Hoaxes are essentially pranks that are pulled on large groups of people, sometimes worldwide. Some of the most famous worldwide hoaxes known have happened before the era of the Internet, such as “The Turk” automated chess playing machine who bested even the likes of Benjamin Franklin. The Cardiff Giant was another hoax that ended up earning some serious cash. Learning about some of the most well-known hoaxes is a way to see how quickly news, information, as well as rumors can spread. It also shows how easily people can be fooled into believing the fantastic is real.
1932: A Photograph of the Loch Ness Monster?
One of the most famous photographs of the proclaimed “Loch Ness Monster” was taken in 1934 by a British surgeon named Colonel Robert Wilson. The surgeon himself claimed to have witnessed the Loch Ness monster, and he just so happened to have his camera on him and began taking pictures. The photograph has been steadily debated over the past 60 years.
1938: When Martians Attack
The day before Halloween in 1938, a radio broadcast had interrupted the traditional radio news broadcast, claiming that the planet Earth was under attack by aliens, or martians. Because of the limited resources of news in 1938, thousands of people who missed the introduction reacted in hysteria, panicking, clogging the roads and fleeing from their houses. However, the radio broadcast was actually an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic “The War of the Worlds”, narrated by Orson Welles.
2006: Lonely Girl on YouTube
In 2006, one of the biggest online hoaxes emerged, with YouTube creator “LonelyGirl15″. The user “lonelygirl15″ created a series of videos where she portrayed a lonely 16-year old girl posting her everyday happenings. The show began to take a turn when the user starting blogging about how her parents had gone missing. The show on YouTube was discovered as a hoax just four months after launching, revealing lonelygirl15 as an actress who had taken on the project as an experiment.
2012: Justin Bieber is Bald?
In 2012, an image that had been photoshopped of Justin Bieber appeared within “Entertainment Tonight’s” Twitter feed. The Twitter stream exploded with the hashtag “#baldforbieber”, causing controversy among many “Beliebers” who believed the singer and pop star had in fact, been diagnosed with cancer. The hashtag led to thousands of responses, many of Bieber’s fans shaving their own heads to support him in the nonexistent battle of cancer.
There are plenty more hoaxes that have fooled tons of people around the world, and of course there will be more to come. There seems to be an innate desire in people to want to believe the sensational, fantastic, and even downright impossible. While being a skeptic can keep you from falling victim to a hoax, sometimes it’s the so called “proof” that tugs at the imagination and pulls you in. The world is a gullible place.