Tuesday, March 20, 2012

People who fake their credentials...

The other day, my dear spouse told me that he had found his ex-wife on LinkedIn.  Supposedly she's been very busy over the past few years and accomplished some amazing things.  Despite having dropped out of high school and started and quit college several times, Ex apparently managed to finish her bachelor's degree and recently earned a master's degree in an education field.

While I suppose it's technically possible that she accomplished these lofty goals, my instinct tells me that she's stretching the truth and embellishing things yet again.  I think, like so many other people, my husband's former wife is full of shit.  I have many reasons for feeling the way I do.  Here's a list.

* The ex recently turned 45 years old.  She has five kids, the youngest of whom is only 5 and has special needs.  I know from personal experience that grad school is time consuming and expensive.  Even if she was in a program that didn't require a lot of coursework, in order to finish the work when she claims she did, she would have had to attend full-time.  Where would she have found the time and money?

* Knowing that she does have two kids with special needs (one of whom is my husband's adult daughter) who supposedly both need help, why would a loving mother choose to attend graduate school instead of dedicating her free time to helping her own kids?  My husband was around when his children were young.   Ex was not concerned about their daughter's special needs back then... in fact, she basically said the girl was dumb.  It wasn't until she was a teenager that we started hearing reports that she had learning disabilities.  Where was her mom in the early days, when more should and could have been done to help her?  Why wasn't mom on fire to be her own daughter's advocate when it would have counted the most?  I find it hard to believe that she only now discovered that passion in her forties, when over half of her kids are grown.  

* The ex does not have a stellar academic record.  It's not that she doesn't have the intelligence to earn degrees, though her writing skills are terrible.  It's that she has a long history of not finishing things.  She was never a star student, long on intellect and discipline.  Accomplishing two graduations in the time she claims would not fit in with her character.  Leopards don't change their spots.

* Looking at her LinkedIn account, we can see that she's already stretching the truth with the bachelor's degree.  We know from a reliable source that she was earning an "Interdisciplinary Studies" degree, which is college speak for a catch all generalist degree mostly based on life skills and a smattering of classes.  It's not a specific field of study.  And yet, if you look at her LinkedIn, she doesn't list "Interdisciplinary Studies" as her major.  She lists business, psychology, languages... are we to assume she was a triple major?  Hardly.  It's thinly disguised bullshit.  So what would stop her from fabricating a master's degree online?  Who's going to check up on her?

* She up and moved suddenly.  Seems to me, unless you are a really hot prospect in grad school that everyone's itching to hire, it doesn't make sense to up and move clear across the country when all your contacts are presumably local.  However, if you're actually faking it, it does make sense to move.  People in the state where she claims to have earned the degrees would be more likely to know her story.  People in a new state across the country might be more likely to take what she says at face value.  I have heard that to the right people, the ex can come across as very convincing and superficially charming.  Of course, if she actually got hired, it would soon be pretty obvious that her skills and knowledge are lacking.  The mask doesn't stay in place for long.

* Her skills are vague.  She's billing herself as an "advocate".  But people who are advocates usually start off doing something much more concrete.  They build up a reputation that would make people want to look to them for advocacy and guidance.  My husband's ex wife doesn't have that kind of a personal or professional history.  She does, on the other hand, have a long history of bullshitting and embellishment.

Why do people fake their credentials?  Nowadays, there are plenty of reasons.  The economy sucks and people are desperate to make a living.  Human resources workers are being bombarded with resumes and it takes time and effort to verify all those qualifications, following up with universities and references.  Besides, a lot of companies have strict policies about references, because providing an unflattering one can lead to litigation.  On the other hand, faking your qualifications can lead to significant humiliation.

Back in 2003, I remember being on a message board for Pensacola Christian College and a guy named Joel Elliott posted about how, as a journalism student at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, he discovered that the college's former president, Donald O. Young, had falsified his credentials, claiming a master's degree that he never actually earned.  Young, who was calling himself "Dr. Young" on the strength of an honorary degree the college had granted him, claimed that the "oversight" was his secretary's fault.  The story later got picked up by the New York Times and Joel went on to become an award winning freelance journalist.  "Dr. Young" ended up resigning his post in disgrace.

Elliott had once been a student at PCC, but got kicked out for being too much of a maverick.  Folks at Toccoa Falls College were also upset with him for being "unChristian" and causing so much embarrassment for their president while also casting shame on the school, which had been struggling with its finances because of low enrollment rates.  I guess I can understand them being upset about the embarrassment, but I wonder why they weren't equally upset about the man who duped them?

There have been other fakers and liars, of course.  The world is rife with them.  People lie for all kinds of reasons and some of them are never found out.  I think my husband's ex is lying, in part, because she wants to send my husband a hearty "fuck you".  We have noticed that she pops up on the Internet every once in awhile in self-promoting articles which are usually full of half-truths and outright lies.  I think she thinks we check up on her and puts these things out there in the hopes my husband might engage her.  Actually, we don't check up on the ex... my husband checks up on his daughters and that's how we find these things about the ex wife, because she is inevitably connected to them.  I used to check up on her legal records when the kids were minors, but I quit doing that a long time ago.  I'd be just as happy never to hear any of their names again, but my husband can't give up the dream that his kids will come around.  I think they eventually will, but not in the way he hopes they will.

I could be wrong about my husband's ex wife.  Maybe she did actually manage to earn those degrees.  However, even if she did earn them, I'm not sure why anyone would want to hire her over someone who had more experience, better character, and more formal education than she does for the career track she appears to be aiming for.  And even if she does legitimately have those qualifications, knowing what I know about her personality, history, and habits, I wouldn't want to let her within twenty yards of any child, let alone one with special needs.  She doesn't even seem to have her own kids' best interests at heart.  I truly do worry about innocent kids who are not related to her being exposed to her toxic brand of "help"... the kind of help that only serves to further her own agenda and bolster her own image.

I suspect that if my husband's ex wife persists in her professional level bullshit, she will eventually be found out, which will necessitate another long distance move and may actually lead to some very public humiliation.  As long as her bullshit doesn't interfere in my life, I guess it's none of my business.  It truly is scary how many liars there are out there, though.  It pays to be careful whom you hire.

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