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The joke’s on you: Top 3 April Fools’ hoaxes in history

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April 1 is associated with pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes, so much so that it’s often called the ‘April Fools’ Day’, since the 19th century. We bring to you the most popular (and surprisingly believable) hoaxes in history:  

Paul is Dead

Perhaps the biggest rock hoax in history, this is a hoax born out of the Beatles’ minds themselves, as was revealed by Paul McCartney in an interview later. The conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney died in an automobile crash in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike, took the world by storm in 1969. The hoax was further accelerated partly by the Beatles themselves. They seemed to be delighted in keeping the “Paul Is Dead” myth alive, peppering songs and album artwork with opaque references to McCartney’s crash and placing mysterious “messages” deep in songs (which could only be heard when the songs were played backwards).    

Big Ben Goes Digital

big ben goes

On April 1, 1980, BBC reported that the iconic London structure was going to be given a digital readout. BBC reported that four large LCD screens were to replace the outdated clock face in order to give London a more modern appeal. The news elicited a huge response, with shocked and angry listeners clogging up BBC’s phone lines. In a related hoax, the Japanese BBC station claimed that the clock hands would be given away to the first four listeners to contact the station.    

Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity

On April 1, 1976, the astronomer Patrick Moore announced that at 9:47 A.M a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to take place. The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth’s own gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment when this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. Minutes after 9:47 A.M, BBC got a number of calls from people who claimed to have experienced the floating sensation.Though one of the most popular hoaxes of the 20th century, it wasn’t just a random joke. Moore intended it as a spoof of a pseudo-scientific astronomical theory.

Shubham Kaushik
[email protected]

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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