“When I spread the story about the sharks around Marseilles, all the resorts from Plage des Catalans as far as Prado were empty for weeks. The mayor said the sharks had definitely come from Corsica, following a ship that had been throwing the rotten remains of smoked meat into the sea. The municipal commission asked for a company of chassepotsto be sent out on a tugboat expedition, and a hundred of them actually arrived at General Espivent’s headquarters! And the story about Lake Geneva? Journalists arrived from every part of Europe! Word got around that the underwater city had been built during the time of Caesar’s D bello gallico, when the lake was so narrow that the River Rhone could cross it without their waters merging. The local boatmen did good business carrying tourists to the middle of the lake, and used to pour oil on the water so they could see better . . .
A famous Polish archaeologist sent an article back home in which he described having seen a crossroads with an equestrian statue on the bed of the lake! Man’s principal trait is a readiness to believe anything. Otherwise, how could the Church have survived for almost two thousand years in the absence of universal gullibility?”
(Léo Taxil) Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery