There are beavers on the moon.
It was in the paper so it must be true.
It was a Tuesday, the 25th of August, 1835 when the readers of The Sun opened up their daily paper to find out that Sir John Herschel, a renowned astronomer, had made a telescope powerful enough to see the surface of the moon. What Sir Herschel saw on the moon was unbelievably wondrous. There were vast forests and oceans on the moon and it was inhabited by bat-like humanoids (Vespertilio-homo), bison, unicorns and beavers without tails that lived in huts.
The series of six articles that appeared in The Sun was of course a hoax. No one really knows how many people actually believed The Sun’s fantastical ‘astronomical discoveries,’ but there were definitely some who did. The people who did believe in ‘moon beavers’ seem more than a little naive to us. But their ignorance was not only blissful, but also wondrous.
Our 21st century imaginations are severely limited by all knowledge that has been handed to us by the tireless work of the generations before us. This is not to suggest that we should believe that there are bisons and unicorns on the moon. But maybe we should allow ourselves to be more open to the possibilities of wonders. Maybe we shouldn’t let our imagination get lost in the flood of cold hard facts and information.