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10 More of the Greatest Scientific Hoaxes of All Time

The Nacirema Tribe

Published in American Anthropologist's June 1956 edition, Horace Miner wrote an extensive report on an overlooked tribe living in North America entitled “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Tribe.” In it, Milner described his time with the Nacirema, highlighting their belief that the human body is naturally unpleasant and feeble, necessitating the need for complex hygiene and cosmetic rituals. Chief among them was the adherence to regular oral care as a lack thereof negatively impacted social interactions within the tribe. Miner’s research was reprinted by many anthropological journals until it was revealed to be an elaborate hoax commenting on America’s obsession over vanity. Not surprising as Nacirema is American spelled backward.

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Steven Romano

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