Professor Beringer, of the University of Wurzburg in Germany, was a victim of a prank in 1725.
The joke played on Beringer by his colleagues would cost him dearly –
The Professor’s colleagues went up to some nearby mountains where they knew Beringer liked to hunt for fossils.
Whilst there they carved limestone into animal shapes and then also carved the name of God onto them, using various characters, before hiding them where they knew Professor Beringer would likely find them.
After Beringer found the stones he became convinced that the carvings must have been created by God himself, despite the fact that some of the other people who he had shown them to had pointed out the fact that the limestone clearly had chisel marks on it.
Beringer was so sure though that he stuck firm to his theory and even published a book on the stones.
Some time later his colleagues confessed what they had done but Beringer still believed in the stones and called the men agnostic.
Only when the two men testified in court that they had arranged the prank to discredit Beringer for being so conceited did he finally accept the truth.
Subsequently, Beringer attempted to buy up all of the copies of his book, presumably to relieve his embarrassment, and virtually ruined his finances in the process.
Aptly, the stones became known as ‘Lügensteine’ which translates as the ‘lying stones’.