« Stuff You Missed in History Class

5 Historical Hoaxes

2011-08-17 | 🔗

Historical hoaxes are surprisingly common. For example, a N.Y. cigar maker once commissioned a gypsum skeleton to pass off as a 10-foot-tall petrified man called the Cardiff Giant. Join Deblina and Sarah as they explore history's most successful hoaxes.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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seventeen i am so honoured to be the youngest person to have our own tat cast an eye her radio its cause let's be real with sammy j in depth and unfiltered conversations with celebrities activists athletes and influence will cover topics where curious about topics my guests are passionate about an topics many of us are just too afraid to talk about i get past the fluff to what real we go there and its fun pretty crazy and very revealing listen to us we real with sammy j on the radio up apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast welcome to stuff you missed in history class from housetop works dot com welcome to the high costs i'm going to talk about it and i'm fair die and we just talked about the famous radio hopes on the recent high cast the nineteen thirty eight war of the worlds broadcast but
it is in general were around long before that a lot of experts believe that the sub seen hundreds also known to sam is that each enlightenment gave birth to them doesn't really make sense does know it doesn't mean you think that around that time it would be all about reason thinking really hard yeah absolutely but i like the way that alex versa who's the curator of the online museum of hoaxes he actually calls himself a hoax bert which i love a hoax his job description he put it this way in an interview with a history magazine in two thousand nine he said quote in to be able to perceive a hoax one needs see the world in terms of a contrast between reason and ignorance fact infection and way of thinking only clearly came into focus in the eighteenth century so let's take a look at some hoaxes throughout history not necessarily broadcast ones like the war of the worlds but ones that fool the lot of folks just the same
we promise we're not pulling any hoaxes on you all of these are true historical her books yes not this time now this time so our first wine is cunningly fairy than it started with too little english girls named francis griffith and her cousin elsie right they were a couple of cousins and they were basically just trying to put one over on their parents as kid sometimes were ten and sixteen years old at the time respectively and so in nineteen seventeen the two of them used to play at the right home and cutting lee which was in west yorkshire and france often come back home after a day of play soaking wet falling into the brook on the property and parents were really pleased with this they grill the girls what happened why do you keep falling into the broke all the time and the girls explanation was that they went down clear to the water to hang out with the fairies
their natural arrived naturally so the parents also naturally want buying this and also the girls ass to borrow a camera and they produced two photos kind of his proof of their adventures one with since looking toward the camera and a little troop affair fairies kind of prancing around in front of her and the second had elsie and training a nome so arthur right that's pretty much he didn't believe them at all he quit learning the girls his camera so at the end was all that forgotten until the summer of nineteen nineteen and that's when arthur's wife polly right she was pursued
interest in the occult in a supernatural at the time and she attended a lecture hosted by the local theosophical society which they come out from time to time and they ve package of nova thea whenever we talk about spiritualist and so forth but she mentioned the fairy photos when she was there and among the people to show a special interest in these photos was none other than arthur conan doyle our old friend and yes from the who was the real sherlock holmes podcast cfo conan doyle is of course most famous for four that sherlock holmes connection but he was also a famous spiritual s time to in a believer in the supernatural it was very import to him and so he wanted to check out this whole ferry odo thing because he was currently enough working on a piece about various for the strand magazine and i think you mentioned it was quite serious scholarly p they wasn't a piece of conan doyle
typical fiction no it wasn't fiction at all and that's why he wanted to make sure he had proof before he wrote about that so he may have had doubts of his own so he personally visited the girl accordingly along with edward gardener another leading spiritualist and they brought their own cameras along and they asked the girls to take a couple photos for them and just to be sure before he wrote this peace and they had taken the measures at this point to like marking the plates to sell things can hampered were here they wanted to be extra sure that what they were getting was authentic but apparently the test wasn't too hard because the girls past it pretty easily in some people accepted is genuine just as conan doyle and gardener dead others including elsie's father author right remain skype about one commentator put it this way he said quote for a true explanation of these very photographs what is wanted is not a knowledge of a cold phenomena but a knowledge of children so we see that it didn't take much for a lot of people to get to the bottom
there's some sceptics also pointed out how much the sprites looked like cut out straightens from a nineteen fifteen children's books owes its that's pretty the first thing you think too if he saw these pictures today which he can by looking for them online they look like nice little romantic ills since the fairies yan some people point out that what we see today if you do happen to google the photos or whatever you ll notice that these were the enhanced versions of the photo the original photos may have been a little easier to believe but probably not that much but conan doyle did believe this and in fact die believe in this and it wasn't until nineteen eighty three that the girls finally confess that four out of five of the photos we're fakes according to a two thousand for yes and british heritage frances said of the most famous photo quote my heart since when i look at it when i think of how it's gone all around the world i don't see how people could believe they're real fair
