Science, we assume, involves stuffed-shirt intellectuals engaged in the noble pursuit of knowledge and discovery. And we tend to think of "trolls" as basement-dwelling hate machines who enjoy antagonistic lunacy as its own reward. You would think there wouldn't be much overlap between these two groups. You would be wrong.
Science has seen some epic trolling over the years, so much so that it at times makes 4chan look like a chamber of reasoned discourse.
6Johann Beringer Gets Trolled by Fake Fossils
In the early 18th century, giant-ass dinosaur bones and other fossils were being dug up all over the place, but people had no idea where the hell they came from. Religion still had a firm grip on the scientific community, so the notion that the fossils could belong to a species of animal that had since become extinct was rejected by many, and even considered blasphemous, since God would never allow any of his creations to simply die out. Some people even argued that God had buried the bones himself to test their faith, because rationality occasionally hangs by a very fine thread.
"What an odd shape the sand sometimes takes, huh?"
A particularly vocal supporter of this theory was Johann Beringer, the head of the natural history department of the University of Wurzburg in Germany. He was firmly convinced that all fossils were "hidden by the Author of Nature for his own pleasure," although a fair elaboration of what that "pleasure" might have been was never fully provided. And honestly, we don't understand why someone so devoutly religious would be so firmly adherent to the idea that God threw a bunch of bones down to Earth just to screw with people, because it sure makes the Almighty sound like a giant douchemungus.
Anyway, two colleagues of Beringer, J. Ignatz Roderick and Georg von Eckhart, decided they actually would carve strange fake fossils and bury them to screw with Beringer. Instead of calling bullshit the second he saw the obvious (we cannot stress that word enough) forgeries, Beringer couldn't believe his luck. Figuring he had won the fossil lottery (that's a thing, right?), he scooped them up and tossed them into his fossil sack (that's a thing, right?) to carry them home for further analysis. Heartened by this (a phrase here meaning "laughing their scientific dicks off"), Roderick and Eckhart made even more fossils for Beringer to find. These new ones were engraved with Syrian, Hebrew, and Babylonian inscriptions, including one engraved with the word "Jehovah," the Hebrew name for God.
"There's another one over here!"
Astonishingly, Beringer ate the whole thing up. He published a book cataloging his amazing finds in which he actually wrote that the fossils were "so exactly fitted to the dimensions of the stones, that one would swear that they are the work of a very meticulous sculptor." Even when Roderick and Eckhart tried to tell him they'd tricked him (their sides having been sufficiently split by joyous guffaws), he refused to believe them. Instead, Beringer accused them of trying to shake his faith and block the publication of his work.
It wasn't until after publishing his Lithographiae Wirceburgensis, when Beringer found yet another miraculous fossil with his own goddamn name on it, that he finally accepted that he'd been bamboozled. He spent the next few years in a legal battle with Roderick and Eckhart (who, in their defense, had tried to tell him), while simultaneously trying to buy up all the copies of his book to save his reputation. Bizarrely, it was Eckhart and Roderick who were disgraced for perpetrating the hoax, while Beringer kept his job and wrote several more books despite being a demonstrably terrible scientist.
These are some of the actual stones, displayed at Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands.