In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore ... in the Old Silurian Period the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long ... seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. ... There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
-- Mark Twain
Made-up nonsense posing as reputable science is all over the Internet.
Some of it can be quite amusing. Why should the conspiracy theorists have all the fun?
And Iain M Banks was an agent.