but there's one more thing to add to that quote while the girls did admit that most of the photos were faked they her admitted that the fairies where imaginary into her dying day francis swore that the in all photo was real so well just a little twist further ended they took their maybe leaves a little something to wonder about maybe maybe depending on how you look at it so our next hoax involves a historical animal which i know is a favorite top many listeners than this one of course reminded me of the mister eyre themes to you i couldn't help but humming into my head the earth's thinking at my head the whole timers researching that's but around the turn of the twentieth century this truly remarkable horse caught the world's attention and his name was clever hans and he was owned by a school teacher named wilhelm von austin and this horse wasn't
maybe he really made mister eyre look pretty low key with all other stuff he could deal he could deal addition and subtraction modification division he could also selected what color name to him from choosing among a group of different colored clause and he couldn't talk and so like mr add could but he could communicate by stamping has her on the ground so if you said for example what is while divided by three you would get for hoofs stamps now organ in just two things entirely here put it to a new level hans could even read mine you didn't have to ask him ashen out loud you could put the quest to a mentally and he would still get it right and you two had even further to this it didn't have to be on astern who is asking the question anybody could do it and the horse would still get the answers right through it wasn't just a simple matter of a trainer who had secret cues with his animals though
initially causing this great sensation in germany which is where hans lived he said get international coverage when this team of experts there called the hans commission examined him to determine if von austin was perpetuating some kind of but somehow or other people were suspicious of this right they thought it was a whole clear people were very suspicious this with an height of in the normal realm of horse abilities and the experts were pretty prominent men there was a circus proprietor and army captain the director of the berlin philological gardens of that mary surgeon and other guys who are just really familiar with horses and with horse training and would be able to presume oblique tell us something fishy was going on and after they did their work there was a headline printed in the new york times on october second nineteen o for which read expert commission decides that the who
actually reasons that really was global knew the air but even more than that they determined that the horse was not trained instrument and the traditional ways instead von asked and techniques were more like those used to teach children which make sense if he is a school teacher but some people still aren't convinced and one man oscar focused got von asked permission to come in and investigate the horse and after some pretty serious examining and he learned to thing one the horse could only in questions in which the answer was already known to the questioner so you can ask what it twelve divided by three but maybe not them more they just piece of of division and he could also only answer unless he could see questioner and so clever hans was used to being questioned with some be right in front of him if he stood by his side he tried him his head so he would be
king at you faith on and if he had blinders on he couldn't answer the question also this gave food some ideas about the limits upon visibility right ok so what does this mean suggested basically that there were some sort of unconscious movements coming from the questioner and sure enough when he looked more closely he found that nearly every test questioner would ask a question and then bent his head forward which made the horse start tapping and then as soon as the correct number of tabs had occurred the questioner wouldn't shook his head and the horse would stop so far found that while almost everyone made these movements hardly anyone was aware of it so this makes a kind of a hoax the kind of not no way people was suspicious of it that's very hope like seems like nobody was trying to perpetuate fraud as wealthy and most
other hoaxes so first published a book on his findings in eighteen eleven and it got a really glowing review from many times although i liked that the article also noted quote it attracts nothing from the merit of his being clever hans chief math and leave them as wonderful a horse as he was before i e we still of hunger we still have harms we still think he's gray and today you might still see mentions ever hans when you're reading about animal facts gee or article about animal intelligence research you'll see something sometimes called the clever hans the fact in it something that researchers have to be very careful of that they are not either willingly misleading the animal or giving some sort of the conscious q or doing it without even aware of it so this actually lead to some kind of useful gently to something is
like our next and tree which just led to a very peculiar hoax craze a few decades there it started in eighteen sixty nine when a couple of well bigger than card of new york made this startling find well digging a well in the property of william stub knew all yes after hitting stone three feet down and clearing off the topsoil one of them recognised a foot and he said quote article air some old indian has been buried here
