I was catching up on some of my emails and somehow one of them led me to a web site, How Stuff Works. It was just full of interesting tidbits of knowledge and trivia. Just perfect for my Thursday Top Ten list. The following information comes from their site. Why are these lies BIG? Because deceit whether it’s in the form of a lie, a hoax, a forgery can affect a lot of people, a huge ripple effect takes place.
Supposedly, the truth can set you free. But for many, deceit holds the key to money, fame, revenge or power, and these prove all too tempting. In history, this has often resulted in elaborate hoaxes.
- THE TROJAN HORSE; If all is fair in love and war, this might be the most forgivable of the big lies. When the Trojan Paris absconded with Helen, wife of the Spartan king, war exploded. It had been raging for 10 long years when the Trojans believed they had finally overcome the Greeks. Little did they know, the Greeks had another trick up their sleeves.In a stroke of genius, the Greeks built an enormous wooden horse with a hollow belly in which men could hide. After the Greeks convinced their foes that this structure was a peace offering, the Trojans happily accepted it and brought the horse within their fortified city. That night, as the Trojans slept, Greeks hidden inside snuck out the trap door. Then, they proceeded to slaughter and decisively defeat the Trojans.
- HAN van MEERGEREN: Was a painter who felt unappreciated and thought he could fool the experts into recognizing his genius. He forged a Vermeer and sold it, so he continued to create Vermeers. He sold one to a prominent Nazi and when the war ended, the Allies considered him to be a conspirator for selling a national treasure. To prove his innocence he had to paint another under observation and thus received a light sentence of one year. Unfortunately he died of a heart attack two months after his trial.
- BERNIE MADOFF: I don’t need to go into this guy too much since we all know what a lying crook he was! In 2008, he confessed to having conned about $50 billion from investors who trusted him with their savings. Madoff used the formula of a Ponzi scheme to keep up the fraud for more than a decade.This classic lie is named after the notorious Charles Ponzi, who used the ploy in the early 20th century. It works like this: A schemer promises investors great returns, but instead of investing the money, he keeps some for himself and uses the funds from new investments to pay off earlier investors.
- ANNA ANDERSON ALIAS ANASTASIA: In 1918 the Bolsheviks massacred the royal Romanov family killing Czar Nicholas II and his wife, son and four daughters. Rumors began that one of the children had escaped and soon claimants began popping up. The most notorious was Anna Anderson who upon being committed to a hospital after a suicide attempt, claims to be the daughter, Princess Anastasia. She bore a striking resemblance to the young Anastasia. Some family and acquaintances believed her to be so, most didn’t. In 1927 a woman came forth and declared Anna, (actually Franziska Schanzkowska) to have been her former roommate. Anna continued her legal proceedings to lay claim to the family fortunes but ultimately lost. Years later, upon the discovery of what proved to be the remains of the royal family, DNA tests confirmed her to be a fake. In 2009, experts were able to finally confirm that all remains have been found and that no family member escaped execution.
- WATERGATE: In the summer before President Richard Nixon‘s successful re-election to a second term, five men were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters, housed in the Watergate Hotel. As details emerged over the next year, it became clear that officials close to Nixon gave the orders to the burglars, perhaps to plant wiretaps on the phones there. The question soon became about whether Nixon knew of, covered up or even ordered the break-in. In front of 400 Associated Press editors, famously proclaimed, “I am not a crook.” He was talking about whether he had ever profited from public service, but that one quote came to represent his entire political career. It was a lie that came back to haunt him. The tapes were subpoenaed. The tapes were exactly the smoking gun needed to implicate Nixon in the cover-up of the scandal. They revealed that he obviously knew more about the matter than he claimed. Upon the initiation of impeachment proceedings, Nixon gave up and resigned from office. The scandal left a lasting scar on the American political scene and helped usher Washington outsider Jimmy Carter into the presidency a few years later.