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June 22, 2013


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I foresee a dan brown novel.


"for some reason I have a preconceived idea that elaborate hoaxes are a more recent phenomenon."

I'd be interested to hear more about this idea. I'll admit to not having given it much thought, but your reasoning would be interesting to hear. (I wonder about, say, the Donation of Constantine. Maybe it doesn't count as elaborate enough, and likely at least some of the people involved believed in it, and so were hoaxed rather than hoaxers, but it might be some evidence of old hoaxes.)

Ann Tweedy

Matt, I was speaking completely off the cuff there, and I could well be wrong. The Donation of Constantine seems different to me because it appears to have been created for a strategic purpose and so was not a hoax for it's own sake (though who knows--that could be true of the book as well). I was thinking that people hundreds of years ago probably had less time for such foolishness and also that part of the power (and lure) of hoaxes today lies in the ability to spread them through mass communication, which is tied to the invention of printing press. But my assumption about lack of time probably was not true of the rich anyway, so perhaps it was a hoax. It would be much more exciting if it was written in an unknown language or was encrypted though.


Hi Ann,
I certainly can't say I feel certain about the donation of constantine as a hoax, certainly not of the same sort, really. It was just the first possible example I could think of. The book is very interesting- I'd read a bit about it some time ago. I suppose I'd be shocked if it was, properly speaking, an unknown language as opposed to a code of some sort, assuming that we didn't want to count that as a language itself. (Lots of deep issues come up soon w/ that question, I'd think.) But, I was glad to see it again. I'd forgotten about it.

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