10 Remarkable Fraudulent Discoveries and Inventions that Shook the World
10 Remarkable Fraudulent Discoveries and Inventions that Shook the World

10 Remarkable Fraudulent Discoveries and Inventions that Shook the World

Khalid Elhassan - December 21, 2017

10 Remarkable Fraudulent Discoveries and Inventions that Shook the World
Crop Circles. Live Science

Crop Circles

In 1976, crops in a wheat field in Wiltshire, England, were mysteriously flattened in a circular pattern. Soon, mysterious circles of flattened crops, in increasingly elaborate patterns, began appearing in other fields throughout Britain. Once the phenomenon became widely known, it attracted self-declared experts, who offered mystical, magical, and pseudo scientific explanations for the mystery.

Theories ranged from secret weapons testing, to restless spirits and ghosts acting out, to Gaia, the primal Mother Earth, expressing her distress at what humanity had done to her planet. Early on, one of the explanations that gained the greatest currency was that the circles were created by space aliens, as a means of communicating with mankind in some as yet un-deciphered code.

That line of reasoning of aliens being behind the circles was buttressed by the fact that only a decade earlier, mysterious circles had appeared in Australian crops. Many had attributed the Australian circles to UFO landings, labeling them “[flying] saucer nests”. Wiltshire, where the first British crop circle appeared, is located near Stonehenge, and the region is rife with burial mounds and ancient marker stones. New Age types had long claimed those landmarks were linked to others throughout Britain via “leys” – mysterious energy paths.

For years, the region had also been a hotbed for UFO watch parties – England’s Roswell, if you would. So it seemed apt that the first crop circles, or saucer nests, would appear in its vicinity. It was not long before theories combining Stonehenge, ancient Druids, mystic energy paths, and the recently revealed crop circles, were combined in a complex explanation for the phenomenon. The circles themselves became magnets for New Age mystical tourism.

In reality, the crop circles had been the brainchild of Doug Bower, an English prankster. One night in 1976, he had been drinking with his friend Dave Chorley, and the two got to talking about UFOs, aliens, flying saucers and the mysterious Australian circles. Midway through the conversation, Bower suddenly said: “Let’s go over there and make it look like a flying saucer has landed“. As they confessed in 1991, when they finally revealed the mystery to journalists, it had been incredibly easy. As they demonstrated to print and TV journalists by creating other crop circles in just minutes, all it took was rope, a wooden plank, and a wire to help them walk in a straight line.

A “cereologist” – a crop circle “expert” who had made a living for years by writing and lecturing about the phenomenon, was called in. He declared the circles authentic. Then the hammer was dropped on him, when it was revealed to that it had been a simple hoax and prank all along. As Bower and Chorley explained, they had created all crop circles up to 1987, when other pranksters discovered how to make their own circles and patterns, and joined in on the fun.

10 Remarkable Fraudulent Discoveries and Inventions that Shook the World
Vaccine autism hoax’s aftermath. Medium

Vaccine Autism Hoax

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor, published a study in The Lancet – a prestigious medical journal. In it, he alleged a link between the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and autism. Dr. Wakefield’s claims were widely reported, and led to a sharp drop in the rates for vaccination in the United Kingdom and Ireland. That resulted in numerous children dying or suffering serious permanent injuries.

Only problem? The study published in The Lancet was fraudulent. Not “controversial”, or “poorly researched” or “mistaken”, but straightforward deliberately fraudulent. As in the serious and deliberate type of criminal fraud for which fraudsters lose the license to practice their profession. Following Dr. Wakefield’s study, other large scale studies were conducted, but found no evidence to support his claims. Researchers then examined Dr. Wakefield’s methodology – how did he arrive at his conclusions, linking MMR and autism?

It turned out that the doctor had simply fabricated the evidence. He did not make “mistakes” in his research – he simply made up much of the research, inventing it out of thin air. And as icing on the cake, transforming the doctor from an incompetent researcher or crank into a cartoonish villain, it emerged he had been paid 55,000 British Pounds to claim that MMR vaccines caused autism. Several of the parents used in his “study” were litigants suing pharmaceutical companies. Naturally, he had failed to disclose that conflict.

With egg on The Lancet’s face, its editor in chief wrote: “It seems obvious now that had we appreciated the full context in which the work reported in the 1998 Lancet paper by Wakefield and colleagues was done, publication would not have taken place“. After the vaccine hoax study was revealed as a fraud, the study was retracted by The Lancet. As to Dr. Wakefield, he was found guilty by British medical authorities of serious professional misconduct and fraud, and had his medical license revoked.

Unfortunately, by then the former doctor’s hoax had found resonance within certain population segments, who went on to become fervent anti vaccination activists. Notwithstanding that the study upon which their activism is based has been debunked as a fraud, those activists convinced many of the poorly informed, poorly educated, or gullible, that vaccines are bad for children.

Thus, one of the greatest medical advances in human history, which helped end widespread epidemics that killed a majority of children before they reached adulthood, is threatened. Childhood diseases that had been all but eliminated are making a comeback, and a steadily growing number of unvaccinated children are dying or suffering grave illnesses that leave them crippled for life. As such, this fraud has been described as the most damaging hoax of the past century – a fraud that has already killed or maimed many children, and has the potential to kill or maim millions more.