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The Greatest Scientific Hoaxes? 496

Ponca City, We love you writes "The New Scientist has an amusing story about the seven greatest scientific hoaxes of all time. Of course, there have been serious cases of scientific fraud, such as the stem cell researchers recently found guilty of falsifying data, and the South Korean cloning fraud, but the hoaxes selected point more to human gullibility than malevolence and include the Piltdown Man (constructed from a medieval human cranium); a ten-foot "petrified man" dug up on a small farm in Cardiff; fossils 'found' in Wurzburg, Germany depicting comets, moons and suns, Alan Sokal's paper loaded with nonsensical jargon that was accepted by the journal Social Text; the claim of the Upas tree on the island of Java so poisonous that it killed everything within a 15-mile radius; and Johann Heinrich Cohausen's claim of an elixir produced by collecting the breath of young women in bottles that produced immortality. Our favorite: BBC's broadcast in 1957 about the spaghetti tree in Switzerland that showed a family harvesting pasta that hung from the branches of the tree. After watching the program, hundreds of people phoned in asking how they could grow their own tree but, alas, the program turned out to be an April Fools' Day joke." What massive scientific hoaxes/jokes have other people witnessed?

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