Thursday, April 02, 2009

Discover Beautiful San Serriffe

Speaking of hoaxes, here's an elaborate one created by a British newspaper in 1977. On April 1 of that year, the Guardian published a seven-page special section about San Serriffe, a series of islands in the Indian Ocean that didn't exist. You can read all the details here. Perhaps because the islands sounded like an appealing vacation spot, the paper was deluged with calls and letters asking for more information.

My favorite detail is one worthy of Monty Python. The paper got several advertisers to go along with the prank -- four of the seven pages were taken up by ads. The Guardian made up its own:
The Guardian itself invented a fake ad, inviting applicants for the position of Reader in Lunar Spectroscopy at the University of San Serriffe. “Department of Lunar Studies: A vacancy will shortly exist for a Reader in Lunar Spectroscopy. With special emphasis on the extraction of energy from moonbeams. The post is tenable from October 1st, 1977, at a salary in the range SSCorona 5,650-7,100. (At present exchange rates C1—£4.30 sterling). Free housing and use of outrigger.” Many people sent in their CV. One applicant began his letter, “Although not a lunar spectroscopist...” and proceeded to ask if any other positions were available.
(Via The Morning News)


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