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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 21.4 > NEWSPAPER HOAXES

NEWSPAPER HOAXES

It’s a lot of trouble to make money selling tickets to see fake fossil monsters. Albert Koch had to find real fossils, spend money creating and promoting his bogus exhibits, and run the risk that skeptical fossil experts would ruin it all before he could make back his investment.

But selling fake news stories—why, that’s the easiest thing in the world. Cheap, too! Just invent a juicy yarn people want to read. The temptation to make stuff up causes all mammer of media mischief. Outrageous newspaper hoaxes were especially common during the 1800s, when communication by sailing ship made it very difficult to check whether news stories were true. In 1835, for example, the New York Sun newspaper announced that bat-people, blue unicorns, and other bizarre lifeforms had been discovered on the Moon. (See JUNIOR SKEPTIC #56 for that tale.) In 1874, the New York World published an extremely gruesome hoax about a man-eating tree in Madagascar. (See JUNIOR SKEPTIC #59.)

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DECEPTION IN CANCER TREATMENT SPECIAL ISSUE: The Cancer-care Industry’s Marketing is Among the Most Deceptive on the Consumer Landscape. SPECIAL SECTION: Classic Skepticism: The Amityville Hoax at 40; Alien Sulls: Do the Mysterious Rhodope Skull and Adygea Skulls Belong to Aliens?; The Real Meaning Behind the Nazca Geoglyphs; Clown Panics: Sightings of Mysterious Clowns Rattle Nerves ARTICLES: The Case for a Galactic Defense System; Is “Spirituality” so Broadly Defined that Testing for it is Meaningless?; Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?; Luck and Regression to the Mean: One of the Most Fundamental Sources of Error in Human Judgment; Political Obfuscation: Thinking Critically about Public Discourse. COLUMNS: The SkepDoc: Anti-Aging Claims: The Fountain of Youth is Still Only a Legend, by Harriet Hall, M.D.; The Gadfly: Can Working Memory Be Trained to Work Better? by Carol Tavris REVIEWS: “Three books about the Salem Witch Trials and their legacy: The Witches: Salem, by Stacy Schiff; In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, by Mary Beth Norton; America Bewitched: America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem, by Owen Davies JUNIOR SKEPTIC: Mammoth Mysteries! Part Two, by Daniel Loxton
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