With high blood pressure you want to have a diet low in sodium and fat, so here are the top foods you should really avoid.
Pickles are low calorie, which is great, but they are loaded with sodium. One medium pickle (about 5 inches long) can have around 570 mg of sodium. That’s over 1/3 of your sodium limit (2300 mg) for the day!
Canned Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup is often considered a comfort food, but it is not so comforting to know that there can be up to 880 mg of sodium in a one cup serving
It’s low calorie and a great way to add vegetables to a bratwurst, right? Nope. A half cup may only have about 13 calories, but it also has over 460 mg of sodium.
Fast Food French Fries
While many fast food chains are now frying their fries in trans fat free oil, not all of them are. Regardless, french fries still provide a large dose of fat and sodium. A medium serving of fries has about 19 grams of fat and 270 mg of sodium
Bacon is mostly fat. Three slices have 4.5 grams of fat and about 270 mg of sodium. Opt for lower sodium varieties and try turkey bacon instead of pork. Even with these switches bacon should remain a “special treat”, not an everyday indulgence.
Dairy is a great source of calcium, but high fat dairy sources, like whole milk, provide more fat than you need. A one cup serving of whole milk provides 8 grams of fat, 5 of which are saturated. Saturated fats are worse for you than other types and has been linked to heart disease. Try using 2% milk, or even better – 1% or skim.
Frozen Pot Pies
A single pot pie equals a serving of about 1300-1400 mg of sodium PLUS about 35 g of fat! Keep in mind that this is over 50% of your daily recommended values for both. The fat also includes trans fat, which you want to eliminate from your diet completely, and an unhealthy dose of saturated fat. Clear out your freezer!
Donuts may be popular, but they sure aren’t very good for your health and body. Just one donut packs in 200 calories with 12 grams of fat.
Ramen noodles are popular among college students, but they are not a healthy meal. One package of Ramen noodles adds 14 grams of fat to your day AND 1580 MG of sodium! Interestingly, it is actually the flavor packet that contains most of that sodium. (To the left is a look at the dry noodles before adding hot water).
Margarine is not necessarily bad, you just have to make sure to pick the kind with no trans fats. Read the label closely. It is important for your health to avoid trans fats all together.
Foods with extra calories and full of sugar cause you to gain weight. Obesity is a significant determinant for high blood pressure. The extra weight puts surplus strain on the heart and slows down the blood flow.
Alcohol consumption actively causes the blood pressure to elevate. It also damages the walls of the blood vessels, while simultaneously increases risks of further complications.
A healthy eating plan should include only a small amount (if any) of saturated or trans-fats. Fatty foods are bad for both the heart and blood vessels. Avoid red meat and fast food along with other fats that include hydrogenated oils.
Too much sodium does direct damage to the heart and arteries and raises blood pressure significantly.
Drink plenty of water.
Water is important for good health. Getting enough fluids (especially water) can help prevent uric acid buildup in your joints, which causes gout. The amount of water you need each day depends on several factors, including your overall health and activity level, and the climate where you live.
Limit alcohol consumption.
While getting enough fluids can help prevent gout, the condition is very common in people who drink too much alcohol. People who are prone to attacks of gout often are advised to avoid alcohol entirely.
Regular exercise not only promotes good overall health and reduces your risk for many diseases, but also helps to prevent gout. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program and if painful joints are making physical activity difficult.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Good nutrition also plays an important role in gout prevention. However, if you’re trying to shed some pounds, do so sensibly. Losing weight too quickly increases the risk for uric acid kidney stones, which can cause severe pain in your back or side, blood in the urine, fever and chills, and burning during urination.
Avoid creamy sauces, rich gravies and high-fat foods.
Make healthy substitutions in your favorite sauce recipes. When possible, use low-fat broths, reduced-fat dairy products and egg whites instead of butter, cream and whole eggs. Limit foods that are high in fat, such as ice cream.
Eat purine-rich foods only in moderation.
Foods associated with an increased risk for gout include:
- Red meat
- Scallops, anchovies, sardines and herring
- Organ meats like liver, kidney and sweetbreads
- Dried beans and peas
- Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus and cauliflower
Reduce your consumption of these foods.
See your doctor regularly.
