Thomas Edison was concerned about the way visitors to his office helped themselves to
his expensive Havana cigars. Since he wouldn't lock them up, his secretary suggested he
have cigars made from cabbage leaves and substitute them for the Havanas. Edison agreed,
then forgot about it, and only remembered later when the Havanas started vanishing again.
When he asked his secretary why the bogus cigars hadn't arrived, she told him they had
arrived and had been given to his manager -- who, not knowing they were fakes, had packed
them for Edison to take on a trip. "And do you know," Edison laughed, "I
smoked every one of those cigars myself!"
Today in the Word, December 16, 1992.
Bob Harris, weatherman for NY TV station WPIX-TV and the nationally syndicated
independent Network news, had to weather a public storm of his own making in 1979. Though
he had studied math, physics and geology at three colleges, he left school without a
degree but with a strong desire to be a media weatherman. He phoned WCBS-TV, introducing
himself as a Ph.D. in geophysics from Columbia U. The phony degree got him in the door.
After a two-month tryout, he was hired as an off-camera forecaster for WCBS. For the next
decade his career flourished. He became widely known as "Dr. Bob." He was also
hired by the New York Times as a consulting meteorologist. The same year both the Long
Island Railroad and then Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn hired him.
Forty years of age
and living his childhood dream, he found himself in public disgrace and national
humiliation when an anonymous letter prompted WCBS management to investigate his academic
credentials. Both the station and the New York Times fire him. His story got attention
across the land. He was on the Today Show, the Tomorrow Show, and in People Weekly, among
others. He thought he'd lose his home and never work in the media again. Several days
later the Long Island Railroad and Bowie Kuhn announced they would not fire him. Then
WNEW-TV gave him a job. He admits it was a dreadful mistake on his part and doubtless
played a role in his divorce. "I took a shortcut that turned out to be the long way
around, and one day the bill came due. I will be sorry as long as I am alive."
Nancy Shulins, Journal News, Nyack, NY.
In late September 1864 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was leading his
troops north from Decatur, Alabama, toward Nashville. But to make it to Nashville, Forrest
would have to defeat the Union army at Athens, Alabama. When the Union commander, Colonel
Wallace Campbell, refused to surrender, Forrest asked for a personal meeting, and took
Campbell on an inspection of his troops. But each time they left a detachment, the
Confederate soldiers simply packed up and moved to another position, artillery and all.
Forrest and Campbell would then arrive at the new encampment and continue to tally up the
impressive number of Confederate soldiers and weaponry. By the time they returned to the
fort, Campbell was convinced he couldn't win and surrendered unconditionally!
Today in the Word, June 27, 1993.
Christopher Columbus kept two records of the distances traveled on his first voyage to
the New World in the Santa Maria. One was true, he thought, but he deliberately faked the
other. Ironically, the fake log turned out to be the more accurate of the two. To
alleviate his crew's fears that they were getting too far from home on an unknown sea,
Columbus gave them a reduced mileage estimate. When, for example, he told them on Sept.
11, 1492, that they had covered 16 leagues, he recorded 20 leagues in his secret log.
Though he didn't know it, Columbus' "true" distance records were overestimated
by 9% on the average. His faked distances came out closer to the actual distances
traveled. When the crew found out about his deception, they threatened to mutiny. Before
they did, however, land--and a New World-- appeared.
Parade Magazine, March 18, 1984.
In 1212 a French shepherd boy by the name of Steven claimed that Jesus had appeared to
him disguised as a pilgrim. Supposedly, Jesus instructed him to take a letter to the king
of France. This poor, misguided boy told everyone about what he thought he had
encountered. Before long he had gathered a large following of more than thirty thousand
children who accompanied him on his pilgrimage. As Philip Schaff records it, when asked
where they were going, they replied, "We go to God, and seek for the holy cross
beyond the sea." They reached Marseilles, but the waves did not part and let them go
through dry-shod as they expected.
It was at Marseilles that tragedy occurred. The children met two men, Hugo Ferreus and
William Porcus. The men claimed to be so impressed with the calling of the children that
they offered to transport them across the Mediterranean in seven ships without charge.
What the children didn't know was that the two men were slave traders. The children
boarded the ships and the journey began, but instead of setting sail for the Holy Land
they set course for North Africa, "where they were sold as slaves in the Muslim
markets that did a large business in the buying and selling of human being. Few if any
returned. None ever reached the Holy Land." Two cunning men enjoyed enormous
financial profits simply because they were willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of
Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American
Jungle, 1991, Multnomah Press, pp. 60- 61.
