Great Scams in History

The Great Moon Hoax

On August 25, 1835 the first of a fantastic series of articles was published. Supposedly written by a Dr. Andrew Grant and published in the Edinburgh Journal of Science, this series of articles claimed Sir John Herschel had discovered a vast array of life on the moon; including unicorns, biped beavers, and furry winged humanoid bats. He did all this from an observatory he had built in Cape Town, South Africa.

About a month later, on September 16, the Sun reported that the articles had been fictional. While Sir John Herschel was real and had, in fact, built an observatory in Cape Town to study the moon, the rest of the story was made up. Not maliciously so. The articles were most likely written by staff reporter Richard Adams Locke, who meant them as a satire on the popular notion of the time that life did exist on the moon. One contemporary proponent of the moon life theory, Reverend Thomas Dick, claimed that there were 4.2 billion inhabitants of the moon. The fantastic creatures, rushing rivers, giant amethyst crystals, and lush vegetation were meant to poke fun at those that claimed the moon — a barren and cheese-filled planetoid — could support life.

Frankly, I’m concerned the moon, with it’s undead geography, will play a major role in the rise of the zombie apocalypse.

[Image Credit: Public Domain]

  • dmilligan

    Celestial bodies really seem to stir the imaginations of people, and have throughout our history. It is still happening today, too. Remember "The Face on Mars" nonsense from a few years back? Some people still believe that it's evidence of intelligent life on Mars, and won't listen to anything debunking it. Stupid, gullible humans. Sigh.
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  • Deartháir

    At least we have proof that there is cheese on the moon…

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    • dmilligan

      I'm not eating any cheese that has had a dog's butt on it.

  • OA5599

    [youtube 7JDaOOw0MEE youtube]

    • chrystlubitshi

      those corsetted, trophy-presenting (okay… so they're telescopic looking glasses… not trophies… but they look weird), moon-beauties with the booties are exactly what i expect to find when we colonize the moon.

      also… is it wrong that i like it (almost cheer) when the moon gets it in the eye?

    • FЯeeMan

      That's a lot of music for a silent movie.

      Also, it's thoroughly amazing to me that one year after this movie, Orville & Wilbur mastered controlled heavier-than-air flight, and a mere 67 years later, we actually landed men on the moon.

  • craigsu

    Biped beavers, eh? Oh wait, you mean those dam-building animals…