Men between the ages of 40 and 50 are at higher risk for gout. Your physician can identify the swelling, inflammation, stiffness and pain associated with the condition. Gout diagnosis may involve blood tests, urine tests, joint fluid tests and x-rays.
They might be six feet under, but a good epitaph means they’ll never be forgotten. Some of the wittiest and most famous people who lived here on Earth left an equally memorable message on their tombstones to remember them by when they died. Many offer inside jokes and punchy observations about life and death; some don’t contain words at all. Some of these epitaphs are momentous and others are hilarious — but all of them are near perfect representations of the persons buried beneath them.
From Frank Sinatra to Winston Churchill to Jesse James, here lie 20 of our favorite gravestone inscriptions.
20: John Yeast: “Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising.”
One of Yeast’s loved ones evidently took advantage of his unusual last name to bring us this memorable epitaph. The pun should get a rise out of anyone who visits Yeast’s gravesite in a Ruidoso, N. M. cemetery. History hasn’t recorded the date or cause of John Yeast’s death, or even his profession. We can only hope that he was a baker.
19: Spike Milligan: “Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite.”
The Gaelic epitaph for this Irish comedian translates to, “I told you I was ill.” Milligan, who died of liver failure in 2002 at age 83, was famous for his irreverent humor showcased on TV and in films such as “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” His gravestone, which lies at St Thomas Church in Winchelsea, East Sussex, stood bare for some time while his family argued over which phrase best would encapsulate the comedian’s career. When they finally came to an agreement, the church insisted that the phrase be written in Gaelic. Though Milligan may have had the last laugh, non-Gaelic-speaking visitors won’t get the joke.
18: Jesse James: “Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”
In the Wild West, Jesse James was legendary — a Robin Hood-like figure who the public loved and lawmakers hated. The outlaw’s notorious bank robbing spree led to a $10,000 reward for his capture. Brothers Bob and Charley Ford, members of James’ own gang, decided to cash in on that reward. On April 3, 1882, while an unarmed Jesse James stood on a chair in his home fixing a picture on the wall, Bob shot him in the back of the head. James was just 34 years old when he died. Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden pardoned the Ford brothers for their crime, but the public saw them as cowards. So did James’ mother, Zerelda, who chose the inscription on his tombstone.
17: Ludolph van Ceulen: “3.14159265358979323846264338327950”
Math students will recognize the number on Dutch mathematician Ludolph van Ceulen’s grave as pi — the mathematical constant used to calculate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Van Ceulen, who died from unknown causes in 1610 at age 70, was the first to calculate the value of pi to 35 digits. He was so proud of this achievement that he asked that the number be engraved on his tombstone. Since Van Ceulen’s death, pi’s value has multiplied exponentially. In 2002, a team of mathematicians at the University of Tokyo took pi to its longest calculation to date — 1.2 billion numbers. Just try fitting that on their tombstones.
16: Jack Lemmon. “Jack Lemmon in…”
How fitting that the star of “Some Like It Hot,” “The Odd Couple,” and “Grumpy Old Men” would simultaneously make us laugh, and remind us of the film legacy he left behind with this memorable epitaph. Lemmon started life on his way down — he was actually born in a descending elevator — but he went straight up from there. He starred in dozens of movies during his 50-year career, receiving two Oscars and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his work. Even after Lemmon died of bladder cancer in 2001 at age 76, he was surrounded by Hollywood’s finest. Among his “neighbors” at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles are actress Natalie Wood, comedian Rodney Dangerfield, and “Some Like it Hot” writer Billy Wilder.
15: Studs Terkel: “Curiosity did not kill this cat.”
Curiosity certainly didn’t kill Studs Terkel. In fact, it defined the career of this Pulitzer-prize winning author and radio host. Terkel, who was born Louis (he took his nickname from the fictional character Studs Lonigan), spent much of his life interviewing average Americans. Using a technique he called “guerilla journalism,” he gathered hours and hours of conversations, weaving together a vibrant oral history of America. Terkel announced his own epitaph years before his 2008 death at age 96. In the postscript to his memoir, “Touch and Go,” he called curiosity the attribute that “has kept me going.”
14: Bette Davis: “She did it the hard way.”
