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The use of science to sell strange and fraudulent information is not new. There have always been crooks, cranks and chartatans out for a free lunch.

When John W. Keely, founder of the Keely Motor Company that never made a car, died in 1898, the New York Times headline called him “The Greatest Fraud of the Century”. Why? Because he had extracted millions of dollars from investors to fund his schemes for making engines that ran on water. He did it by playing on ordinary people’s ignorance of science and their greed.

Of course nothing could happen like this today… Well, apart from Stanley Meyers of Utah, who was prosecuted for fraud in the 1990s for selling engines that — you guessed it — ran on water. Or the Australian inventors who believe they have cracked the sources of infinite energy (water).

Join Emeritus Professor Brynn Hibbert, President of The Royal Society of NSW, to learn some of the wackier examples of scientific and not so scientific fraud, starting in the Middle Ages in Europe and finishing in Sydney in the 21st Century.

When: Thursday 22 February 2018, 12:30-1:30pm.
Where: Mitchell Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney
Cost: Free and open to the public.
Contact: or 02 9262 7300

Image: THE KEELY MOTOR, 1877. ‘Pennsylvania – A private test of the mechanical wonder in Philadelphia.’ The most celebrated perpetual-motion machine fraud of the 19th century. Wood engraving from an American newspaper. Courtesy Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, via Alamy.