As physics professor at Adelaide University in Australia, Sir Kerr Grant used to
illustrate the time of descent of a free- falling body by allowing a heavy ball suspended
from the lecture-theater roof trusses to fall some 30 feet and be caught in a sand bucket.
Each year the bucket was lined up meticulously to catch the ball -- and each year
students secretly moved the bucket to one side, so that the ball crashed thunderously to
the floor. Tiring of this rather stale joke, the professor traced a chalk line around the
bucket. The students moved the bucket as usual, traced a chalk mark around the new
position, rubbed it out and replaced the bucket in its original spot. "Aha!" the
professor explained, seeing the faint outline of the erased chalk mark. He moved the
bucket over it and released the ball -- which thundered to the floor as usual.
Reader's Digest, Contributed by D.G. Dewar.
"Marathoner Loses by a Mustache." So read the headline of a recent Associated
Press story. It appeared that Abbes Tehami of Algeria was an easy winner of the Brussels
Marathon--until someone wondered where his mustache had gone! Checking eyewitness
accounts, it quickly became evident that the mustache belonged to Tehami's coach, Bensalem
Hamiani. Hamiani had run the first seven-and-a-half miles of the race for Tehami, then
dropped out of the pack and disappeared into the woods to pass race number 62 on to his
pupil. "They looked about the same," race organizers said. "Only one had a
mustache." It's expected that the two will never again be allowed to run in Belgium.
Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, January 1992.
Deception has been a part of warfare since the Trojan horse. During WWII, it became
high art. Members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops used special "weapons"
like dummy planes, tanks, antiaircraft guns, and amplified recordings that created war
sounds to fool the German high command. To enable a combat unit to change positions or
even attack when the Germans thought it hadn't moved at all, the 1800 men of the 23rd
impersonated entire divisions. They would move in at night, change insignias, and inflate
their rubber decoys. Meanwhile, the troops they were replacing sneaked away. Such
deception was a major factor in the success of the Allies' D-Day invasion, as the German
15th Army waited elsewhere for an assault that never came.
Today in the Word, November 10,
Once, when a stubborn disputer seemed unconvinced, Lincoln said, "Well, let's see
how many legs has a cow?" "Four, of course," came the reply disgustedly.
"That's right," agreed Lincoln. "Now suppose you call the cow's tail a leg;
how many legs would the cow have?" "Why, five, of course," was the
confident reply. "Now, that's where you're wrong," said Lincoln. "Calling a
cow's tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Bits & Pieces, July, 1991.
You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time,
but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.
Men can always be blind to a thing so long as it is big enough.
G. K. Chesterton.
One summer morning in the 1920s, a Scotsman names Arthur Ferguson stood idly in
London's Trafalgar Square. As he watched, an obviously well-to-do American began admiring
the statue of Admiral Lord Nelson and the column it rested on. Struck with a sudden
inspiration, Ferguson put his remarkable selling ability to work and "sold"
Nelson's column to the American for about $30,000--lions included! Not one to rest on his
laurels, Ferguson went on from there to sell the famous clock Big Ben to another American
for $5,000 and took $10,000 from yet another as down payment on Buckingham Palace. By the
time justice caught up with him, Ferguson had added the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of
Liberty to the list of his amazing "sales"! He spent several years in prison for
his remarkable deceptions.
It is reported that in the late 1860s, President Ulysses S. Grant gave a cigar to
Horace Norton, philanthropist and founder of Norton College. Because of his respect for
the President, Norton chose to keep the cigar rather than smoke it. Upon Norton's death,
the cigar passed to his son, and later it was bequeathed to his grandson. It was Norton's
grandson who in 1932 chose to light the cigar ceremoniously during an oration at Norton
College's 70th anniversary celebration. Waxing eloquent, Norton lit the famous cigar and
proceeded to extol the many virtues of Grant until...Boom! The renowned cigar exploded!
That's right- over sixty years earlier Grant had passed a loaded cigar along to a good
friend, and at long last it had made a fool of his friend's grandson!
Today in the Word,
July, 1989, p. 39.
Statistics and Stuff
It is estimated that 500,000 Americans have counterfeit diplomas or credentials.
Prokope, July-Aug, 1988.