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Hoaxes are part of human history. For different reasons, at different times, some people have created a false event and
have tried to convince others that it was a true event. Humans have believed unbelievable stories. Some hoaxes are funny and
others are serious.
One famous hoax was about the Moon. In 1835, the New York Sun newspaper ran some stories that were supposedly reprinted
from a non-existent science journal. These articles documented discoveries supposedly made by a real scientist, Sir John Herschel,
from a new telescope in Africa. Sir John was actually in Africa at the time and was unable to read the stories that carried
his name. The newspaper articles described Moon oceans, beaches, wild life and birds. One article had this immensely powerful
telescope spotting 14 furry winged men! How big would a telescope have to be to sight individual beings on the Moon? It seems
that questions did not pop into everyone's head! The story of men on the Moon was wildly popular. The Sun sold more newspapers
that day than any other newspaper in the world. The articles continued to describe architecture and other details until the
last installment claimed that the telescope had been left facing east and the Sun's rays had damaged the telescope beyond
repair. Later, a Richard Locke confessed to writing the articles and the newspaper admitted it was a hoax. People were not
angry; most people thought that it was funny and the Sun became an even more popular newspaper!
Another hoax has been called the grand science hoax of the century. In 1913, an amateur archeologist brought in some fragments
of a human skull to the British museum. Remember, this was before the days of carbon dating. Found near an archeological site
called Piltdown, this skull and jaw were soon known as "Piltdown Man". What made this find remarkable was that the skull had
a huge brain cavity and a jawbone like an ape's -- but the teeth were worn down like a human's. This find was quickly locked
away for safety. Unable to examine the evidence, scientists theorized that "Piltdown Man" proved that the human brain evolved
first and then the rest of the body. In 1953, "Piltdown Man" was shown to be a forgery; the human skull was modern, the jaw
belonged to an ape, and the teeth had been filed. The biggest mystery remaining around this hoax is: who did it? And why did
they do it?
Some hoaxes have exploited myths. Loch Ness is a large lake in Scotland, and for years it was a quiet place. A photograph
of a dinosaur-like creature with a long neck was published in 1934. This photo created a sensation -- promoting tourist visits
and scientific expeditions that continue to this day. Sixty years later, one of the pranksters confessed that the photo had
been created using a tiny homemade sea serpent and a toy submarine! The public reaction had been so great at the time of publication,
that the pranksters had decided to keep quiet.
Some pranksters do strange things. For years, some wheat fields in England were mysteriously mowed in such a way as to
suggest circles. Some people believed that the circles were alien messages, ancient symbols, or alien DNA. In 1991, two men
admitted to mowing over 250 crop circles over the years. Why do you think they took the time and effort to make these crop
Other hoaxes are more serious and frightening. In the middle ages, witch crazes in England and America resulted in witch
hunts, witchcraft trials, and executions. Recently, one group says that Hitler did not kill 5 to 6 million Jews during World
War II; they claim that Jews are making it up. They claim that the Jews are attempting to cultivate power through sympathy.
Sadly, witches and Jews were killed.
What can we learn from hoaxes? We can learn the importance of consistently examining evidence and forming our own opinions.
Look at the pictures yourself. Read the accounts by the witnesses. Evaluate the interpretations. Does it make sense? Is it
logical? Is there consistency in the evidence? Are there any contradictions to the evidence? It is important that you draw
your own conclusions. Always keep thinking!
Teacher Lesson Plans: Hoax Happens
Since 9/11 a term has gained momentum: Conspiracy Theory. It is used to denounce all those who doubt the official
version of the 19 hijackers attacking America.
Don't forget, "conspiracy theory" is a label, not a crime! It is a 'tag' first implemented by the mass media during the
public's interest and questions of the rush to judgement in the JFK Assassination. This moniker was/is used to berate those
inquiring minds who find the conclusions of the Warren Commission and similar inquiries unbelievable.
Currently, the issues in question are the so called "facts" put out by government and media regarding 9/11 and the preemptive
attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Even a 'potted plant' would question these theories.
Instead of proving these conspiracy theorists wrong by presenting evidence like video footage that would clearly show
a boeing approaching the pentagon, the Bush administration did everything possible to the contrary by only releasing those
video frames that couldn't be used to prove the opposite.
The Bush administration had all the necessary evidence to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt what happened on
9/11 yet all they did was to hinder every investigation. On top of it the so called "conspiracy theorists" became target to
threats, job loss, and character assasinations.
It is much less the doubts of the offical version that raises the suspicion of a cover-up or even an insider job, but the
reaction to these doubts by those in charge.
Simple logic tells us that there is something terribly wrong but without access to all the evidence it is difficult to
prove. Instead of calling this effort a consiracy I would rather describe it as the effort or conspiracy to uncover a conspiracy
On the following pages we will present historical events that should be under close scrunity for the possibility of
an exaggeration for political reasons, or even a hoax - not only for the doubts on the official version of the story,
but also for the fact that the reaction on these doubts meets the same criteria.
As the official versions are mostly well known, we will restrict our posting to contradicting articles and/or videos for
their arguments are hardly presented in the Mainstream Media.
Compare the evidence that is presented with what you have been told and make up your own mind. If you have doubts, check
the information available on the internet, start asking questions and demand answers.
Don't take anything at face value for we all know, hoax happens.