Fabulist Who Fooled Most of Harvard Stuns Bloggers

Is anyone actually checking those applications?

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It's New York Times wedding pages meets tabloids: Adam Wheeler, a tale-spinning student who managed to lie his way through Harvard and part of a Rhodes scholarship application, has the blogosphere equally delighted and horrified. Tuesday's Boston Globe story detailed Wheeler's stunts, which included faked resumes, recommendations, SAT scores, transcripts, plagiarized papers, and more. He managed to win grant money and prizes until English professor James Simpson, reviewing Wheeler's Rhodes scholarship essays in his senior year, smelled a rat. Now, Wheeler's fakery exposed as he faces criminal charges, the media scavengers are on the prowl.

  • 'Brilliant, Lying, Ivy League Manipulators,' writes Gawker's Maureen O'Connor, linking to stories of alleged plagiarist and Harvard alum Kaavya Viswanathan and Wheeler-like Yale imposter Akash Maharaj. "Is there an alumni club for that?" She later adds an update in which she reviews some of  the details of his "farcically packed resume."
  • That Resume  The one everyone's talking about was posted by The New Republic, where Wheeler applied for an internship. "We did not accept him," reads the statement. " Click here for a PDF of his rather remarkable two-page resume, in which he claims that (a) he's contracted to write several books; (b) he can speak French, Old English, Classical Armenian, and Old Persian; and (c) he's in demand on the lecture circuit."
  • Lessons  "Obviously, everyone should start lying on their college applications now," writes a tongue-in-cheek Chris Rovzar at New York Magazine, since no one appears to be checking the claims. Some other takeaways include that fantastical liars should try to "know [their] limits," and that, clearly, "realizing you are about to graduate with a useless English degree can make you do pretty desperate things"--like "become a blogger," Rovzar adds.
  • Too Many Lies in One Day  Jerry Lanson, Emerson College journalism professor, overwhelmed by the twin headlines of the Wheeler case and the Blumenthal war record debacle wonders at True/Slant whether "we live in a growing culture of lies."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.