BUYERS ARE LIARS. We've all heard it before, sometimes it rings true. But even the worst of buyers remain in the Little League when it comes to real, world-class liars.
On a quiet day with the Internet at my fingertips, I wondered: "Who are the biggest liars ever?" "What are the biggest lies ever told?"
Google can answer those questions. There are millions of sites focusing on liars and their lies. At the bottom of this post are links to a couple of my favorites.
Yes, we all lie to some extent sometimes. For example, Did you really thoroughly read Facebook's terms of service before you checked the box affirming you had done just that?. But following are some examples of Lies and Liars of a Different League:
(I was going to do a Top 10 list but there have just been too many big, interesting lies to stop at 10. My list ended up with more of a Dirty Dozen. It could have been longer, much longer.)
- The Greeks (AKA The Spartans) from a really long time ago. The city of Troy fell and the Trojans were defeated after the Greeks offered then a peace offering in the shape of a large wooden horse. As you probably heard by now, the horse was filled with Greek soldiers who attacked the city from within as the Trojans slept.
- Frank Abagnale. The real life inspiration for the movie "Catch Me If You Can," Abagnale successfully posed as an airline pilot, attorney, professor and pediatrician while cashing $2.5 million in phony checks throughout every state in the nation and 26 different countries.
- Charles Ponzi. Recognize the name? The scheme Ponzi developed in the 1920s was so successful, "Ponzi Schemes" continue to be used by today's liars (Bernie Madoff, for one). Ponzi duped thousands to invest in his original postage stamp con, in which he used money from new investors to pay earlier ones. It has been shown this scheme only works for a while ...
- Rosie Ruiz. Women can lie too. In 1980, Ruiz became the first woman to win the Boston Marathon. Problem was, she only ran the last half-mile of the race. Officials became suspicious after she finished the race remarkably sweat free.
- Oral Roberts. This televangelist claimed on several occasions to have raised the dead and compared himself to Jesus. While never being able to prove his claims, Roberts argued no one could prove they hadn't happened.
- Nikita Khrushev. When this Russian dictator lied to President Kennedy about not putting nuclear missiles in Cuba, it almost led to nuclear annihilation.
- Victor Lustig. I had never heard of this man before. A prolific conman and counterfeiter in the 1920s, Lustig also posed as a Paris city official and sold the Eiffel Tower to a scrap metal dealer for a pocketfull of money.
- Janet Cooke. It's neat to be a journalist and win a Pulitzer Prize. In 1980, Cooke, a reporter for the Washington Post, won hers for a story about an eight-year-old heroin addict in Washington, D.C. Problem was, he didn't exist. Cooke made the story up and had to give back the award.
- Big Tobacco. In 1994, Seven top tobacco executives testified under oath to Congress that they believed nicotine was not addictive. They won the nickname "The Seven Dwarfs."
- Bill Clinton. Along with publicly denying he had sexual encounters with an intern in the White House, Clinton also lied about it to Congress - something that lead the House of Representatives to vote to impeach him for perjury. Clinton remained in office but will always be remembered for wondered what the meaning of the word "is" really is.
- Adolf Hitler. Hitler and crew believed that a really big lie will eventually be believed if you repeat it often enough. They called their theory The Big Lie. They used the approach to blame the Jews for the loss of World War I and a host of other issues.
I saved the best (or worst) for last. My own personal top pick for biggest liar ever:
- Richard Nixon. Here's a man who accomplished some great things while president and will be remembered for none of them. Instead Nixon will go down in history as the only president to be driven from office because of a lie. Say "Richard Nixon" and one thinks "Watergate."
There you have them. Not a complete list to be sure, but hopefully an interesting one. I'll leave you with a quote about lying I'm sure we're all familiar with: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott.
Be careful what is woven ...