Culture

The psychology of padding your resume with a fake anteater

Supposedly, here in the United States the unemployment rate is at less than 4%. Outstanding! It means that for certain fields and people, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a job if you are actively looking. Maybe, even if you are not actively looking. Here in California, there’s a mega-shortage of medical providers and support team members. Certainly, and sadly, there are fields for which there are dwindling jobs. Those are not the subject of this bit. Actually, no job or career fields really are.

I’m here to talk about fake anteaters. Yesterday, I received an email alert for a chief of staff position at what was formerly called AOL. The job description gave me a chuckle. They outright noted they wanted someone who got their BA at a top tier school and had strong extracurricular interests and community involvement. They also noted that they wanted someone who had rapidly progressed from job to job. Or something like that. There were some very set specifics laid out in that ad. And, you know what is likely to happen? Someone with a fake anteater is likely to apply. What to I mean?

This past week, London’s Natural History Museum announced that acclaimed photographer Marcio Cabral was being stripped of the 2017 ‘Animals in their Environment’ category of the Wildlife Photographer of the year award. Ok. First off, what a very detailed award category. Second, he was being stripped of said award because he used a fake anteater. Maybe give him the “going through the most trouble for a fake shot” award. He propped up a stuffed anteater by a tree in such a position that it seemed, at first, to be a one-in-a -million shot.

Many years ago, in the field of psychology an up and coming research psychologist was stripped of her academic position because she had completely faked her groundbreaking data set. Even the names of her research assistants were faked. It took meticulous care to fake the database, the tools, the analysis and the supposed year(s) of research meetings. Why did she do it? It was all done to gain a position at Harvard. She faked an anteater per se in order to fulfill a life long dream of teaching at Harvard for a couple of years. Where is she now that she sold her soul and got caught? No idea. Supposedly, she was banned from receiving federal research funds or serving on government advisory committees for 5 years.

Is it a quest for fame? That must be a part of the deception. Also, she was a rising star. Or had been labeled as such. Sure, people want their 15 minutes of fame. They also want to be the next It girl. The next Paltrow. The next Jennifer Lawrence whose star, after three dud movies in a row, is starting to fade fast. At least, she did her own acting. As far as I know.

But let’s now reexamine that AOL job advertisement. Everything, about that ad screams that they want a rising star. They want someone who smells of upcoming success that will make them look good. Of course, someone will fake a standing-by-the-tree anteater. And, someone out there will buy it for a minute or two. Because besides wanting to be that next rising star, the next best thing is being that person who discovers the next rising star. Everyone is bought into the system.

8 replies »

  1. Fascinating post! Since my world is dressage and competitive dressage I can attest to the fact that there are “it” girls/boys/men/ women among the riders and also “it” horses that the judges give top scores to. However they all have to do their own riding and the horse has to be a real horse and actually allow itself to be ridden through the test. But I am waiting for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon NC this September with interest. One Olympic gold medal rider has retired her Olympic partner and will most likely be appearing on a ‘new’ horse. Already they have been scoring very well in Europe and the UK. Will they be on the podium in Tryon? I think so. They are a very talented pair and also the judges will want to see a new star. I’m fine with that as long as they perform a good test as well as showing us the brilliance. So maybe no fake anteaters in the dressage world but it is an analogy I will remember. Thanks!

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  2. In school when it came to reading prescribed novels, it used to annoy me.
    (Never liked being told what to read)
    My general method was to read part of the first chapter to establish the protagonists, this was the part teachers became obsessed with. Then, straight to the
    introduction followed by any reviews which may have been highlighted.
    I guess my “Anteater” moment came through submitting fantastic made-up stories based on the small amount of actual reading done. Right place, right time and a successful “Anteater-based credit”, saw me through with flying colours.
    I guess “Fake news” is one thing but ” Anteater news” is a completely more sinister
    technique.
    Great post Mimi – always enjoy it. B

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no, no, no, there is really nothing to gain by losing your morals and dignity. Lying to get a job won’t end well, like the two cases outlined, you will eventually get caught.
    I do disagree about the Jennifer Lawrence point though, yes, her star is fading and she herself spoke about her worries that people will eventually get sick of her but if you look at her career graph, she’s more interested in roles that challenge her. They really should stop supplying her with drinks, she’s a human being not some entertainment to flaunt and reach audiences.

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