A Guide to Pop Culture's Biggest Hoaxes

Nine great ruses from the pre-Internet age—back when people did believe everything they read.

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This week, 177 years ago, a series of articles were published in the New York Sun that reported on the discovery of life on the Moon, attributed to well-know astronomer Sir John Herschel. Stories about unicorns, strange humanoids, and entire civilizations described a strange, new world—and newspaper sales skyrocketed. What was intended as a satire—believed to be crafted by a Cambridge-educated reporter—became one of the earliest hoaxes in history, the truth not revealed until weeks later. Since then, and thanks in part to that lovely invention called the Internet, we've become far more jaded and skeptical when it comes to outlandish claims in media. Still, there have been many elaborate hoaxes over time that duped us for fun, profit, and sometimes accidentally. We shared several of pop culture's biggest hoaxes.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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