vs. Donald the Dumb’s Fake News
Donald the Dumb derides fake news. However, fake news for him is all news about which he doesn’t wish to address. Regardless what our fake president says or thinks, which he doesn’t often do at the same time, he is not the first to ridicule news items as fake.
While I was doing some research about Edinburgh, Scotland, I came across an essay regarding the Edinburgh Journal of Science. It dealt with Dr. Andrew Grant and Sir John Herschel. Grant wrote the essay nearly two hundred years ago about Herschel’s discovery of life on the moon.
However, I am getting ahead of the story. Herschel seemed to have been a Carl Sagan of his time. He had gone to Cape of Good Hope, South Africa in 1834 to construct a new and fabulous telescope.
For much of a year and a half, Herschel worked on the construction of his observatory, which contained his newly designed 40-foot telescope. Interestingly, it was able to transfer the images from the telescope of the lunar surface to a large table at the base of the telescope. This allowed several people to see simultaneously what the telescope was seeing.
While observing the moon, Herschel discovered life on our nearest celestial neighbor. After his findings, the New York Sun newspaper ran a series of a half-dozen articles related to what he had found on the surface of the moon. The first article appeared on August 25, 1835. The New York Sun claimed that they were merely reprinting articles that were published by the Edinburgh Journal of Science.
The New York Sun trumpeted a long list of things that Herschel found on the moon. This is a drawing of winged humanoids, which he discovered flying on the moon.
This drawing has several humanoids talking in their village.
This one shows drawings of unicorns.
In addition to the bat-like humanoids and unicorns, Herschel discovered two-legged beavers, amethyst crystals, and massive amounts of water and vegetation.
What was interesting about the Great Moon fake news was that sales of the New York Sun spiked due to Herschel’s great discovery. Very few even questioned the inaccuracies of any of his claims. It was quite some time before the New York Sun’s parody was discovered. Most authorities believed that a reporter for the New York Sun, Richard Adams Locke, wrote these half-dozen essays as a satire to confront Rev. Thomas Dick. The pastor had written a book claiming that the moon’s population had 4.2 billion lifeforms.
It wasn’t until September 16, 1835 that the newspaper confessed to this fake news report about life on the moon. One of the reasons that many readers bought into this fake news was that Dr. John Herschel was as well-known as Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson are today.
A half century after the Great Moon fake news, Jules Verne wrote Journey Through the Impossible (1882). Surely, the Great Moon fake news influenced Jules Verne.
In 1902, Georges Méliès produced a film, A Trip to the Moon. This is a remastered version of the movie. Méliès, along with Jules Verne, benefitted from the Great Moon fake news reports.
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