Anyone can pull pranks on their friends and family and be branded as the family prankster, but did you know that throughout history there are many such instances when people have fooled not only the general public but also the experts. Now just imagine the planning and organization needed to pull off a prank that even the experts cannot identify. To us, that is so crazy and amazing. Anyone can replace cream from an Oreo with toothpaste but not everybody can pull off a hoax that will make them remembered throughout history. Where there are many legitimate discoveries, there have been many hoaxes too that had the experts scratching their heads. Let’s look at the 15 most clever hoaxes that even the experts believed. Our personal favourite is the one with spaghetti. We genuinely wish we could grow spaghetti in our backyards. That way, every day would be meatballs and spaghetti Monday.
15. Italy’s Pasta Garden
In 1957, BBC News aired a report that due to mild weather, the Swiss spaghetti crops are flourishing. They even went as far as showing footage of peasants pulling the spaghetti strands from the trees. Even the director-general of BBC News believed this story and he checked an encyclopedia to see if it was true or not. Much to his surprise, the encyclopedia did not have any information regarding this. Many people believed this story and called the BBC to ask how to grow spaghetti. They told the people to put a strand of spaghetti in tomato sauce and pray. Now it’s almost insane that people would actually believe such preposterous claims. But we guess if it’s on the BBC, it must be true, right?!
14. Piltdown Man
Scientists have been long at work to find the missing link, which is a fossil that will seal the argument for human evolution. In 1912, a scientist Charles Dawson found a human skull with the jaw of an ape. It rocked the scientific community and soon after, these heads started popping up all around the globe. In Africa and China, to the surprise of experts, the new-found skulls were the opposite of the skull found before. They were ape skulls fused with human jaws. After conducting tests a few centuries later, scientists were able to conclude that these weren’t actual skulls at all. Rather, they were just a combination of an ape jaw and a human skull put together. No explanation could be found as to why someone would do this, but it is baffling how people blindly believed in these “discoveries” without testing their authenticity. People must have been really simple-minded back then.
13. Worst Bestseller
The idea behind the worst bestseller came from Mike McGrady. He was surprised and infuriated by the fact that such poorly written novels are selling out over quality fiction books. He took it upon himself to write the worst book ever with the help of his 12 colleagues. Since he and his colleagues were columnists, this meant that they had good writing skills. They edited each chapter to make it nonsensical. Each writer wrote his own chapter separately so that no chapter made any sense. And to his surprise, his book sold 20,000 copies when it first hit the stores. It also stayed on the New York bestseller list for 13 weeks. He concluded that as long as you put sufficient sexual salacious material in it, it is bound to sell. We guess he was right.
12. Genius Math Horse
Von Osten was a math teacher and he was determined to prove animal intelligence. He trained a horse to add, subtract, multiply and read German. Von Osten held events to display his student’s intelligence. The horse could calculate math problems by tapping his hoof. He became a national sensation. Because of his intelligence, he was given the name of Clever Hans. However, his glory was short lived when a psychology student debunked this by proving that the horse could pick up facial cues from his master. Osten refuted this allegation and went about saying that his horse is really gifted. He continued parading his magnificent beast before crowds all over America.
11. You ain’t got the rock
When we hear the name Rolling Stone, we think of the top-notch music writing. Well in 1969, a Rolling Stone editor pranked the world with a made up, non-existent album featuring big names like Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. This album did not exist but he published a review about it. It attracted so much attention and was so overhyped that Warner Bros gave $15,000 to have musicians make this album based on the reviews. This album was released later on and it sold 100,000 copies and it was awful. But because it had such big names attached to it, it was bound to make waves.
10. Tree-dwelling octopus
On the official website of this tree-dwelling octopus, it says that this octopus spends most of its time in trees and feasts on rodents and frogs. But it is facing extinction because this species are a major food source for Bigfoot. Did we get you there?! This made up creature was brought to life by Lyle Zapato. He doesn’t only put hoaxes on the Internet but also gives enough references and external links to make his hoaxes seem legitimate. Many people are convinced by his meticulous pranks and because of his extensive references, most people blindly believe in his claims without doing any proper research.
