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1. How do make a hoax more convincing? Well photographic 'evidence' helps. In 1920 two schoolgirls made public snaps taken with their dad's camera which, they claimed, showed fairies at the bottom of their garden. It wasn't until the early 1980s that the sisters admitted the Cottingley Fairies' were actually cardboard cutouts.

2. Who'd believe that fairies exist? Probably the same people who think dinosaurs still exist in Scotland. A photo of The Loch Ness Monster, supposedly taken by London doctor Robert Kenneth Wilson in 1934, appeared to show a long neck rising from the loch's waters. It later emerged the image was a child's toy submarine with a model of a serpent's head attached, created by 'Nessie hunter' Marmaduke Wetherell who then enlisted Wilson as a credible frontman.

3. So never trust a photograph? Or a film. In the 90s London-based entrepreneur Ray Santilli unveiled 'footage of an alien autopsy' supposedly performed in Roswell, New Mexico in the 1940s. He later admitted the aliens were models stuffed with sheep brains and chicken entrails. The 2006 film Alien Autopsy based on the hoax and starring Ant and Dec was also a load of old tripe.

4. Is the written word more trustworthy? Not really. In 1983 German magazine Stern claimed to have obtained 62 handwritten volumes of Hitler's diaries covering the years 1932-1945. It looked like the scoop of the century until it was pointed out the volumes, bought for around PS3m, were forged tea-stained exercise books riddled with historical inaccuracies.

alien film, left 5. But you can't fool live cameras. Wrong.

live In 2009 horrifying 'flying saucer' images of a homemade '' soaring at 7,000ft were beamed around the globe by news channels after its creator Richard Heene told emergency services his son Falcon had stowed away on board. Viewers watched for an hour until it crash landed and was found to be empty. Falcon was found hiding in the Heenes' garage. In an interview, six-year-old let slip that he''d been put up to the stunt by his parents to try and get a reality TV show.

6. I can''t see people watching that.

will watch.

Donorshow You''d be surprised what people Dutch TV''s De Grote Show) saw a woman deciding (The Big Donor which of three renal patients her death.

would get her kidneys after stakes version of Blind Date.

Think of it as a high was later revealed as a publicity organs. stunt to encourage donation of It 7. So sometimes there''s a point? Sometimes, but it's usually just someone making mischief.

Since the 1970s odd patterns appeared in farmer''s fields with increasing regularity. They''ve bes en held up as possible messages from alien visitors, who are presumably big fans of Spirograph. But in the early 90s Doug Bower and Dave Chorley admitted to making hundreds of complex crop circles with planks and pieces of rope over the previous two decades. Others are belies ved to be the work of copycats.

8. So a hoax can get out of hand? Just ask Paul McCartney. For nearly 50 years he''s been having to deny he's dead after fans interpreted 'hidden messages' in Beatles songs and album artwork as clues to a cover up that saw a lookalike replace Macca after a fatal car crash in 1966. In reality the only things to die were the record players used to listen to Beatles records in reverse.

9. Are stars usually in on high profile hoaxes? Not always. In 2006 Actor Christopher Walken, famous for playing terrifyingly unhinged characters in films like The Deer Hunter, was surprised to hear he was running for President. The story was started by members of internet forum genmay.com. Several news agencies reported his 'candidacy'. World leaders fearing the prospect of Walken's 'aggressive negotiations' must have breathed a sigh of relief when he dismissed the story.

10.

So you can only trust what you've Yes, unless it's a mermaid.

seen with your own eyes.

PT Barnum wowed crowds by exhibiting the body of what seemed to be a mummified half Famous impressario human, half fish creature, calling it 'The Feejee Mermaid'. Far from being physical proof of the legendary sea creature's existence, it was later difference. proved to be the torso and head of a chimp sewn to the back end of a fish and covered in papier-mache, creating a monk-fish with a

CAPTION(S):

The Nessie picture known as 'The Surgeon's photograph' and a still from the alien autopsy film, left live

Corny joke... Crop circles

The Feejee mermaid
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 2, 2013
Words:756
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