The Truth Behind The Five Best Hoaxes In History
People have been creating hoaxes since before time began. Ancient priests and royalty controlled their followers by making stories that brought them under their control. Some of the hoaxes below were created by normal people to pull the wool over someone's eyes or to gain a profit. No matter what the reason, some of them have had major cultural impacts. See the truth below...
Remember Indiana Jones and The Last Crappy Crusade? Wait, that wasn't the name of that film. It was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. Those Crystal Skulls from that movie are actually out there. According to legend, sometime before Columbus (they call that pre-Columbian) a bunch of Mayans decided to create skulls for their rituals out of pure pieces of crystal. For hundreds of years, they shaped these artifacts into skull-like shapes using just sand. The skulls have a mystical property to them and can heal those who touch them and can destroy those who want to hurt the Mayan people. There are, supposedly thirteen of these skulls in existence and the Mayans have told us that if we can put all the skulls together before December of 2012, the world will be saved from total destruction. Right now, we know of only six of them. Of course, this is a hoax. The whole thing. They aren't even Mayan. The first crystal skull was "found" by Anna Mitchell-Hedges in 1924. She was the daughter of famous British explorer and adventurer F.A. Mitchell-Hedges. The skull was supposedly 3600 years old, which would mean that the Mayans started working on these skulls the Tuesday after they became a civilization. As it turns out, the skulls were made about 20 years after Anna "found" them. Total hoax.
If you live on the planet earth, you've probably read Dan Brown's book, The DaVinci Code. You've at least seen the Tom Hanks movie. In it, Brown explains that Leonardo da Vinci, Victor Hugo, and Isaac Newton were all part of this secret religious group, known as the Priory of Sion, that kept a secret of Jesus having a wife and children. Brown took the information about the Priory of Sion from a man who "discovered" it, named Pierre Plantard. Unfortunately, Plantard was a prankster (and possibly a con-man). In 1995, Pierre Plantard admitted to making the whole secret society up in the 1960s to sell to ABC for a television series. He had documents forged to look old and stories created. He then planted them in the old book section of the library so he could "find them". Unfortunately, Dan Brown took them as being real alongside another group of writers and the story has perpetuated.
Most people have probably never heard of this hoax. In fact, at the time it took place, during World War 2, it was a top secret operation. The British thought of a way of deceiving the Italians and Germans of the Allied plans. The entire concept came about from an idea by Ian Fleming (the writer of James Bond). Basically, a dead body, dressed as a British army officer was dropped into the Mediterranean Sea with a briefcase of "secret documents" handcuffed to his wrist. Hopefully, the enemy would discover the body and read the top secret materials. The hoax worked perfectly. A 34-year old Welshman by the name of Glyndwr Michael "volunteered" to be the dead officer. Michael had recently died from ingesting rat poison and was a suitable subject as the dead officer. A fake identity was created for him, making him Major Bill Martin. The ruse of Major Martin was quite extensive. He had pictures of his fiancee on his person, a couple of love letters, ticket stubs and receipts in his billfold. The documents were all properly created to talk about an Allied mission to invade Greece. While the Nazis moved their troops to Greece, the Allies attacked Sicily, which eventually led to the fall of Italy. The hoax worked and helped in the Allied victory in World War 2.
Orson Welles put on a giant hoax on October 30, 1938 when he presented a panic attack to the nation. All of America listened to their radios as martians attacked New Jersey with poison gas and giant war machines. The story was based off of H.G. Wells' book, The War of the Worlds (1898). Because of this radio broadcast, people panicked, committed suicide, and ran out of their homes without clothes to find safety from the space invaders. Of course, this was a hoax. No aliens invaded earth. If you would have tuned into the beginning of the radio show, you would have heard that this was a dramatization. It was part of a weekly program called, Mercury Theater on the Air. We like to reference this story because it shows just how foolish people in the late 1930s were. This is "the Greatest Generation"? They were idiots! Right? Well, the hoax is really on us. Almost nobody believed that martians were invading the planet. They knew it was a radio show. The newspapers, on the other hand, created the propaganda of mass hysteria. They didn't want a new communication media taking over their turf. So they exploited this show to tell people how "evil" the radio can be. We did the same thing with mySpace and child predators...fear causes people to be swayed. Right GOP?
While we are on space aliens, the mysterious Men In Black are about as real as the movies with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. These people don't exist, but they do make for a really good story about secret government agents swooping in to force people to forget what they saw and heard. There are a few times that I'd really like to have that little light-pen to make my wife forget that I just said something stupid, but that's another topic all together. The Men in Black have been appearing since 1956 when self-proclaimed UFOlogist and writer, Gray Barker, invented them. Barker was kind of a prankster. He wrote about people who saw UFOs and the government agents that tried to dissuade them. If no government agents showed up, he sometimes wrote them a letter using government letterhead just to make sure they had something to tell. Note: This isn't to say that people who saw experimental aircraft weren't visited by an FBI goon, but the whole Men in Black theory is made up by Barker. For further proof, look up the Mothman of West Virginia. Barker made that up, too!