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FORGOTTEN RUSES THAT FOOLED THE WORLD

Added on: 7th Nov 2016

 

THE MAN-EATING TREE OF MADAGASCAR

The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar

On April 28, 1874, the New York World ran an article

announcing a German explorer’s discovery in

Madagascar of a remarkable new plant species: a

man-eating tree. The article included a gruesome

description of a woman fed to the plant by members

of the local Mkodos tribe. The story was debunked in

1955 by a science writer named Willy Ley, who

discovered that not only were the tribe and the tree

made up, but so was the German explorer who

supposedly found them.

 

 

THE LYING STONES OF DR. BERINGER

The Lying Stones of Dr. Beringer

Beringer’s Lying Stones are pieces of limestone carved

into the shape of various animals, discovered in 1725

by Dr. Beringer, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the

University of W├╝rzburg. Beringer believed them to be

fossils and because some also bore the name of God in

Hebrew, suggested they might be of divine origin.

In fact, he was the victim of a hoax, perpetrated on him

by his colleagues the ex-Jesuit J. Ignatz Roderick,

professor of geography and mathematics, and Johann

Georg von Eckhart, privy councillor and university librarian.

Upon discovering the truth, Beringer took them to court

and the scandal that followed left all three in disgrace.

 

 

THE LOST ISLAND OF HY-BRASIL

The Lost Island of Hi-Brazil

Hy-Brasil is a phantom island believed to lie in the Atlantic

west of Ireland. Irish myths describe it as cloaked in mist

except for one day every seven years, when it supposedly

becomes visible but still unreachable.

 

 

THE LETTER OF PRESTER JOHN

The Letter of Prester John

This letter was supposedly written to the Byzantine emperor

Manuel I Comnenus (1143–1180) by Prester John, descendant

of one of the Three Magi and king of India. The many

marvels of richness and magic it contained captured the

European imagination, and it was translated into many

languages. Part of the letter’s essence was that a lost

kingdom of Nestorian Christians still existed in the

vastness of Central Asia. As for who really wrote

this letter? That remains a mystery to this day.

 

 

THE HOLY PREPUCE

The Holy Prepuce

The Holy Prepuce, also known as the Holy Foreskin,

was one of many relics attributed to Jesus, a product

of his circumcision. Especially during the Middle Ages,

many European churches claimed to possess his foreskin,

sometimes simultaneously. Of course, it eventually

proved to be a hoax.

 

 

THE GREAT MOON HOAX

The Great Moon Hoax

The Great Moon Hoax, which shouldn’t be confused with

moon-landing conspiracy theories, was a series of six

articles published in The Sun, a New York newspaper,

beginning on August 25, 1835, about the supposed

discovery of life and even civilizations on the moon.

The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel,

one of the best-known astronomers of his day.

 

 

THE GHOSTLY DRUMMER OF TEDWORTH

The Ghostly Drummer of Tedworth

The Ghostly Drummer of Tedworth was a case of suspected

poltergeist activity. In the early 1660’s John Mompesson of

Wiltshire began to hear strange noises in his home. There

was the sound of a drum beating, as well as scratching

and panting noises. Objects seemed to move on their own

and sometimes a strange sulphurous smell lingered in the air.

Sceptics, of which there were many, dismissed the whole

thing as a hoax, because as usually happens in such

cases, there was not enough proof.

 

 

THE FORTSAS BIBLIOHOAX

The Fortsas Bibliohoax

The Fortsas hoax refers to an incident in Binche, Belgium,

in 1840. That year, booksellers, librarians and collectors

of rare books throughout Europe received a catalogue

describing a collection of rare books to be auctioned.

According to the message a man named Jean Nepomucene

Auguste Pichauld, Comte de Fortsas, had been a

collector of unique books, books of which only one

copy was known to exist. When he died, on September 1,

1839, he was in possession of fifty-two such books. His heirs,

not interested in collecting books, had decided to auction

the collection. The auction was to be held on August 10, 1840,

but when the many collectors gathered in Binche hoping to bid

on the books, they discovered they had been the victims

of a man who loved pranking people.

 


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