Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

Long before Percival Lowell claimed to have discovered evidence of civilization on Mars, or before Orson Wells frightened the country with a mock Martian invasion, legitimate scientists in the 1830s were concocting extravigant claims of the possibility of a civilization on the moon.  In response to what he felt were the ridiculous claims, Brother Richard A. Locke (Benevolent Lodge 28, New York) fabricated a story about the discovery of lunar inhabitants so plausable many scientists of the day endorsed it.  Using the name "Sir John Herschel," Locke published the "discovery" in a series of articles in the New York Sun (where he was a reporter) in 1835, causing a national sensation.  He let the story linger for six weeks before revealing it was a satiric way of ridiculing the outlandish "scientific" claims of his day, amidst charges he had only written the series of articles to increase circulation.

No comments: