Fake News: Disinformation, Deception, and Magical Thinking Over Time

The Stories

The story above was taken from the New Haven Register, August 21, 1895. It was originally printed at about the same time in the Winsted Evening Citizen. Unknown to readers at the time was that Louis Stone, a young reporter at the Evening Citizen, had fabricated, or greatly embellished the entire story. Partly, Stone had a creative imagination and simply liked to pull pranks, and also, he liked to sell papers. 

In the months that followed, regional media reporters flocked to Winsted and both media and locals were swept up into an almost collaborative effort to validate the original report. Who or what was this wild man? Was he a threat? Where can he be found? Who will he torment next? Local imaginations ran wild and journalists gave voice to their sightings with colorful, sensational descriptions. 

In July 1911, the Connecticut Western News would reflect back on these months summarizing the snowball effect that ensued. "The Stone wild man is historic. For one thing he supplied the only known instance when Stone, who is nominally one of the editors of the Winsted Citizen, but whose real purpose in life is the writing of wonder stories for the New York papers, overstruck himself. Stone worked as he still works on space and he figured that wild man worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $150. But he made such a good wild man of him that the story got away from him. It was too big for any one man. All the New York papers rushed up special writers, artists and literary specialists, whom Stone was forced to serve as guide, philosopher and friend without much pay. ...The New York World said the creature must be a giant baboon escaped from a circus and the New York Sun said it was tho Burbling Balderdash that roamed the Togly Wood. The only really accurate information came from the New York Recorder, which had a picture (presumably supplied by Stone) showing the wild man wearing hair on his shinbones and carrying a terrible club."

The two stories below further exemplify both the fearmongering and the ongoing attempts to identify the wild man. 


This page has paths:

This page references: