Since this is Facebook, I’m sure you’ve all seen all these hoaxes that are posted from time to time, which usually spread like wild fire. Hell, you might have even fallen for a couple of them. Miraculous cures for cancer, various fake news reports, conspiracy theories, fake contests, and so on. Some are harmless, some are extremely dangerous, and although there are people and sites who dedicate their time debunking them, there are always people who will believe everything that’s being served to them, as long as it is done in a seemingly professional manner. The intent of those spreading these hoaxes can vary, from clickbaits for financial gain, to outright spreading chaos and pushing agendas. Is this phenomenon new though? Nope!

The year is 1835, and the place is New York city. In the headquarters of the newspaper “New York Sun”, someone came up with an ingenious idea.. an idea that would not only increase the paper’s circulation, but an idea that could potentially cause a world wide sensation.

Here are the facts:

a) Sir John Herschel was a world famous astronomer.
b) In 1834 he had traveled to Cape Town in South Africa, in order to set up a new observatory with a new telescope.
That’s about it, not much isn’t it?

Here’s the story as posted by the “New York Sun”…
A non existing Dr. Andrew Grant , who was supposedly working with Herschel, reported to a not-more-existing paper called “The Edinburgh Journal of Science” that Herschel had been able to see details on the surface of the moon, with his new powerful telescope.

The reports were coming daily, and in the course of six different articles, the readers were introduced gradually to a brand new world. It seems that this telescope was indeed very powerful and Herschel was firstly able to spot vegetation, rivers, and huge formations of amethyst. As he was adjusting his telescope better, he started observing unicorns, blue goats, biped beavers, and other unknown animals. The descriptions were getting even more detailed, revealing towns and various buildings, and then came the jewel in the crown… Humanoids! According to those reports Herschel was able to spot humanoids with bat wings, which most likely were waving back at him!

Ok, I know this sounds silly. No modern human would fall for this, right? Hm, considering that as I write this there are people out there who believe that the Earth is flat, I beg you to think deeper.

Needless to say, this report was a huge success, and it managed to spread globally, although it took longer time than it would have now. Although the paper eventually admitted to setting up what would become known as “The Great Moon Hoax”, I’m sure that some of our ancestors dismissed the explanations of the paper, and said “they are hiding the truth from us”, while blowing their pipe smoke at the lit fireplace. Since all of them were dead before the first moon landing, I bet they died with the firm belief that a bat-winged humanoid is looking after them. If they had lived enough to see the actual coverage, maybe they would have changed their minds…oh, wait!

First published: 11/9/2017