there was an ancient burial here at least that's what theme but pretty soon they realise that it wasn't just the skeleton of a normal man it was ten feet long and clearly the remains of some sort of ancient giant so new or got right to work marketing this fine try and make the money off of his farm he set up a tent and charge twenty five cent admission for people to come and take a peek at the so called cardiff giant and he bumped it up after attendance was so good he busted up to fifty cents and people were coming from all over the area to gawk and marvel at this strange stone man yeah here's how the first president of cornell andrew white described his own visit he said lying in its grave with the subdued light from the roof of the tent falling upon it the limbs contorted as if in a death struggle it produced a meal weird a fact an air of
solemnity pervaded the place visitors hardly spoke above a whisper sounds pretty cool doesn't it the white even himself realised that the skeleton was clearly made from stone he actually realise it wasn't even a very good car being and that the two well diggers had would have had no reason to dig in that very spot suggesting some sort of planned fraud yes very suspicious so we have to backtrack a little bit to eighteen sixty six to figure out what happened when a new york cigar maker named george hall or whole got an idea he was an ugly iowa investigating his brother in law for late payment on a large shipment of cigars and while he was there he got into an argument with the methodist revival list over giants and he your spent the night quote wondering about why people would believe these remarkable stories in the bible about giants when suddenly i thought making a stone giant and passing it off
to find me i know k fillets probably not where most pupils train of thought could go after that argument but he really runs with it once the ones the thought strike them but he knows that he can't make the giant close to home because it's gotta be secret it's obviously at a ten stone giant i think it wait about three thousand pounds often dine were caused quite a stir so in eighteen sixty eight he hire some guys to quarry a block of gypsum from fort dodge iowa and so they don't talk and throw it stays secret he tells them that it's for some new lincoln monument that's gonna be going up from there he has his giant block of gyp them ship to chicago oh and carved again in secret by a german stone cutter i think he's he's paid money and sworn to secrecy in fact finally the finnish statue was sent on a train to cardiff we're home with his cousin said
new rule and the men buried it on the farm so they waited about a year i think to dig it out practice though it could get some authentic dirt the rounded and and look convincing enough but that it can plan i fear fear gonna go through all the trouble you might as well put in that for a year to make it work but the giant was on earth of sweden last that long nor even told some people that it with a hoax which seems like a really bad idea if you're trying to make fifty cents a head on your farm whole realize he would have to somebody else to buying this giant get a large amount of money up front before the story broke the fraud though he thought the giant to a business man named david for twenty three thousand dollars and handsome get on the road is kind of a syndicate shall it caught the attack from their of pity barnum again our old friend you just pop up all the time he offered to
the giant for fifty thousand dollars and handsome refuse though barnum who isn't gonna veto by not possessing the quote authentic giant decide to build his own replica and had an agent go to hand them show make them covert wax models and of course all the newspapers were running stories about the cardiff giant that we had all of the measurements ready to go and just started tour his own plastered tired it did really well to hand them though is pretty dismissive of this plastic copy of names and all of those who paid to go see even said there's a sucker born every minute which is obviously painfully ironic to do here that my favorite part of this is that it started a kind of a petrified man trend way did well i mean it's easy to see how it works too if if you could make so much money off of having a petrified man in your backyard but for a few days
there there were lots of petrified men turning out giants thorgest normal thighs mark twain even wrote a little newspaper article a spoof of finding provide man and it got picked up by real outlet for a few years there there was russian petrified man and then they lost their sherry now here you know what happens when you find a hoax that works you tend to see it kind of running around but i have to say this next one on our list as one fair that i am really glad did not catch on it is about a woman named mary talked in its own medical hoax that's been called the top fraud of the enlightenment had started when an english woman named mary todd two as a mother of three already had a mist around september of seventeen twenty six about a mile after that she and her husband joshua taft sent for the doktor who in this case was a male midwife named john howard because she was having these
on labour pans and after called in john howard she gave birth to a dead skinned base rabbit and then proceeded to continue giving birth to dead rabbits at the rate of about one per day and howard claim that he could even feel and see the maybe bunnies joy being in the womb before they died i know he could see he claimed that you could see kind of the bed clothes move over her stomach and that it would shake the bed sometimes over the dead body would come out yet not pleasant at all so obviously people are sceptical of the story and so people wouldn't think that he was lying howard put out an open invitation for other doctors to come check out the situation may be even deliver a rabbit for themselves and see that britain s pretty invasive was that several people took him up on that including nathaniel thing andreas surgeon from switzerland and all
