious sample of how the Internet can be used to fabricate facts.

Obviously, there is no such thing as a tree octopus. The hoax wanted to test just how easy it is to manipulate masses with information. Almost no one double checks info and that can have dire consequences.

Those who came up with the species outdid themselves. Fake photos, fake articles in old newspapers, and even fake stamps made the Tree Octopus a symbol of the Washington state.

Hoaxers went as far as suggesting that loggers started a veritable witch hunt against the cephalopod, which was labeled the devil of the trees. Made up stories of tree octopuses harassing lumberjacks and distressing damsels are simply hilarious to read.

Hell, they even have an official website which calls for volunteers and activists to unite for ensuring the species will have a future.

Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
via Flickr

Conspiracy theories junkies will have the honors of sending another one to the recycle bin. Although epic, the next story proves to be entirely fake.

13. Apollo 20

Apollo 20
via NASA

Professional hoaxers have better things to do than insisting the moon landings were all fake.

Instead, they added one more to NASA’s collection – the secret Apollo 20. The manned mission reached the dark side of the moon in search of an alien ship that promised to answer the debate once and for all.

Above is the disturbing image of a strange human hybrid dubbed Mona Lisa. She was found frozen on board the lunar craft and taken back to Earth for further studies.

The whole things emerged on YouTube in the form of a documentary. The footage came from NASA, or at least that’s the main argument used by supporters of the theory.

What they failed to acknowledge is that there is no way one can launch a rocket to the moon in secret. Even in the 1970’s astronomers gazed at the skies with their telescope and any object leaving the Earth’s orbit would have left visible signs.

Apollo 20
via YouTube

Hoaxing knows no limits. Check out what Swedish do when they get bored with their perfect lives.

14. Conspiracy’58

Conspiracy’58
via Wikimedia

Conspiracy’58 is a documentary that aired on Swedish national television and made a bold claim.

According to the 2002 mockumentary, the 1958 World Cup hosted by Sweden was nothing but a forged competition. The Scandinavian country cooperated with the US to assemble a conspiracy theory perfect for the Cold War period.

It’s easier to look at the hoax as an experiment. No one told the audience this was not real and even high-rank officials like Lenard Lennart Johansson (UEFA President) took part in the charade.

The prank worked at least for the uneducated segment of the public. Suddenly, memories of Pele holding the Jules Rimet Trophy began to fade. That’s because football was not back then the phenomenon it is today.

Conspiracy’58
via Wikimedia

It was supposed to be the biggest photobomb in history. It turned out to be a hoax that failed in crucial points.

15. Tourist Guy Hoax

Tourist Guy Hoax
via Snopes

The tourist guy prank continues to be a sensitive issue, even 16 years after the tragedy that swept through the center of Manhattan.

A 1997 shot was edited to include an airplane heading towards the Twin Towers. Intended only for close friends the photo went viral once Internet folks acknowledged its potential.

You must be the most unlucky man alive to take a tourist photo seconds before the worst terrorist attack in history.

Let’s break into the facts that revealed the hoax. First of all, the man is clearly overdressed for the weather recorded on 9/11. Second, the plane doesn’t seem to match the model and airline company.

If that doesn’t want, think again at the odds of a compact camera surviving the hell that followed the collapse. Below is another pic, only this time with the correct date.

Tourist Guy Hoax
via Snopes

Digging up fossils is harder than you think. Pitfalls are at every step of the way.

16. The Piltdown Chicken

The Piltdown Chicken
via Museum of Hoaxes

The National Geographic Society held a press conference in October 1999 to introduce a ground-breaking discovery. It turned out to be a hoax.

The Piltdown Chicken was the nickname given to the Archaeoraptor, the presumed missing link between dinosaurs and birds. The prank played by some Chinese paleontologists was so good it went past all editors and even got featured in one edition of National Geographic.

You can picture the Piltdown Chicken Hoax as leaving your KFC bucket in a museum right next to dinosaur skeleton. Scientist eager to prove a point are always there to fall for it.

Errors happen, especially when you deal with fossils going back hundreds of millions of years into the past. Impatience was the culprit here. They rushed to print and failed to wait for peer-reviews.

 

The Piltdown Chicken
via La Stampa

Hoaxes get even better when they involve a celeb. Check out just how pivotal Photoshop editing can be!

17. Stop Being Poor

Stop Being Poor
via Museum of Hoaxes

Paris Hilton appeared wearing a t-shirt with “Stop Being Poor” setting fire to the Internet.

Watching spoiled celebs thrash their money and set a monopoly on tabloids is one thing. Them telling you what to do is another. Is it even remotely possible to wake up one day and stop being poor?

The guy who orchestrated the transition from “Stop Being Desperate” to “Stop Being Poor” deserves a medal. That’s a sign of a genius at work.

The catchphrase was so widely popular it became a meme. Even Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Paul Ryan fell victim to the many faces of the gag – Republican economics at its finest.

Stop Being Poor
via Twitter

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