This wide-eyed actress, who was born Ruth Elizabeth Davis in 1908, was best known for her unforgettable roles in films like “Jezebel”and “All About Eve.” But the unconventional-looking Davis had to fight hard for success in a film industry that favored traditional beauties. Davis had to fight to get a contract with Warner Brothers, and once she was under contract, she had to fight the studio for the kind of roles she wanted. But eventually, Davis did earn acceptance — and finally praise from Hollywood, earning two Oscars and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. The inscription that graces her tombstone at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills was originally suggested by Joe Mankiewicz, who wrote and directed her in “All About Eve.” Bette Davis died of breast cancer in 1989.
13: From a Maryland cemetery: “Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.”
This epitaph comes from a cemetery in Thurmont, Md., and it’s made many lists of top humorous tombstone quotes (along with, “I told you I was sick,” from a Florida cemetery). When author C.S. Lewis was told about the inscription, he reportedly replied, “I bet he wishes that were so” . It’s unclear who the atheist in question was (the headstone bears no name) or whether his assumption about the afterlife (or lack thereof) was accurate.
12: George Johnson: “Here lies George Johnson, hanged by mistake 1882. He was right, we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.”
George Johnson wasn’t famous in life. In fact, his only claim to fame was this apologetic epitaph. Johnson bought a stolen horse in good faith but the court didn’t buy his story and sentenced him to hang. They realized their mistake, but by then it was too late for Johnson. His final resting place is Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Ariz., which is also “home” to many notorious characters of the Wild West, including Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers, who died during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
11: Joan Hackett: “Go away — I’m asleep.”
Eccentric actress Joan Hackett started her career on Broadway, and then became a regular on TV throughout the 1960s and 1970s, appearing on popular shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Bonanza.” Hackett became known almost as much for stubbornness as for her acting. She drove directors nuts with her demands, which included a full 10 to 12 hours of sleep for her to perform at her best. While she was resting she didn’t want to be disturbed, so she used to hang a note on her door that read, “Go away — I’m asleep.” In 1983, when she died of ovarian cancer at age 49, the same words graced her gravestone, providing Hackett some much-needed peace and quiet during her eternal slumber.
10: Emily Dickinson: “Called back.”
“Called back” may seem like too pithy a final statement from a poet who was well known for her way with words. Yet these words have a special significance. In 1885, while she was bedridden with liver disease, Dickinson sent a note to her cousins bearing this short phrase. Dickinson was likely foreshadowing her own death, which would come on May 15, 1886. Over her lifetime, Dickinson wrote almost 2,000 poems, many of which addressed the subject of dying. Her famous line, “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me” would have made another fitting epitaph.
9: Lester Moore: “Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a 44, no Les, no more.”
The birth date of this Wells Fargo agent is not recorded, but the cause of his death, in 1880, couldn’t be clearer. The .44-caliber in question belonged to a customer named Frank Dunston, who was reportedly angry over a package that arrived late — and damaged. Dunston was so angry he shot Moore. Before Moore hit the floor, he fired off a shot that killed Dunston, but it was already too late for him. Moore was laid to rest at Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Ariz., where he shares ground with several gunslingers who also met with a violent end, including three men who were killed during the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
8: Hank Williams: “I’ll never get out of this world alive.”
Country music legend Hank Williams recorded 66 songs during his brief career — and a whopping 37 of them topped the music charts. Tunes like “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Honky Tonk Blues” have remained alive long after their singer, recorded and re-recorded by new generations of country musicians. Williams died in the back seat of his blue Cadillac convertible on New Year’s Eve, 1953 while on the way to a performance. The cause of death remains unclear to this day. He was just 29 years old. Williams’ gravestone in Montgomery, Ala.’s Oakwood Cemetery Annex is inscribed with several of his song titles, including this one, which shot straight to number one after his death.
7: Dee Dee Ramone: “OK…I gotta go now.”
