5 Important Skills That Are Horrifyingly Easy to Fake
Everybody cheats. No, we're not talking about in a sexual way -- this ain't Cosmo. We're talking, say, fudging a few cents on your tax return or sneaking some notes into the exam room, or maybe making sure your friend got the shitty controller when he came over to play Smash Bros. But there's a momentous difference between finagling your way to the top of your fantasy football league, and defrauding your way into a job where you're responsible for other people's lives.
Yet, in positions that decide life and death, you still find people cheating their way into the job. And it's way too fucking easy.
The People Babysitting Our Nukes Cheat on Proficiency Tests
Chances are you don't give nukes a whole lot of thought -- the Cold War is over and done with, after all -- but by some estimates, the U.S. is still sitting on over 7,000 nuclear warheads. And when you've got that many apocalypse rockets sitting around collecting dust, you've also got to employ a well-trained staff to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't, you know, stop sitting around collecting dust.
"If our B83s can't drown in cobwebs in peace, then by God, the terrorists have truly won."
Manning an air force nuclear launch station may not have ever been the subject of a badass Tom Cruise movie, but standards and expectations are still somewhere way up in the clouds. These bases aspire to a "zero defect" culture, meaning that the officers at the station are subject to monthly proficiency tests. They're expected to score 100 percent, and anything below 90 percent means failure and getting relegated to polishing the ol' warhead, which is a punishment we just made up because it sounded funny. These extremely high standards, plus low morale led to nearly half of the launch crew at Montana's Malmstrom Air Force Base saying "fuck it" and simply texting each other all the answers -- a fact that only came to light when, holy shit, those very same officers were being investigated for illegal drug use.
"Aim high ... real high."
And if you're not huddled beneath your desk just yet, widespread cheating on security exams also compromised the safety of nuclear materials at the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tennessee (aka one of the places that produced the Big Ones we dropped on Japan during World War II), where an 82-year-old nun was able to stroll right up to a building containing bomb-grade uranium and splash blood all over it, because apparently when nuns vandalize things they do it in the creepiest manner possible.
"The blood of Christ be with us. The blood of diseased pigs and rats be with you."
We're not quite done yet, because this cheating-enabled nuclear peril doesn't end with weapons facilities, but extends to nuclear reactor-powered aircraft carriers as well. Several Navy crewmen aboard the USS Nimitz were so busy working 100-hour weeks that they "cheated on tests of their technical knowledge of the aircraft carrier's nuclear reactor operations and procedures." And it's probably good for all of us that they came clean, too, because they had also strongly considered sabotaging the ship's reactor ... just so they could get a day off.
Those fantasy football teams won't manage themselves, after all.
Thousands of Doctors Cheated to Get Their Job
When you entrust someone with the very survival of your mortal meatsack, you really hope that person went through some head-scratchingly difficult assessments of his or her knowledge in order to earn the privilege to look at that weird rash on your junk. And, to be certain, they did ... what's not so certain is whether they knew all those answers, or if they simply had enough scratch to be able to afford them.
There are four main tests required to achieve a physician's license, and back in the mid-1980s, the FBI discovered that physician wannabes were rampantly cheating on three of them. It seems a student could either A) study his or her ass off, or B) cough up $50,000 to buy a stolen copy of the test and memorize it. And if they happened to be one of the lucky first few buyers, they could recoup their investment by reselling it to a secondary group of students for 10 grand a pop, who could then turn around and sell it for five grand in a scheme that one doctor described as "just like cutting heroin" -- otherwise known as the exact opposite of the type of behavior one wishes to observe in young people who aspire to a career in prescribing drugs.
"Take two every four hours, but take four every two hours if you want to get real fucked up."
And the cheating was even more prevalent in those who attended foreign medical schools. See, American medical schools are goddamn difficult to get into -- there are scads of hopefuls attempting to claw their way into a scarce few openings -- so students who can't get into a school at home will often complete their studies abroad. And when officials with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates took a close look at the exams from foreign med school graduates applying for American internships and residencies (a test that only one in three normally pass), they found that anywhere from a quarter to over half of them cheated.
The others simply insisted that "Ooh-ee-ooh-ah-ah-ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang" was a legitimate cure for a broken leg.
"But that all happened forever ago!" you say. "Why should I be worried about it now?" And to that we say, first of all, that the '80s were not forever ago (now get off our lawn). And secondly: think about your doctor. How old is he or she? If he's, say, in his mid-50s, he would have been in his residency right around the time all this wanton cheating was going down. And just to illustrate that this medical test fuckery didn't end way back when, a 2012 investigation by CNN revealed that dishonest radiologists -- you know, the people who make a living pelting your body with potentially deadly and/or superpower-inducing doctor rays -- have been sharing the answers to their certification exams for who knows how long.
"They got this section on Cancer, but I'm a Gemini. Little help?"
It's like a grown-up version of your middle school "study guide" racket, if little Jimmy from sixth grade was who you trusted to reinsert your spleen after a motorcycle accident.
FBI Agents Cheat on Exams About Procedure
In case you live under a rock with shitty Internet access, in recent years the U.S. government has been heavily criticized for achieving, um, proctologic levels of intimacy with our personal communications. But never fear, because right around the time all these new, highly controversial procedures for investigating U.S. citizens were implemented, the FBI also implemented testing regimens under which agents must regularly demonstrate their knowledge of said procedures by taking open-book exams.
Exams on which they prodigiously cheated.
Let us repeat: They cheated ... on open-book exams.
"Oh, calm down. When is research, or finding answers, ever going to be a day-to-day thing to do here?"
