Once upon a time (and by “once upon a time,” I mean August 25, 1835), there was an article in the New York Sun (a newspaper) announcing that life had been discovered on the moon. It was the first in a series of six articles the paper ran.
The articles claimed to be reprints from articles written by Dr. Andrew Grant that were published in the Edinburgh Journal of Science (this was credible because Edinburgh is closer to the moon than New York).
In the articles, Dr. Grant described animals on the moon including unicorns, two-legged beavers, and furry, winged humanoids (that looked something like bats). He also described rushing rivers and lush vegetation (obviously the unicorns and beavers liked baths followed by a great veggie dinner).
People loved the stories and bought about a gazillion copies of the Sun. That was fantastic for everyone except Truth who felt ignored since the stories were completely made up. (There had been an Edinbugh Journal of Science, but it had been discontinued about a year earlier. Grant was complete fiction as were the furry, winged critters. The unicorns were fact, but generally overlooked since they blended so nicely with the ground.) Truth kicked a few people around for fun and then went off to cause problems elsewhere.
The Sun ran the articles partly because it seemed like fun (it was), partly in an effort to increase circulation (it did), and partly to make fun of earlier, serious speculations about extraterrestrial life (mission accomplished).
NOTE: While I adore fiction (especially fiction with furry creatures and two-legged beavers), “making things up” is not widely recognized as an accepted research methodology.
A committee of scientists from Yale (which makes them a Committee), went to New York to see the Edinburgh Journal articles. The Sun employees sent the Committee Members hither and yon, from office to office, from editor to printing area and basically bamboozled them. The Scientists never realized they’d been fooled. The Sun employees had an absolutely marvelous time.
NOTE: Misleading and bamboozling professors is not widely recognized as an accepted methodology for successfully defending research.
A few weeks later the Sun admitted they’d made the whole things up. No one seemed to mind very much except the unicorns, who (once they realized they’d been made up) vanished immediately.