Dee Dee Ramone is best known for helping to launch one of the most influential punk bands in history–the Ramones. After leaving the band in 1989, he went on to have a successful solo career, and even wrote a few books. Just a few months before Ramone’s 2002 death of a drug overdose at age 49, the band was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech, Ramone expressed his unique sense of humor by saying, “I’d like to congratulate myself and thank myself and give myself a pat on the back” . His epitaph, likely a reference to the Ramones hit, “Blitzkrieg Bop,” proved he was witty to the end. Dee Dee was buried near guitarist Johnny Ramone at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles (their headstones list their real names, Douglas Colvin and John Cummings).
6: Frank Sinatra: “The best is yet to come.”
The Chairman of the Board’s optimistic epitaph comes from his 1964 hit of the same name. Though he lived life his way, a heart attack ultimately did the celebrated crooner in on May 14, 1998 at age 82. The 700 guests in attendance at his funeral, which included actors, musicians, and political figures such as Tony Bennett, Ed McMahon, Gregory Peck, Don Rickles, and Nancy Reagan, confirmed Sinatra’s status as music royalty. Actor Kirk Douglas predicted that with Sinatra’s arrival, “Heaven will never be the same” . Though he was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, Sinatra was buried (along with a pack of Camel cigarettes, a Zippo lighter and a bottle of Jack Daniels) in the city he’d come to call home — Palm Springs, Calif. — which had named a street in his honor.
5: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last.”
When civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered these immortal words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, he created a landmark moment in the fight for civil rights. Sadly, Dr. King would never live to see the full realization of his “I Have a Dream” speech. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. Eighty thousand mourners attended his funeral, which was held at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Atlanta church where he’d once preached. Today, King is buried at the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, his gravestone inscribed with those famous words, which he’d borrowed from a spiritual of the same name.
4: Rodney Dangerfield: “There goes the neighborhood.”
This self-deprecating gravestone humor shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that the comedian who is buried beneath it was well known for complaining, “I don’t get no respect.” Dangerfield (who was born Jacob Cohen) first joined the comic circuit while performing at resorts in New York’s Catskill Mountains. He’s probably best known for movies like “Caddyshack”and “Back to School,” and for lines like, “When I was born, I was so ugly that the doctor slapped my mother.” After delivering thousands of one-liners, Dangerfield died in 2004 at age 82, from complications following heart surgery. In the end, he did get respect. Fans covered his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with flowers, and fellow comedian Adam Sandler called him, “a hero who lived up to the hype” .
3: Mel Blanc: “That’s all folks!”
Who hasn’t heard of the “Man of a Thousand Voices?” When Mel Blanc died of heart disease and emphysema in 1989 at age 81, 20 million people listened to his voice daily — though he was such a vocal chameleon they may not have even realized it was him. During his career with Warner Brothers, this versatile voice actor created some of the most famous cartoon characters in television history, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Woody Woodpecker, and Sylvester the Cat. It was Blanc who gave Bugs Bunny his catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?” And viewers always knew they’d reached the end of the cartoon when they heard his Porky Pig say, “That’s all folks!” When Blanc was buried in the Hollywood Forever cemetery, he made this closing line his own final farewell.
2: John Belushi: “He could have given us a few more laughs, but nooooo.”
Belushi was at the top of his career in 1982 when he was found dead of a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. At just 33 years old, he was already one of the top comic actors in the country. He was an original cast member on the late-night NBC show, “Saturday Night Live” (where he perfected the phrase, “But nooo” that inspired his epitaph) and he starred in the hit movie “Animal House.” Belushi is buried at Abel’s Hill, a cemetery on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. Dan Aykroyd, his co-star in “The Blues Brothers,” served as one of his pallbearers. Ultimately Belushi’s gravesite was trampled by so many ardent fans that in 1985, his family finally moved him to a quieter spot a few spaces over. By then, his wooden casket had already rotted through and the always-unpredictable Belushi tumbled right out.
1: Winston Churchill: “I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
Aside from leading England through World War II, this two-time British Prime Minister was probably best known for his wit — which is clearly displayed in this epitaph. Churchill first uttered this quip on his 75th birthday, when a reporter asked him if he was afraid of dying (which he obviously was not). When Churchill did die of a stroke, on January 24, 1965 at the age of 90, the words were permanently inscribed on his gravestone at St. Martin’s Church, Bladon in Oxfordshire. Apparently he was ready to go, as his last words reportedly were, “I’m so bored with it all.”
by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.
