WXXI AM News

Connections: Why Do We Believe, Or Want To Believe, In Hoaxes?

Mar 2, 2016

The expression, "I saw it with my own eyes," conveys a level of truth, but is seeing always believing?

University of Rochester professor Joan Saab is researching visual hoaxes from the 19th century and why people are willing to suspend their disbelief. We talk about why the "petrified man" -- also known as the Cardiff Giant -- and the bat-like people and unicorns of the Great Moon Hoax captured the imaginations of people around the world even after it was clear the stories were not true. Saab will give a presentation on the subject Wednesday eveningĀ at the University of Rochester.

Also, you may have noticed that Thomas Jefferson has been quoted frequently by politicians, but in many cases, the quotes are misattributed. We explore the relationship between hearing or reading and believing by looking at the use of spurious quotes. Our guests:

  • Joan Saab, associate professor of art history and visual and cultural studies at the University of Rochester
  • Anna Berkes, research librarian at the Jefferson Library at Monticello