You shouldn't lie, that's one of the first things they teach you in school. Work hard and you'll get ahead. Lie and you'll get caught and it will be bad.
We think, anyway. The following examples provide some pretty stark evidence to the contrary...
In 1703, England received her first ever exotic traveler from Formosa (Now Taiwan): a charming man who enjoyed telling everyone all the crazy and foreign things he and his "people" did from the faraway land. One problem? That man was named George, he was white with blond hair. He was actually from France, had never been to Formosa and the people he was telling it to were thick as shit. (OK, that was actually several problems.)
He was about as Asian as Ryan Seacrest.
Bearing in mind, this was a time when general population saw light rain as a sign from God, they lapped up the stories from the "faraway traveler" and quizzed him about his fake home for years while he hung around and got high on opium.
How Did He Do It?
George Psalmanazar was no dumbass. He was top of his class, fluent in Latin by seven-years old and had a knack for philosophy. Born and raised in France, Psalmanazar decided to see the world but, more to the point, he decided he didn't want to pay for it. So, how do you get a bunch of strangers to let you into their homes for free? By posing as an exotic, otherworldly Japanese man.
Even Seacrest wouldn't do this.
He started off in Rome, pretending to be Japanese by eating strange foods and sleeping upright in a chair (like the Japanese) and talking in gibberish (like the Japanese). Sure enough, the Italians laughed at him.
Storming off and jumping ship to a more impressionable England, Psalmanazar switched to being Taiwanese. He talked in a made-up language, followed a foreign calendar and generally acted like a lunatic to seem more "exotic," and the English ate it up. He was so famous in England, he even wrote a hugely successful book about Formosa which of course was utter bullshit, complete with ridiculous claims about social behaviors, language and geography.
How Was He Caught?
You'd think it would have something to do with the fact that he looked nothing like other Formosans, but no, he sidestepped that tricky issue by explaining how upper-class Formosans rarely get sun because they sleep underground.
Instead, he just eventually confessed, and, oddly enough, there was never any major fallout. Psalmanazar was still basically liked and respected until his death, even when his stories became more transparently ridiculous and even when actual Formosans started poking holes in everything he'd ever said. Just goes to show you, there's nothing wrong with blatantly lying to people and taking their money.
What happens when a high school drop out, with no qualifications and no credentials, wants to be a university physics teacher? Well, he mostly gets told to fuck off.
But that didn't stop Marvin Hewitt, who decided the only way he'd get to be a teacher was to lie and fake his way into it, which is exactly what he did. Five goddamn times.
How Did He Do It?
A brilliant physicist at an early age, Hewitt had big dreams of becoming a teacher, but even bigger dreams of not going to school and devoting himself to a career in full-time bullshitting.
In 1945, he heard about a famous aerodynamics professor, stole the name and applied for a teaching position. He got the job, but colleagues soon found him out, probably because he took the name of a famous teacher.
"Hi there, my name is Professor Einstein Q. Science, and I'd like to teach you science."
Defeated, but not disheartened, Hewitt tried again, taking the name of a less well-known professor; Julias Ashkin. He was accepted into a teaching job in a Philadelphia college, and then another in Minnesota. He enjoyed years of fraudulent activity, and appeared to be successful, as he gained skills and fame. Eventually, he got too famous and the real Julias Ashkin wrote him telling him to knock that shit off, probably saying "No one gets to be a famous and respected Julias Ashkin except me, you understand? Also, I'm not going to be famous and respected."
Since then, Hewitt has taken on various identities in several colleges, each time eluding exposure for years at a time.
How Was He Caught?
As you read, he was caught several times throughout his career, but his final outing followed his fifth teaching job, where he assumed the identity of "Dr. Kenneth Yates" for a few years. As it turned out, the real Yates was working for an oil company, and when word got out, Fake Yates's colleagues demanded he be fired.
However, in the way that no one cared when Psalmanazar's secret was exposed, Hewitt received mostly positive recommendations from everyone he'd worked with and his last administrator went out of his way to emphasize that Hewitt was fired for "fraudulent qualifications," and not incompetence. He was even approached by The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the British Admiralty Office, but he turned them down.
So, again, for the kids reading at home, nothing bad ever happens when you drop out of school and lie.
In 1865, world-renowned doctor James Barry died of dysentery. The man had been one of the first to successfully perform a Caesarean section, and had once been the personal doctor of Napoleon's son. His fame and skill had made him the top-ranked doctor in the British army. But when the nurses did an autopsy on his body, it looked like they'd have to award him with another title: first female doctor in Britain.
That's right, James Barry was a woman and she had spent her life fooling the world.
How Did She Do It?
Born Margaret Bulkley, she decided that she wanted to become a doctor, a dream that met a major roadblock in the form of her vagina. After years of damning her glorious curse, Buckley decided to take her uncle's name, masquerading as a man to study to be a surgeon.
She pulled it off too, by wearing a long overcoat to hide her curves and telling everyone her voice was just "high pitched," and that her penis was just "vagina-like in mannerisms and appearance." She quickly rose through the ranks in the British army, healing famous people and generally putting all the men to shame. Barry padded herself with towels to make herself look more genuine, and somewhat amazingly developed a reputation as a "ladies man."
How Was She Caught?
Well she was never caught in her lifetime. Even after she stated that she absolutely did NOT want anyone to inspect her body after she died, nurses thought "fuck it" and looked anyway, discovering that Barry had been a woman all along, even noticing faint stretch marks on her skin, indicating she had once given birth.
When high-ranking officials learned of the shocking revelation, they decided to keep it secret, and sealed all records for 100 years so no one would ever find out. We assumed that this, like most vows of secrecy, came with the typical "But it's OK if Cracked talks about it" clause, so we went ahead and wrote this article.