10 of the Most Famous and Weirdest Claims Ever Made
Since time immemorial, humans have been known to make all sorts of weird claims about themselves. Be it about time travel, ghost sightings, or some obscure superpower they possess, it’s more than likely that someone has already claimed it to gain popularity. But if you believe that such claims could only get as weird as your wildest dreams, we’ve got news for you! So, here are ten of the weirdest and famous claims that people have ever made in history.
1 During World War II, Allied pilots flying over Western Europe claimed that they saw fast-moving glowing objects following their aircraft. At first, the Allies believed this to be Nazi UFOs, but soon, Axis pilots also began to make similar claims. The newspaper reports of the time fondly referred to these sightings as the “foo fighters.”
The first sightings of “foo fighters” occurred in November 1944, when US night pilots based in France claimed that their aircraft were being followed by glowing objects in the sky.
The descriptions of the glowing lights often varied, but all accounts agreed that these lights would faithfully follow an aircraft up to great distances and at high speeds.
Since it was wartime, the US government took these claims very seriously, believing them to be a secret German weapon. However, most scientists were inclined to dismiss them as optical illusions or light reflected by the ice crystals in the air.
2 In an 1835 report, a New York newspaper, The Sun, claimed that a number of animals such as bison, unicorns, and beavers had been found on the Moon. This discovery was attributed to a renowned astronomer, Sir John Herschel. Later, when this report was proven to be false, the incident was dubbed the “Great Moon Hoax.”
On 25 August 1835, the first of six articles announcing the discovery of life on the Moon was published by the American newspaper, The Sun. These articles were said to have been written by Dr. Andrew Grant, a colleague of the renowned astronomer, Sir John Herschel.
According to Dr. Grant, Sir Herschel had found evidence that animals such as bison, unicorns, and two-legged beavers existed on the Moon.
Dr. Grant also offered a vivid description of the Moon as having huge craters, large amethyst crystals, and a lively ecosystem of rivers and vegetation. In September 1835, The Sun admitted that the article was nothing but a satire and that Dr. Andrew Grant was a fictitious figure made up by the original author.
3 In 1911, two women named Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain published a book called An Adventure, where they made claims of time travel and ghost sightings. The duo claimed that during their visit to the Palace of Versailles, they witnessed what was likely the events of 10 August 1792, six weeks before the French monarchy was abolished.
In 1901, two friends named Charlotte Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain went on a vacation to France, where they claimed to have had some paranormal experiences at the Palace of Versailles. In 1911, they published a book called An Adventure, in which they detailed their experiences during the visit.
According to this book, the women had gotten lost while searching for the Petit Trianon, a small chateau within the palace grounds, and were shocked to encounter people wearing 18th-century attire. They also claimed that during their stroll through the palace grounds, they saw the ghosts of Comte de Vaudreuil, a French nobleman, and Marie Antoinette, the young wife of Louis XVI.
A week after returning home, Moberly and Jourdain discussed their experiences and concluded that what they witnessed was likely the events of 10 August 1792. By 1913, Moberly and Jourdain, under their respective pseudonyms, had sold 11,000 copies of their book. (1, 2)
4 The New York Herald, in the 1870s, published an article claiming that there had been a mass escape of animals from the New York City Zoo, killing numerous people. At the end of the article, the author claimed that this news was fabricated to bring attention to the lack of security measures at the zoo. Nevertheless, the newspaper was criticized for inciting unnecessary panic amongst its readers.
The New York Herald was one of the most popular American newspapers in the 1870s. In November 1874, it came under serious fire for reporting that there had been a mass escape of animals from the New York City Zoo.
According to this report, numerous animals had broken out of the zoo and were rampaging all over the city. It also claimed that the whole incident had been “a bloody and fearful carnival,” with forty-nine people dead and two hundred others injured.
As expected, many readers were alarmed by these claims, but those who read it to the end were greeted by a note from the author saying that the article was a hoax.
5 Hong Xiuquan was a Chinese revolutionary leader who claimed to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ. In the 1850s, using his claims of divinity, Xiuquan commanded a religious and political uprising in China and established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. However, with his death in 1864, this kingdom soon fell to its opponents.
Hong Xiuquan was a Chinese Protestant Christian who believed that he was the second son of God and the brother of Jesus Christ. In 1837, when Xiuquan fell feverishly ill and was bedridden for days, he claimed that he’d had visions of a “father” and a “brother” who would help him rid his country of its evils.
Later, when a relative introduced him to Christian literature, Xiuquan became convinced that the father in his visions was the Christian God and that the brother was Jesus Christ. In his visions, Xiuquan also claimed that he had ascended to heaven and been bestowed the title of “Heavenly King.”
Emboldened by these beliefs, in 1850, Xiuquan led a rebellion against the powerful Qing Dynasty, nearly toppling it. By 1851, Xiuquan had successfully established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and proclaimed himself its Heavenly King. Fortunately, upon Xiuquan’s death in 1864, this rebellion came to a swift end. (1, 2)
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