personal surgeon of king george the first we have to mention though saint andre had a in sting resume before he got into the doctoring business which may be make that though he wasn't the most qualified person to be the public face of this was originally a damn thing in a fencing instructor strange backstory for that is definitely on but what's perhaps most surprising about this whole story in general is that how many doctors were convinced that the births where we i mean it wasn't just think andrei right it with some other people too who really thought that this was happening as a kind of proof of this phenomenon saint andrew didn't experiment in which he put the organs of the bunnies in water and its unclear i guess as to why that sleep provided any proof that it was supposed to have been cut has eighteenth century doktor lesser some doctors were sceptical thou including a sir richard manningham and too
figure out what was going on once and for all mary was brought to london and put under a twenty four hour watch which pretty soon put a stop to these strange births and they discovered a porter trying to smuggle a rabbit into marry at her hotel her sister who was playing nurse to her at the time she also confess to this but that they were bringing the rabbit and to her for eating purpose is only not for birthing purposes which sounds pretty fun yeah we didn't look good to say the least but mere ourselves if you were giving birth to rabbits would you really still be eating them that is very good for you i mean if you're gonna think they thought a little but that's a good points there i would think that you wouldn't want to eat meat in general but apparently she didn't have a problem with that while she was staying in london but she did still claim even after that instant that she was telling the truth finally though they had to resort to threatening her they said basically
do a painful procedure operate on her but the next time she was about to go into labor instead of just letting the bunnies be born they would they were doing operation and examine her uterus and so at that point she finally confessed the whole thing was a scheme to get a pension and live easy for them sir life specifically she said quote her goal was to get so good alive a survey life specifically she said quote her goal was to go so good a living there should never want as long as i lived which is another strange thing to think about that you would there was strange to plan that as away i think to get year your fortune lock in your future but she didn't work alone she said an accomplice helped her get the animal parts in return for part of the potential profits of someone may have been involved here maybe multiple someone else's her husband was probably part of it at least a little bed he
was implicated in getting he it was found that he had purchased furnish the abso mary was charged as a quota vile cheat an impostor and thrown in jail but she was later released and the doktor didn't come out of it very well many of their reputations were ruined and a popular purchase in the early eighteen hundreds in england was a book of writing about tat which was bound in of course rabbit skin and one more knew about these bunnies even though mary toft apparently did not lose her appetite for round meanwhile perpetuating this fraud alone people in england dead and rabbit still took a little nose dive in popularity for for a short time after this fraud so clear that the people of england knew that the story of mary toft was definitely a hoax that the last story on our list is one that is still sort of in question people of color
this a hoax for years and its cited as a common example of a hoax but there are still some people who think that it might be true so here's the basics worry it all started in newark ohio in eighteen sixty when alone county surveyor an amateur archaeologists named david why rick was excavating some of these earthen mounds and the american amid west and you may recall us talking about this in these quite firstly in the occupied cast but most people believe that these mounds or the work of the colombian native civilizations however common belief during this time period that we're talking about right now was that the mountains were built by the ten lost tribes of israel to link we even mention that in the cook here we may have they were you too have vanished after being captured by the assyrians but why eric was a support this theory and that's kind of what made what happens next very suspicious i thought
rick with digging near newer ex fifty acre octagon mound in eighteen sixty when he discovered the keystone which was the first of the holy stones in the shallow hall and the keystone is basically a polished wed shaped piece of sandstone and it has hebrew inscriptions on all four sides and they read the law of jehovah the word of the lord king of the earth and the holy of holies this was really really big news because some people thought that it finally confirmed the ten loss tribes very other people thought well maybe it's nice an ancient hebrew tax maybe it's masonic keys because of that shape and everything they didn't take long though for some people to just call it out as an outright fake
yes charles whittlesey for example a noteworthy ohio archaeologist he thought that it was neither may sonic nor jewish but a relatively modern artifact the hebrew for example was thought to be to modern to be authorized tag to be from that previous period when the last tries would have been around so that november why rick gets a little bit more evidence maybe he discovers another stone the deck along stone and the jackson town stone mound which is a few miles south east of newark and found encased in accustomed maidstone box sounds pretty core yan shaped like a tombstone that's intricately carved all over with hebrew letters that convey and abbreviated form of the ten commandments so completely different the keystone on the french side the inscription lines an arch that frames the image of a man named moses and the style of hebrew with some unique archaic style they couldn't quite place that it wasn't a model