A pangram, or holoalphabetic sentence, includes every letter of the alphabet at least once. The most challenging pangrams are the ones with the fewest letters. Here are a few of the best.1. Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex. (28 letters)
2. Quick zephyrs blow, vexing daft Jim. (29 letters)
3. Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow. (29 letters)
4. Two driven jocks help fax my big quiz. (30 letters)
5. Five quacking zephyrs jolt my wax bed. (31 letters)
6. The five boxing wizards jump quickly. (31 letters)
7. Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs. (32 letters)
8. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (35 letters)
9. Jinxed wizards pluck ivy from the big quilt. (36 letters)
10. Crazy Fredrick bought many very exquisite opal jewels. (46 letters)
11. We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize. (50 letters)
12. A mad boxer shot a quick, gloved jab to the jaw of his dizzy opponent. (54 letters)
13. Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward. (55 letters)
14. The job requires extra pluck and zeal from every young wage earner. (55 letters)
Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen
Palindromes are words or sentences that read the same backward or forward. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Go hang a salami. I’m a lasagna hog.
2. Do geese see God?
3. Was it Eliot’s toilet I saw?
4. Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
5. A nut for a jar of tuna.
6. Dennis and Edna sinned.
7. Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
8. A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!
9. Ana, nab a banana.
10. Borrow or rob?
11. Vanna, wanna V?
12. We panic in a pew.
13. Never odd or even.
14. Madam in Eden, I’m Adam.
15. Murder for a jar of red rum.
Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen
An oxymoron is a combination of words that contradict each other. Here are some of our favorites.
1. virtual reality
2. original copy
3. old news
4. act naturally
5. pretty ugly
6. living dead
7. jumbo shrimp
8. rolling stop
9. constant variable
10. exact estimate
11. paid volunteers
12. civil war
13. sound of silence
14. clever fool
15. only choice
Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen
by Jane McGrath
According to myth, a young George Washington confessed to cutting down a cherry tree by proclaiming, “I cannot tell a lie.” The story is testament to how much respect Americans have for their cherished first president and honesty in general. Unfortunately, in the annals of history it seems there are 10 dishonest scoundrels for every honorable hero like Washington.
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, perjuries, and forgeries that had enormous ripple effects.
In the following pages, we’ll go over some of the most colossal and significant lies in history. Although such a list can’t be comprehensive, we sought to include a variety of lies that influenced politics, science and even art. As a result of these, lives were lost, life-savings destroyed, legitimate research hampered and — most of all — faith in our fellow man shattered.
Without further ado, let’s delve into one of the oldest and most successful lies on record.
10. 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.
This was unquestionably one of the biggest and most successful tricks known to history — that is, if it’s true. Homer mentions the occurrence in “The Iliad,” and Virgil extrapolates the story in “The Aeneid.” Evidence suggests that Troy itself existed, giving some validity to Homer’s tales, and scholars have long been investigating how historically accurate these details are. One theory behind the Trojan horse comes from historian Michael Wood, who proposes that it was merely a battering ram in the shape of a horse that infiltrated the city .
In any case, the story has won a permanent place in the Western imagination as a warning to beware of enemies bearing gifts.
9. Han van Meegeren’s Vermeer Forgeries
This lie resulted from a classic case of wanting to please the critics. Han van Meegeren was an artist who felt underappreciated and thought he could trick art experts into admitting his genius.
In the early 20th century, scholars were squabbling about whether the great Vermeer had painted a series of works depicting biblical scenes. Van Meegeren pounced on this opportunity and set to work carefully forging one such disputed work, “The Disciples at Emmaus.” With tireless attention to detail, he faked the cracks and aged hardness of a centuries-old painting. He intentionally played on the confirmation bias of critics who wanted to believe that Vermeer painted these scenes. It worked: Experts hailed the painting as authentic, and van Meegeren made out like a bandit producing and selling more fake Vermeers. Greed apparently overcame his desire for praise, as he decided not to out himself.
However, van Meegeren, who was working in the 1930s and ’40s, made one major mistake. He sold a painting to a prominent member of the Nazi party in Germany. After the war, Allies considered him a conspirator for selling a “national treasure” to the enemy . In a curious change of events, van Meegeren had to paint for his freedom. In order to help prove that the painting was no national treasure, he forged another in the presence of authorities.
