Hoax Archive: Time Periods
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Science and Technology Hoaxes (1869-1913)
Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1887 (1887 (exposed in 1919))When the six-volume Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography was published between 1887 and 1889, it was one of the first and most definitive works of its kind in America. It contained biographical information about thousands of people (some famous, some obscure) in American history. It was hailed as a valuable source of information for both scholars and students alike.
But thirty years after the Cyclopedia's publication, questions began to be raised about its reliability. The botanist Dr. John Hendley Barnhart published a brief article in the Journal of the New York Botanical Garden suggesting some of the Cyclopedia's biographical sketches might be fictitious. He had specific doubts about fourteen botanists. He had never heard of these people, nor could he find references to them anywhere else. More→
The Diaphote Hoax, 1880 (February 1880)On February 10, 1880 an article ran in the Daily Times (of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) describing a remarkable invention recently demonstrated by a local inventor, Dr. H.E. Licks. The invention allowed images to be transmitted by telegraph. In other words, it resembled what people today would recognize as a television. However, Licks called his invention a "diaphote," from the Greek dia meaning "through" and photos meaning "light". More→
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