From mysterious and unexplained photographs of monsters to the greatest wartime deception mission ever carried out, we count the 8 greatest hoaxes of all time.
8. The Loch Ness Monster “Surgeon’s Photograph”
The “Surgeon’s Photograph” is arguably the most well known picture taken of the Loch Ness Monster. The photograph was allegedly taken by London gynaecologist, Robert Kenneth Wilson on a trip to Loch Ness. The photo became a worldwide sensation when it was first published in the Daily Mail on 21st April 1934 and despite several attempts over the years to discredit the photograph, it was still considered by many to be the best evidence supporting the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
In 1994 a man named Christian Spurling confessed to his involvement in the hoax shortly before his death at the age of 90. Spurling claimed that an acquaintance, Marmaduke Wetherall hatched a plot to get back at his employers at the Daily Mail who ridiculed him after he reported to find ‘Nessie’ tracks which turned out to be the imprint of a hippopotamus-foot umbrella stand. Spurling said he was asked by Wetherall to create a fake monster using a toy submarine and wood. The model was photographed in the shallows of the Loch and the plates were handed over to Wilson who took the photographs to the press.
7. The Cottingley Fairies
In 1917 several photos surfaced that captured the imagination of the English population. Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, two young girls from Cottingley, England, claimed to have taken a series of five photographs that proved the existence of fairies. The pictures even caught the attention of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who used the photos in an article he wrote about fairies for The Strand Magazine.
Over time, interest in the photographs gradually waned until the early 1980’s when both Frances and Elsie admitted to faking the photos by cutting pictures of fairies from a popular children’s book. Curiously, Frances who passed away in 1986, maintained that the final photograph taken was actually a genuine image of real fairies.
6. Life On The Moon
In 1835 the New York City newspaper The Sun, printed a series of 6 articles detailing life on the moon. The articles claimed that the astronomer John Herschel had used a particularly powerful telescope to witness winged humans living in temples of sapphire, unicorns and even beavers that walked around on their hind legs. The crazy story was reprinted by newspapers all over the world and it took 5 years for the author Richard Adams Locke to finally admit that the whole thing was a load of nonsense.
5. Alien Autopsy
In the 1990’s entrepreneur Ray Santilli released footage of what he claimed was the autopsy of an alien recovered from Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The footage gained popularity and on August 28th, 1995, Fox television released the footage under the title Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction. The program featured the opinions of several experts including make-up artist Stan Winston and forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht. Despite several of the experts declaring the footage to be fake some claimed that their testimonies were distorted in the final edit.
The program was so popular that it was re-broadcast 2 more times. In 2006 Santilli admitted the film was fake but stated that it was a reconstruction of footage he claimed to have seen in 1992. He went on to say that the original film had deteriorated and become unusable but that a few frames or the original were embedded in the newer, staged version.
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