style that they found on the keystone that it wasn't also ancient hebrew right it wasn't what they knew to be an ancient hebrew style that was recognisable so you people thought this was a fraud right away to had too many scriptural mistakes and a lack of patina that made people very suspicious should laughter tina that made people very suspicious to the left it in the ground for a longer term cardiff giant but in his name from anyone book and task still every possible archaeological tat their inscriptions are the only ones of their kind known and are not correct for the time period others though we're wondering if ancient hebrews were present in the americas why can't we find evidence of their settlement financed like why can't we find there there is still than their inscriptions but why can't we find anything from our settlement is a good question one problem with the stout about the stones though is trying to figure out ok if they're not real whom them of course some people
could be why rick i read that before why eric staff he actually wondered himself if somebody had full time so it seems likely that he would bring that up if he didn't wanna put suspicion on himself so archeo the sprat leper believed that it was actually a man named reverend john double majority who translated the text on the keystone for wiring overnight so it just seemed too fast for him to be evaluated familiar with that exactly in the theory is that my party hoped the stones would prove that adam and eve were much father to all races and good argue against slavery yeah so in eighteen sixty four to additional hebrew inscribed stones which are now in currently lost were found during the excavation of amount on the george a wilson farm which is east of network
people again got really excited but soon a local dentists named john h nickel clean that he himself carved the stones introduce them into the excavation with the intention of discrediting the two earlier finds from wiring of worth and these inscriptions actually spelled out his name so the plan did pretty much work through these new stones which are so obviously frauds kind of made the earlier fine an economy the card of affect all the other petrified men third of make the original one not seem so great hence why for years those then believe to be a hoax but then attention came back to the story around the nineteen eighties or so and there are some now who believed that the stones are authentic they say there just too detailed and thought out to be hoax
and the fact that there are different from each other so unique and distinct here i think it was maybe the dialogue you are describing to me earlier is that it was just perfectly laid out in there were no there are no place where the words were crammed and everything was planned didn't look like you are just trying to help quickly put this too further to pull off some kind of hopes that looked like something that had been meticulously done but today you can decide for yourself the visitors can view the holy stones at the johnston hummer costs museum in a higher so i think it fitting that we leave with one that still kind of hanging in the balance or in question because we love to leave you guys with a question to answer even though astaire said when we started this these are all true
so we did this is not a hoax in itself with a loud i agree that it would have been pretty clever maybe we'll do that some other time but for now we're going to move on to mr male our first piece of me i always am catherine and she wrote how los angeles lena am a big fan of your pockets and would love to hear you talk about body prince charlie or flora mcdonald the woman you help him escape she even have the highland dance named after her flora mcdonald's fancy i'm including some rulers clothed rulers free to pass through work maybe you'll find a future pike has topic on one of them i just wanted to say thank you to catherine for sending us about five or six rulers gather awesome and i think they do have some podcast i found one is it more than one or two of them all but i just took one ear low enough just to give you guys example that was like patriot and then it would be a big less starting
ben franklin a picture of him and then a big lists of worldwide patriot think we had women and are scientists all sorts of clothing thank you catherine for those who wanted to read an email from lorry led fight and i just i mean i can't affected because of her nickname by lorry wrote just wanted to drop a quick note to say hi and to thank you and then over the road truck driver and finally by my first ipod about six months ago a browsing the podcast in search of something to listen to i came across step you missed in history class being a fan of history and decided to check it out have finally caught up with passion and wanted to let you know i think you're doing a great job and they think you though i thought i'd read lorry led foot female sort of in tribute to all of the long drivers we have listeners we get along
nice from folks are driving trot there is i think a circle i e when i was younger i was kind of obsessed with the idea of being a truck driver i think it also in adventurous to be driving across trees i was like the kid trying to make them hunger there whore oh yeah further slow so we're glad to hear that we have so many listeners to her during the long haul and learning about history while their added though if you have any common any postcard you wanna thunder go ahead you can also send us more focus suggestions this is pretty fun i definitely enjoy this absurd we're at history pie cast at how stuff works that calm i've noticed lately alot of people have been confused about how to contact us we ve gotten things on twitter that is the only email though if you want to send us an email that's the place to go history pie cast at helstone that com but you should also like us on facebook or following
and it is in history yet and if you want to learn a little bit more about how maybe you could pull off your own hoax not that we encourage that at all that we do have an interesting article on our website called how lying works not talk about how you can lie how you can learn how to lie and also how you can learn to scott ally which may be the more valuable skillery hedge that part yes we will pitch that part of it because we do not condone lying but you can find out on our website by searching on our homepage w w w dot how stuff works dotcom restore to check out our new video part gas stuff from the future joint house
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-05.