Sometimes even the best scientists can get tricked into believing various fraudulent information, especially if someone tricks them on purpose. Some of the hoaxes like the notorious Sokal affair or Beringer's Lying Stones are prime examples of such mischievous acts.
Some hoaxes can be very dangerous and leave lasting social repercussions and material loss. These are some of the ones we consider to be the most famous in the scientific world.
8. Vaccines And Autism
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield wrote a paper that was published in a medical journal called "The Lancet," claiming a connection between autism and the MMR vaccines. The article was successful in convincing many people such a connection actually exists, and it helped boost various anti-vaccine movements, as well as shake the public confidence in vaccines. It was eventually proved that Wakefield's paper contained many fallacious data, which resulted in its withdrawal.
7. The Extinction Of Blondes
This peculiar hoax was conducted in the year 2002 when many media sources published allegedly scientific proof about the endangerment and extinction of humans with blonde hair. These weird claims of "dying genes" were even supported by a fake WHO (World Health Organization) report that predicted a similar disappearance of the blonde hair gene by 2202. Of course, no such report ever existed, as confirmed by WHO.
6. Wurzburg Fossils
Also called Beringer's Lying Stones are fake fossils made of fragments of limestone, discovered in 1725 by Johann Beringer from the University of Würzburg.
Beringer was a victim of a prank orchestrated by his colleagues, as they carefully planted those fossils on Mount Eibelstadt, a place where Beringer conducted his excavation work. He was very disappointed and angry upon finding out about the prank, taking his mischievous colleagues to court.
5. Hermippus Redivivus
Hermippus Redivivus is a paper written by an 18th-century physician Johann Heinrich Cohausen. In his paper, Cohausen wrote about the concept of immortality, suggesting to know the secrets of prolonging human life with the help of a mysterious elixir, made from the breaths of young women.
The physician admitted it was all a hoax towards the end of his paper, making those that were thirsty for some breaths and immortality very disappointed.
4. The Poisonous Tree
In 1783, N.P. Foersch, a Dutch surgeon, claimed that there was a poisonous tree located on the island of Java, killing everything that comes close to its proximity. The information about the Upas tree was eventually published in the London Magazine and thus starting one of the most enduring European hoaxes.
3. The Sokal Hoax
American physicist Alan Sokal gained much of the scientific attention in 1996 when he decided to play a prank on his fellow academics. Sokal was not a big fan of the movement of postmodernism, so he deliberately wrote an article that made no sense, sending it to an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies called Social Text.
The article was eventually published, and Sokal succeeded in his attempt to deceive both the readers and the editors of the journal, sparking many debates on academic ethics.
2. Half-Man, Half-Ape
The hoax, also known as the "Piltdown Man," was a fake discovery of fossils by the hands of an amateur paleontologist Charles Dawson, in 1912. The mysterious fossils were supposed to represent the "missing link" in human evolution.
Unfortunately, the whole discovery was exposed as a scientific fraud 40 years later, and the mysterious creature found was just a construction made from an orangutan and human bones.
1. Seawater Gold Rush
In 1872, Edward Sonstadt, a British chemist, discovered concentrations of gold in seawater, creating a gold rush among the people in the 19th century. The largest attempt to mine the oceans that were supposedly holding large concentrations of gold happened in the 1890s when Prescott Ford Jernegan informed the public about his new invention, the "Gold Accumulator," which was supposed to gather the gold from seawater.
Building further on his lies, Jernegan, along with his friend Charles Fisher, started a company called the Electrolytic Marine Salts Company, tricking many investors and people who came to work. When their foul deeds were exposed, Jernegan decided to hide in Europe, and his friend disappeared as well.
What is the "Piltdown Man?"
The hoax, also known as the "Piltdown Man," was a fake discovery of fossils by an amateur paleontologist Charles Dawson in 1912.
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