Remember – Don’t Believe Everything You Read…
There has been many an elaborate hoax throughout history, and some have fooled the entire world into thinking that they were real. These scientific scandals should always be a reminder to view any crazy new scientific discovery with at least a degree of skepticism. Here are 10 of the biggest scientific hoaxes in history:
1. Johann Beringer’s lying stones (1725)
Back in the 1700s, a group of students came across almost 2,000 stones on the outskirts of a Bavarian town. They were taken to Johann Beringer, the chair of natural history at the University of Wurzburg. The curious artifacts were engraved with lizards, birds, spiders and other depictions, leading Beringer to speculate that they couldn’t possibly have been man-made, and theorizing that that the stones were relics of the Great Flood.
Probably the most embarrassing part of the whole affair was that just as Beringer’s book on the stones was published, the students brought him one last stone, which turned out to have his name carved on it. The elaborate hoax was actually the work of two of his colleagues.
2. Perpetual motion machine (1813)
A man named Charles Redheffer claimed he had created a machine that was capable of remaining in perpetual motion without an external source of energy acting upon it. Skepticism rose with near-immediacy, regarding the device. A man called Robert Fulton challenged Redheffer by telling him that he was convinced he could find the mechanism responsible for keeping the machine in motion.
While Redheffer scoffed at him at first, it would be Fulton who had the last laugh. The perpetual motion machine’s source of kinetic energy turned out to be an old man in an attic turning a crank.