When Bernie Madoff admitted that his investment firm was “just one big lie,” it was an understatement . 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.
Madoff may not have invented this lie, but he took it to new lengths. For one, he made a record amount of money from the scheme. But he was also able to keep it going much longer than most Ponzi schemers. Usually, the scam falls apart quickly because it requires the schemer to constantly find more and more investors. It was also an especially shocking lie because Madoff, as a former chairman of NASDAQ, had been an accomplished and respected expert in the financial field. Compare this to Chares Ponzi, who was a petty ex-con by the time he launched his scheme.
7. Anna Anderson, Alias Anastasia
With the onslaught of the Russian Revolution, the existence of a royal family was intolerable to the Bolsheviks. In 1918, they massacred the royal Romanov family — Czar Nicholas II, his wife, son and four daughters — to ensure that no legitimate heir could later resurface and rally the public for support.
Soon, rumors floated around that certain members of the royal family had escaped and survived. As one might expect, claimants came out of the woodwork. “Anna Anderson” was the most famous. In 1920, Anderson was admitted to a hospital after attempting suicide and confessed that she was Princess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the royal family. She stood out from other claimants because she held a certain resemblance to and surprising knowledge of the Russian family and life at court.
Although a few relatives and acquaintances who’d known Anastasia believed Anderson, most didn’t. By 1927, an alleged former roommate of Anderson claimed that her name was Franziska Schanzkowska, not Anna and certainly not Anastasia . This didn’t stop Anderson from indulging in celebrity and attempting to cash in on a royal inheritance. She ultimately lost her case in the legal proceedings that dragged on for decades, but she stuck to her story until her death in 1984. 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 in 1918 .
6. Titus Oates and the Plot to Kill Charles II
By the time he fabricated his notorious plot, Titus Oates already had a history of deception and general knavery. He’d been expelled from some of England’s finest schools as well as the navy. Oates was even convicted of perjury and escaped imprisonment. But his biggest lie was still ahead of him.
Raised Protestant by an Anabaptist preacher, Oates entered Cambridge as a young man to study for Anglican orders. After misconduct got him dismissed from his Anglican post, he started associating with Catholic circles and feigned conversion . With the encouragement of fellow anti-Catholic Israel Tonge, Oates infiltrated enemy territory by entering a Catholic seminary. In fact, he entered two seminaries — both of which expelled him. But it hardly mattered. By this time, he had gathered enough inside information and names to wreak enormous havoc.
In 1678, Oates concocted and pretended to uncover a plot in which the Jesuits were planning to murder King Charles II. The idea was that they wanted to replace Charles with his Catholic brother, James. What ensued was a three-year panic that fueled anti-Catholic sentiment and resulted in the executions of about 35 people .
After Charles died in 1685, James became king and had Oates tried for perjury. Oates was convicted, pilloried and imprisoned. He only spent a few years in jail, however, as the Glorious Revolution swept through England in 1688. Without James in power, Oates got off with a pardon and a pension.
5. Piltdown Man
After Charles Darwin published his revolutionary “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, scientists scrambled to find fossil evidence of extinct human ancestors. They sought these so-called “missing links” to fill in the gaps on the timeline of human evolution. When archaeologist Charles Dawson unearthed what he thought was a missing link in 1910, what he really found was one of the biggest hoaxes in history.
The discovery was the Piltdown man, pieces of a skull and jaw with molars located in the Piltdown quarry in Sussex, England. Dawson brought his discovery to prominent paleontologist Arthur Smith Woodward, who touted its authenticity to his dying day.
Although the discovery gained world renown, the lie behind Piltdown man slowly and steadily unraveled. In the ensuing decades, other major discoveries suggested Piltdown man didn’t fit in the story of human evolution. By the 1950s, tests revealed that the skull was only 600 years old and the jaw came from an orangutan. Some knowledgeable person apparently manipulated these pieces, including filing down and staining the teeth.