9. A million-year-old skull
In 1866, a miner came across a human skull buried 40 meters deep. It was later said to be covered with volcanic ash which indicated that it had to be the skull of the oldest human. Later, this discovery was said to be legitimate. Geologists stated that it was 5 to 25 million years old. After basking in the glory of discovering an ancient skull, the miner confessed later that he had stolen the skull from a Native American burial site and had buried it as a practical joke. Well if that doesn’t lift your trust from mankind, we don’t know what to tell you.
8. Red Record
In 1836, Constantine Rafinesque wrote a history book called the Red Record. It was about the history of the Lenape Native American Tribe. The book had everything from their creation to how they entered the new world. It had everything and for centuries it was used by historians, anthropologists, and archeologists. He revealed that his source was wooden plaques that he received from a doctor who got them from a Native American as pay. Later in the 20th century, it was revealed that the book was a hoax and it had no truth. It was first written in English and then translated into the Lenape Native American language. Now that’s dedication, my friend.
7. Modigliani’s Sculptures
In 1909, Modigliani left his hometown after he got bad reviews about his sculptures. Legend has it that he threw his sculptures in a canal. At his 100th celebration, the city council decided to look for his deserted sculptures. After an 8-day hunt, they found these sculptures. They were later reviewed by the experts who concluded that they were authentic. The experts went so far as to state that Modigliani was right to throw them away because they were so badly made. Later on, 3 students came forward and confessed that they had made those sculptures along with a local artist who had made 2. They did this to pull a prank on the art critics.
6. The Brass Plate
In the early 1930s, a distinguished history professor was fixated on finding a brass plate that Francis Drake planted in California upon reaching the area. He instructed his students to find that brass plate but none of them did. Later, his colleagues decided to play a practical joke on him and made the brass plate according to the descriptions and buried it in a likely site. When a man discovered this brass plate, he brought it to the professor. He was delighted beyond measure and presented it before the history department at California History Society. They donated money to buy it for the library only to find out 40 years later that it was a modern version. Meaning it was a hoax.
5. Terracotta Warriors
John Marshall purchased artifacts for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, which included 3 Terracotta warriors that were said to be created in fifth century BC. He said that there was nothing more important than these warriors and that they were invaluable historical relics. Experts were called in to examine these warriors, and they were deemed to be authentic. However, soon after this primary examination, rumors started spreading that these warriors were fake. Later when they were tested, they contained an element called magnesium that was not used in fifth century BC. Thanks to the careful investigation, it was found out that they had been forged.
4. The Brimstone butterfly
In 1702, a butterfly was sent to an entomologist. The entomologist was delighted to state that he had never seen anything like it before, as it had black dots on its wings. After much examination and investigation, the new butterfly was accepted as a new species. Naturally, it was added to and displayed at the 12th edition of Centuria Insectorum. 30 years later, another entomologist declared that this butterfly was a fake. He supported his claims by proving that the black dots were nothing but ordinary ink. When the British museum curator heard this news, he literally smashed the butterfly in the ground.
3. Cottingley Fairies
The Cottingley Fairies were 5 photographs taken by two cousins who lived in England. They had taken these photographs at their house. Their father was the first engineer; they borrowed his camera and used it to capture the pictures. The pictures were of fairies that were living in their house. When the father saw these pictures, he banned them from going outside. But their mother believed them. She believed that the fairies were real. Years later, the sisters confessed that 4 of the 5 photographs were fake but the fifth one was original and it had real fairies in it.
2. Alien Autopsy
In 1995 Ray Santini claimed that he had uncovered a video of an alien autopsy right after the Rosavelt UFO incident. He invited media representatives to watch the video at the Museum of London. Later he revealed that the video was a fake and it was directed in a flat in London. Santini claimed that’s some of the scenes had been orchestrated which included casts full of sheep brains and knuckle joints. Santini hired a sculptor and an artist to make two alien bodies. It is beyond us why somebody would elaborately scheme and go through such misery only to expose himself later?!
1. Figi Mermaid
Nowadays mermaids are the in thing. Whether it’s a costume party or just a night on the town, people love dressing up as sparkly mystical mermaids. In 1882 the mummified body of a mermaid was found. This specimen made its rounds around the country and stirred some excitement. However, it’s days in the sun were limited as the mermaid was later revealed to be the work of an Indonesian artisan. The artisan had created this mummified mermaid by using fish scales of exotic fish and attacking them to a torso which was then stitched to the head of a monkey. Sounds pretty gross, but it was enough to fool an entire country for a while.
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