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Top 10 Hoaxes of All Time

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Don’t believe everything that you see... Just because you’re seeing it on the news, reading it in the newspaper or hearing it on the radio does not make it true. Sometimes, it’s a simple mistake or misunderstanding. Other times, there’s something more malicious at play, and someone is actively trying to fool the public – either to teach them a lesson or to gain fame for themselves. In this video, counts down our picks for the top 10 hoaxes. Special thanks to our YT viewer Lester Arriero and users jwiking62, jackhammer and Andy Roehl for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Hoaxes

Don’t believe everything that you see… Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 hoaxes.

#10: Megalodon is Alive and Well

When something airs on the Discovery Channel, you believe it. That is, until “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” ran during Shark Week 2013: created as a found-footage documentary, this film shows a present-day boat being attacked by the prehistoric creature. Many viewers believed the content was true, despite disclaimers indicating otherwise, and were mad when they found they’d been duped. However, it’s worth mentioning: the megalodon did once exist.

#9: Raëlians Clone the First Human

Adherents to this UFO religion think cloning is the key to eternal life, that people can be genetically duplicated, and their personalities can then be transferred to that clone. They sparked moral outrage when a group-member claimed to give birth to the world’s first cloned human in 2002. However, the cult’s scientific branch, Clonaid, refused to produce proof of their achievement, revealing it as a publicity stunt.

#8: Cottingley Fairies

To prove to their parents that the fairies they’d claimed to’ve seen were real, two cousins photographed them in 1917. Eventually, author and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got his hands on the prints, after which they were examined by experts who mostly agreed they had not been altered. After much discussion, the girls finally revealed them as fakes in 1983 – however they maintained that they had seen fairies.

#7: Manti Te’o & the Fake GF

This college footballer became a brave hero after revealing that both his grandmother and his girlfriend died the same day. However, when the media dug deeper, they found his girlfriend – whom he’d only met online – was a fabrication and had never existed. At first, it was unclear whether Te’o was involved in the hoax; but it was eventually revealed that a male acquaintance perpetrated the con to escape real-life.

#6: Balloon Boy

After an experiment gone awry, the Heene family claimed their son Falcon had floated away in a balloon. When the balloon-in-question landed with Falcon nowhere to be found, people panicked that he’d fallen out, prompting search-and-rescue teams to scour the area around his Colorado home. Turns out the entire thing was a publicity stunt meant to land the family a reality show. Both parents served brief jail sentences.

#5: Piltdown Man

In 1912, Charles Dawson presented parts of a skull discovered in an English gravel-pit as the as-yet undiscovered “missing link” between humans and apes on the evolutionary scale, significantly impacting public perception of the theory. However, by 1953, researchers found the bones to be part-human, part-orangutan, exposing it as a hoax. Fun fact: Among those suspected of perpetrating this elaborate ruse is “Sherlock Holmes” author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

#4: Cardiff Giant

Ten-feet-tall and allegedly petrified, this artifact was created by New Yorker George Hull, ostensibly to mock Bible-thumpers who believed giants once roamed the Earth. Hull commissioned a sculptor to create the ancient-looking stone man, then hid it on his cousin’s farm, where it was discovered in 1869. Before Hull revealed his elaborate prank, folks paid to see this wonder, prompting one man to say, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

#3: Bower & Chorley’s Crop Circles

While we can’t confirm that every crop-circle on the planet is a hoax, two men claimed to be behind many of these intricate designs cut into farmers’ fields. In 1991, Doug Bower and Dave Chorley confessed that, with the help of some simple tools, they created hundreds of crop circles in the British countryside alone – basically as a prank. It’s likely they inspired copycats who kept the crop-circle trend alive.

#2: Alien Autopsy

Released in the ‘90s, this film purported to feature a real-life dissection of one of the Roswell aliens. Ray Santilli claimed he got the 17-minute-long, poor-quality video from a nameless military cameraman. And it was compelling enough to warrant its sale to TV networks, which aired it worldwide. In 2006, Santilli admitted the film was fake; but said it was a “reconstruction” of a real video that had since become unviewable.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Milli Vanilli Can Sing
- Redheffer’s Perpetual Motion Machine
- The Surgeon’s Photo of the Loch Ness Monster
- The Amityville Horror

#1: The War of the Worlds

As a Halloween gift, Orson Welles put on a radio production of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” in 1938, framing it as news reports about an ongoing alien invasion of Earth. Because people were already stressed because of the looming World War, listeners panicked upon hearing the broadcast, despite repeated assurances that it was fiction. Though the ensuing mass hysteria was likely exaggerated, people were still pissed.

Do you agree with our list? Which hoax do you think is the most incredible? For more fascinating top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to
You should do the ones from 2014
Frank Lansburg

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