15 Biggest Hoaxes That Fooled The World

15. The Cardiff Giant

Wikipedia

On the 16th of October, 1869, an enormous, petrified man was uncovered by a man called William Newell whilst digging a well in Cardiff, New York.

Newell claimed that it must the petrified remains of a giant and immediately set up a tent over the site and charged the public 25 cents to view it. People flocked to see the curiosity and even kept on coming when Newell doubled the entry fee.

Archaeologists pronounced the find as a fake, citing the fact, amongst others, that there was no good reason to dig a well in that spot (plus, you know, it was a giant). However, a number of religious scholars backed Newell and his giant, citing a passage in Genesis 6:4 that says that giants once roamed the earth.

Unfortunately for them, the giant was in fact a hoax, and it was inspired by that very passage. Newell, himself an atheist, had had an argument over a year previously at a Methodist revival meeting about it and decided to play the long con and create his own. He had his giant carved from gypsum, beaten and stained to age it then buried under his cousin's farm, to which he would return a year later to dig it up.

The hoax was twofold in the end as, after having his offer to purchase the giant refused, the famous entertainer, P T Barnum, had a plaster copy made for his own display. He claimed that his was in fact the real giant and the one that Newell and his team were exhibiting was a fake. It is this incident that lead David Hannum, one of Newell's men, to be quoted as saying "there's a sucker born every minute" - a quote that would later be attributed to Barnum himself.

 
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