Hoax: Hitler's Diaries, Lincoln's Assassins, and Other Famous Frauds

Hoax: Hitler's Diaries, Lincoln's Assassins, and Other Famous Frauds

Hoax: Hitler's Diaries, Lincoln's Assassins, and Other Famous Frauds

Hoax: Hitler's Diaries, Lincoln's Assassins, and Other Famous Frauds

Excerpt

Wanting to believe is the first of the two most powerful emotions involved in the success of a hoax or forgery. The second is greed. Greed is a harsh term, but in the end it is an accurate characterization of one of the motivations behind being duped by the forger or taken in by the hoax. Believing (the desire to believe what you hear or see) turns out to be the most powerful narcotic in causing people to accept forgeries and hoaxes. This is certainly true when it comes to the Shroud of Turin. Wanting to believe can cloud a person’s ability to think clearly and analytically. I have personally experienced several situations in which a forger has victimized an individual because the power of wanting to believe was stronger than all other rational thoughts. In several of the incidents where I was asked to pass judgment on a particular item, the victim sought proof only after having completed the purchase and paying out large sums of money, and with no provision to recover the money if the object proved other than authentic. Wanting to believe often dulls the mind.

My career as a scientist specializing in molecular biology and protein biochemistry exposed me to a wide variety of chemical and biological tests in the course of forty years of experimentation. Proficiency in spectroscopy, chemistry, and microscopy was essential to biomedical research. The public has come to learn that science and medicine can accomplish amazing things through the application of technology. The most common example today is that of DNA analysis, which has gained widespread attention in recent years, to the point where the average person has a reasonable understanding of what DNA is and of the power of DNA analysis in identifying individuals to nearly an absolute certainty. There are hundreds of biological and chemical tests in the scientist’s arsenal that allow the identification of materials with objective certainty. For instance, blood groups . . .

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