The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

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posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 08:38 PM
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Long before any moon landing conspiracy theories could even be imagined, a moon hoax was played out on the people of the New York area by some clever journalists.

Starting in August 1835, the New York Sun newspaper printed a series of articles purportedly copied from a Scottish science journal under the title:


GREAT ASTRONOMICAL DISCOVERIES
LATELY MADE
BY SIR JOHN HERSCHEL, L.L.D. F.R.S. &c.

At the Cape of Good Hope



The first segment detailed how astronomer Sir John Herschel had made amazing new discoveries using a "telescope of vast dimensions and an entirely new principle" that would change science forever. The first article was quite interesting, but didn't really give much of an indication to what fantastical "news" lay ahead for its readers.

Over the following weeks, New Yorkers were avidly reading about how Herschel used his new telescope built in Africa to view an amazing array of life forms existing on the moon. From fields of poppies to herds of bison-like and goat-like animals roaming prairies of grass, the moon was teeming with life -- all meticulously described in quite scientific-sounding language.

But the real surprise was still yet to come. The moon, according to the Sun, was inhabited by fire-wielding beaver-like and winged bat-like humanoids! Again, their bodily appearances, behavior, technology, buildings, etc. were detailed in quite professionally sounding flowery language, for example:



"But we had not far to seek for inhabitants of this `Vale of the Triads.' Immediately on the outer border of the wood which surrounded, at a distance of half a mile, the eminence on which the first of these temples stood, we saw several detached assemblies of beings whom we instantly recognized to be of the same species as our winged friends of the Ruby Colosseum near the lake Langrenus. Having adjusted the instrument for a minute examination, we found that nearly all the individuals in these groups were of larger stature than the former specimens, less dark in color, and in every respect an improved variety of the race. They were chiefly engaged in eating a large yellow fruit like a gourd, sections of which they divided with their fingers, and ate with rather uncouth voracity, throwing away the rind. A smaller red fruit, shaped like a cucumber, which we had often seen pendant from trees having a broad dark leaf, was also lying in heaps in the centre of several of the festive groups; but the only use they appeared to make of it was sucking its juice, after rolling it between the palms of their hands and nibbling off an end.

From: The New York Sun, August 31, 1835


The hoax eventually came to an end, although the publishers never explicitly admitted it was a publicity stunt to increase their circulation (apparently very successfully, reportedly going from around 4,000 to over 19,000 over the six week run, although the exact number is disputed). However before its end, other papers jumped on the bandwagon by printing their own life-on-the-moon stories and a group of scientists from Yale University came to the paper's offices asking to investigate the original articles.

The public was apparently amused, and the Sun kept most of its new readers.


Such a simplistic plot is unlikely to be successful in today's well-connected world, but it does give insight into how easily people can believe incredible things. Plus, for some reason, I found this to be extremely funny!


Sources:
The Museum of Hoaxes (includes all the original articles)
E-Telescope
Wikipedia



[edit on 1/31/2007 by djohnsto77]




posted on Jan, 31 2007 @ 09:57 PM
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Great Post!


I can't believe people don't believe we landed on the moon, what I find fascinating is the reports of UFO's along the way!



posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 03:02 AM
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Very interesting story. So they pulled off this stunt in 1835? Wow! I've never heard about it before.



posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 02:12 PM
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Thanks very much for posting this. It brought back a very old memory of looking at a book in elementary school that first got me interested in space exploration and astronomy. I'm pretty sure the book was "Moon Exloration Fact and Fantasy".

In addressing some of the fantasies, it provided sketches that I believe originated with the New York Sun hoax.

Here are couple of those sketches:







Thanks again, great post.

[edit on 2/1/2007 by darkbluesky]



posted on Feb, 1 2007 @ 02:15 PM
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What do you mean hoax?

Those fire-wielding beaver-like and winged bat-like humanoids are real i tell you.

deny ignorance



posted on Feb, 4 2007 @ 09:28 AM
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I too had not heard of this admitted hoax. It Brings to mind the saying of PT Barnum "There is a sucker born every minute".

If the circulation figures are correct; based on the estimated population figures for NY in 1800 (60,000) which probably grew too at least 300,000 bye 1835 would mean the paper made a good profit from the articles.

And too think this all took place long before Jules Verne. wrote 20,000 leagues under the sea.


This now begs the question; Was it really a Hoax?

What if it really happened and what if they covered it all up?



posted on Feb, 4 2007 @ 08:03 PM
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Since the articles did eventually find their way to the real John Herschel who said something like his observations have never been that interesting, I think it was a hoax.

Thanks for all the kind words though, I had never heard of this either until a few days ago and thought other ATSers would like it as well.



posted on Feb, 4 2007 @ 08:06 PM
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Well Fox pretends they report "fair and balanced" news in order to garner ratings.



posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 06:39 AM
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Originally posted by grover
Well Fox pretends they report "fair and balanced" news in order to garner ratings.

Yeah but that's fox news you're talking about
what makes you think they give real news at all?

Oh yeah, and one of the above posters said they can't believe people who don't believe we didn't land on the moon, well, and I agree, those people probably think it's crazy because they never lived in America so they don't know how highly advanced our technology is and how rich we are and how we can afford that so easily now these days.



posted on Feb, 7 2007 @ 07:00 AM
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I never thought fox gives real news at all I know better. Bill O'Rielly a serious news commentator? ROTFLMAO!!!



posted on Feb, 8 2007 @ 12:48 AM
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Enjoyable read. Thanks for posting it.


It reminds me of some guys putting lighted boxes under overpasses to get publicity. It worked and cost the city a half million

[edit on 8-2-2007 by Sun Matrix]



posted on Feb, 13 2007 @ 11:12 AM
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Originally posted by shots
This now begs the question; Was it really a Hoax?

What if it really happened and what if they covered it all up?


You know, maybe I'll declare myself to have god-like powers, but then deny it in a press release.

Before long, I'll have an army of followers, who 'know' that the release was just a cover up of the truth.

Man, people will believe anything.



posted on Feb, 27 2007 @ 11:55 PM
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Originally posted by grover
I never thought fox gives real news at all I know better. Bill O'Rielly a serious news commentator? ROTFLMAO!!!


What does FOX News have to do with this subject? This occurred like a century and a half before FOX News Channel was even a glimmer in Rupert Murdoch's eye.

[edit on 2/27/2007 by djohnsto77]



posted on Mar, 1 2007 @ 06:45 AM
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Thanks for the story, that's pretty funny
.
Sureley, nobody could get away with anything like that today.
It reminds me a bit of the April Fools Day hoax by Panorama (BBC) in 1957. They were reporting on harvesting Spaghetti from trees and as this was a new and mysterious food to the Brits, it had many fooled. en.wikipedia.org...
Of course this was not for publicity though.
Hoaxes really are a dying breed nowadays.

[edit on 1-3-2007 by Xeros]



posted on Aug, 6 2007 @ 12:14 AM
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Originally posted by Xeros
Thanks for the story, that's pretty funny
.
Sureley, nobody could get away with anything like that today.
...
Hoaxes really are a dying breed nowadays.


Yeah, nothing on this scale could ever be done again, yet still hoaxes do still exist.

I think (although I might get some flack for this) that crop circles have been pretty much proven to be a hoax, yet some people still believe in them.






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