Now, we're sure the protocols for initiating warrantless investigations and wiretapping people's everythings can get pretty in-depth, so we can understand the "we'll just let you guys literally look up all the answers" thing. But inspectors realized something was up when hundreds of agents started completing the 90-minute exam in as little as 20 minutes. It turns out, when the time came to take the exam, agents were throwing themselves a big-ass exam party -- taking it in groups, shouting the answers across the room to each other, and presumably emailing the answers to each other from your Gmail account just for the hell of it.
And if they got real bored, signing you up for donkey porn sites.
But didn't the FBI take preemptive measures to prevent this type of funny business? Sure they did -- in the form of the ominous-sounding Question 51, which required agents to "certify that I only consulted the DIOG, notes or training aids but no other person while taking this exam." And which the cheating agents had absolutely no qualms about answering dishonestly. We've never felt safer as a nation.
India Has an Epidemic of Fake Airline Pilots
On January 11, 2011, IndiGo Airlines pilot Parminder Kaur Gulati demonstrated either gross incompetence or completely badass flying machine mastery when she landed a 100-passenger Airbus A320 jet airliner nose wheel first.
She made damn sure anyone reclining their seats during landing paid for their sins.
Now, if you've ever flown on an airplane of that size, you know that the typical landing procedure is to touch down at an upward angle on the sturdier back wheels, then rapidly reduce the aircraft's speed until the craft angles down, the front wheel meets asphalt, and the passengers collectively ease their sphincters' death grips. Gulati's nose-first technique, besides reminding onlookers of an utterly non-humorous version of that falling whale scene from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, damaged the front landing gear and, in the words of the news report about the event, "could have even led to the flying machine disintegrating and catching fire," a statement that you'll notice contains entirely too many instances of the words "disintegrating" and "fire" to be comfortably uttered in reference to a passenger flight.
She was "crying baby" and "mass diarrhea" away from worst flight bingo.
Even more disconcerting was the fact that Gulati had pulled this same stunt at least 15 other times, indicating that either she was an incorrigible show-off or that she was really, really fucking bad at landing planes.
But how could someone be a pilot and be bad at landing planes? Isn't that, you know, sort of a required skill to have in order to qualify for a pilot's license? Well, here's the thing: further investigation revealed that Gulati hadn't qualified for a pilot's license at all, but had instead cheated her way into the cockpit. And she wasn't the only one -- the licenses of up to 4,000 pilots might have been obtained by questionable means, thanks to an apparently balls-deep corruption of India's airline industry.
Investigators uncovered a widespread racket of cranking out fake flyboys (and flygirls), ranging from pilots and licensing officials providing would-be pilots with pre-answered test sheets to shady flight school instructors willing to take bribes in exchange for recording as few as 40 hours of flying practice as 200.
"You know, I count Mile High Club hours as triple ..."
Jesus, people. We realize the uniform's cool and all, but being able to hurl hundreds of people through the sky without horribly murdering them takes practice.
Army Recruiters Help Recruits Conceal Mental Health Issues
Back in the mid-2000s, it was getting downright difficult for the U.S. Army to convince young people to serve, even with two wars to choose from. Recruiters were under shit-tons of pressure to meet their quotas, and sometimes meeting your quotas means fudging some paperwork to accept recruits who may be a little less than, shall we say, "ideal." In fact, they got so desperate for new troops that in 2004 one in five recruiters were under investigation for "recruitment improprieties," ranging from hiding criminal records to slipping recruits the answers to aptitude tests to straight up ignoring candidates' fucking mental health histories. Yeah.
"You can't be all you can be by knifing up hobos, son. You gotta aim higher."
Nowhere was that last one more apparent than in a case in Ohio, in which a 21-year-old walked directly out of a psychiatric ward and into a recruitment office and was welcomed with a veritable ticker tape parade. All it would've taken to reveal the young man's troubled (and violent) past was a quick Google search. But it ultimately took his parents' repeated visits to the recruitment office and, eventually, a good pounding on their congressman's door before Uncle Sam finally agreed to un-recruit their son.
"Damn. Guess we have to get rid of most of our drill sergeants too."
Meanwhile, in Denver, David McSwane showed up at a recruitment office with a double whammy: he was both a high school dropout and a heavy marijuana user, two problems that should get you a quick and intimate introduction to the sidewalk by any recruiter worth his salt. Instead, the recruiter helped McSwane print himself a nice (fake) high school diploma, and then personally accompanied him to procure the finest pee cleaners that money can buy (we're guessing you don't procure those on the "nice" side of town). Unfortunately for the recruiter, McSwane was just doing all this for shits and giggles (he was actually an honor student and only smoked pot that one time, Mom, he swears). Also, he happened to have a tape recorder.
Best of all, he never once called it fucking "recruitergate."
The examples of recruiting shenanigans take a turn for the depressing when you look at the 2006 case of Jared Guinther, in which the Army damn nigh overlooked the teen's autism and signed him up as a cavalry scout -- one of their most pants-pissingly dangerous positions -- even after his mother called the recruiters to inform them of his disability. According to her, "Jared would play with buttons for hours on end. He'd play with one toy for days. Loud noises bothered him. He was scared to death of the toilet flushing, the lawn mower." In other words, precisely the kind of kid you want to toss directly into combat.
Ah, they'd probably just have him watch the nukes instead.
Gavin wants to see a movie set when the Muppets were first discovered, starring a bewildered evolutionary biologist. He has a Twitter.
For more things that should terrify you, check out 5 Reasons Internet Access in America is a Disaster and 7 Reasons the TSA Sucks (A Security Expert's Perspective).
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