simonshack wrote:2: - WHY are so many people still blind to this ongoing scheme?
... perhaps this perplexing behavior can be attributed to the blinding power of myth
mnew9 wrote:What must also aid the perpetrators of these fake terrorist attacks has to be the predictable number of people from the public who always come forward claiming to be 'victims' of such attacks.
The above described phenomenon was actually documented during what has been termed The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, under the expression SPONTANEOUS MENDACITY
If may advance a cursory and very brief digression off the present Paris topic and proceed back to New York, 1835…
That year a New England journal published the extraordinary news according to which life had been discovered on the surface of the Moon (including the discovery of a type of “flying man-bat”) thanks to a powerful new telescope. The article was of course a prank (and the beginning of tabloid journalism), but the news reports were so vivid and realistic they were taken up by other journals and newspapers, as people of all walks of life became wild with excitement at the accounts of the Lunar finds. Soon the reports of the discovery spread across the country, then across the seas, to South America, Europe (even discussed within the walls of the prestigious French Academy!)… until, of course, the “discovery” was proven to be a fake. Decades later, people would still be talking about “the great Moon hoax of 1835.”
One of the contemporary witnesses to the event, William Griggs, who later published a book about the incident, described a phenomenon he called spontaneous mendacity
: according to him, not only did the public readily believe the hoax, but they were encouraged in their belief by people who came forward of their own free will to corroborate the story's details
. For instance, a Quaker
gentleman apparently told the crowds gathered outside the offices of the newspaper the Sun
[initiator of the prank] that while he had been in London, he had personally witnessed the [fictional] telescope being loaded onto a ship bound for South Africa [location of the alleged discovery]. Still others, according to Griggs, claimed to have in their possession copies of the supplement to the Edinburgh Journal of Science
[which had supposedly been the source of the information to the Sun
but whose publication at the time had been discontinued several years prior to the event] and assured the doubtful the Sun
had accurately reproduced the text of the lunar discoveries.
Why did random, seemingly rational, honest individuals suddenly begin to lie about a discovery which was later proven to be a total fabrication ? Was this perplexing behavior not simply a result of... the fierce human desire to believe
? Early XIXth century American society was indeed traversed by a powerful positivist movement, in which astronomy, and the belief in the existence of life outside of Earth, animated passionate debates and inspired a particularly vivid faith about the meaning of life in the universe.
Today this myth may still animate our faith and belief in our present human space conquest narrative, but is it the only myth which rules and animates our behavior ? What of that of the fear generated by the belief in the great clash of civilizations
, which affected our Western psyche for over a millennia ?
Next time the concierge in Michigan mentions “her friend who was wounded by the Muslim terrorists in the Bataclan attacks in Paris,” (or any other Moon hoaxy event), remember the great Moon hoax of 1835 and the blinding power of myth
For those who are interested, you can consult online a detailed article about the hoax at http://hoaxes.org/archive/permalink/the_great_moon_hoax
or read the very entertaining and informative book by author Matthew Goodman, The Sun and the Moon: the remarkable true account of hoaxers, showmen, dueling journalists, and lunar man-bats in nineteenth New-York