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  • Martin Gagnon

Unicorns on the Moon

I have mentioned in a couple of posts and spend time during my seminars repeating that fake news is not something new. It really goes way back. An amusing example was a series of stories in the New York Sun that appeared starting August 25th, 1835. Known as “The Great Moon Hoax,” the stories were supposedly reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science. Dr. Andrew Grant, who wrote the stories, claimed that the famous astronomer John Herschel had found evidence of life forms on the moon. Life forms included unicorns, winged humanoids that looked like bats, and two legged beavers.

From the day the first moon hoax article was released, sales of the New York Sun skyrocketed. While readers found it exciting, the only problem was none of it was true. The Edinburgh Journal of Science had stopped publication years earlier and Grant was a fictional character. The articles were intended as satire to poke fun at the speculations of popular science fiction writer Reverend Thomas Dick. On September 16, 1835, the Sun admitted the articles had been a hoax.