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15 of the biggest scientific hoaxes

By: Bryan Nelson on July 26, 2010, 12:15 p.m.
Man brushes his teeth in front of a foggy mirror

Photo: bark/Flickr

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The Nacirema

A paper written by Horace Miner and published in a 1956 edition of the journal American Anthropologist titled "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" focused on an obscure tribe of North Americans who were obsessed with oral cleanliness.

Although it read like a genuine anthropological study, it was in fact a satire of anthropological papers that describe "other" cultures. Nacirema, spelled backwards, is actually American. Miner was describing the American "ritual" of brushing our teeth.

To this day, the paper is used to fool students into reading about themselves as if they were being documented by a foreign anthropologist.