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Surprising Science

5 Scientific Hoaxes

Happy April Fool’s Day! We here at Big Think celebrated by releasing this exclusive footage of Dr. Michio Kaku contemplating the universe. Google, which always seems to enjoy being festive, announced “Sheflies” for Gmail, which are shareable selfies for your background theme. Scary thought. Good thing it’s just a prank. 

April Fool’s has been entertaining people since the Middle Ages. In fact, even the rigorous world of science has fallen pray to some well-done hoaxes. And sometimes the pranksters are scientists themselves. The Washington Post shares a collection of scientific hoaxes in the April issue of Discover magazine. 

“Aristotle’s Masterpiece”: This 17th-century book of fake medical texts and sex advice fooled the world for over 200 years. Yes, that’s how long it took people to catch on. 

The “archeo­raptor”: Fifteen years ago, this supposed Chinese fossil fooled the National Geographic. The find was nothing more than an odd mishmash of fossils. 

The Fake Research Paper: An error-filled fake research paper, thrown together by staffers at Science magazine, was submitted to 304 journals and accepted by 157. 

The Hotheaded Naked Ice Borer: As an April Fool’s joke in 1995, Discover magazine ran a story about “a molelike animal that melted tunnels through ice with its head.” The magazine still receives hate mail for that one. 

The Abominable Snowman: Bryan Skykes, a British geneticist, ended this legend by identifying supposed Yeti hair as belonging to an ancient Scandinavian bear. 

Image credit: Shutterstock 


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