The scientific world had been duped. So who was behind the fraud? Many suspects have surfaced, including Dawson himself. Today, most signs point to Martin A. C. Hinton, a museum volunteer at the time of the discovery. A trunk bearing his initials contained bones that were stained in exactly the same way the Piltdown fossils were. Perhaps he was out to embarrass his boss, Arthur Smith Woodward, who refused to give him a weekly salary.
4. The Dreyfus Affair
Like the conspiracy invented by Titus Oates, this scandal was built on a lie that dramatically affected national politics and was perpetuated for years by hatred. Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French Army in the late 19th century when he was accused of a treasonous crime: selling military secrets to Germany.
After his highly publicized trial, authorities sentenced him to life imprisonment on Devils Island, and anti-Semitic groups used him as an example of unpatriotic Jews. However, suspicions arose that the incriminating letters were in fact forged and that a Maj. Esterhazy was the real culprit. When French authorities suppressed these accusations, the novelist Emile Zola stepped up to accuse the army of a vast cover-up.
The scandal exploded into a fight between so-called Dreyfusards, who wanted to see the case reopened, and anti-Dreyfusards, who didn’t. On both sides, the debate became less about Dreyfus’ innocence and more about the principle. During the dramatic 12-year controversy, many violent anti-Semitic riots broke out and political allegiances shifted as Dreyfusards called for reform.
After Maj. Hubert Joseph Henry admitted to forging key documents and committed suicide, a newly elected Cabinet finally reopened the case. The court found Dreyfus guilty again; however, he soon received a pardon from the president. A few years later, a civilian court of appeals found Dreyfus innocent, and he went on to have a distinguished army career and fought with honor in World War I. Meanwhile, the scandal had changed the face of politics in France.
3. Clinton/Lewinsky Affair
In January 1998, citizen journalist Matt Drudge reported a sensational story that turned out to be true. The president of the United States, Bill Clinton, had an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. As suspicions mounted, Clinton publicly denied the allegations. As if this lie weren’t big enough, it turned out that Clinton had lied under oath about the affair as well — which was perjury and grounds for impeachment.
Here’s how the truth came out. Paula Jones was an Arkansas state employee when then-governor Clinton allegedly propositioned her. She later sued him for sexual harassment. In an effort to prove that Clinton had a pattern of such behavior, lawyers set out to expose his sexual affairs. They found Linda Tripp, a former White House secretary and confidant of Lewinsky. Tripp recorded telephone conversations in which Lewinsky talked of her affair with Clinton. Lawyers then probed Clinton with specific questions and cornered him into denying the affair under oath.
During the highly publicized scandal, prosecutor Kenneth Starr subpoenaed Clinton, who finally admitted to the relationship. Based on Starr’s report, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton for not only perjury but obstruction of justice. Despite the scandal, Clinton maintained relatively high approval ratings from the American public, and the Senate acquitted him of the charges. However, in the eyes of many Americans, his legacy remained tarnished.
Two decades before the Clinton scandal, another U.S. president was caught in a web of lies, and the controversy had devastating effects on the country as a whole.
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 response to mounting suspicions, Nixon denied allegations that he knew anything and proclaimed, “I am not a crook.” This lie came back to haunt him. When it was revealed that private White House conversations about the matter were recorded, the investigative committee subpoenaed the tapes. Nixon’s refusal on the basis of “executive privilege” brought the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that he had to relinquish the tapes.
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.
1. The Big Lie: Nazi Propaganda
By the time Nazism arose in Germany in the 1930s, anti-Semitism was nothing new — not by a long shot. The Jewish people had suffered a long history of prejudice and persecution. And although Nazis perpetuated centuries-old lies, this time those lies would have their most devastating effects. Like never before, anti-Semitism was manifested in a sweeping national policy known as “the Final Solution,” which sought to eliminate Jews from the face of the Earth.
To accomplish this, Adolf Hitler and his minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, launched a massive campaign to convince the German people that the Jews were their enemies. Having taken over the press, they spread lies blaming Jews for all of Germany’s problems, including the loss of World War I. One outrageous lie dating back to the Middle Ages claimed that Jews engaged in the ritual killings of Christian children and used their blood in the unleavened bread eaten at Passover .
Using Jews as the scapegoat, Hitler and his cronies orchestrated what they called “the big lie.” This theory states that no matter how big the lie is (or more precisely, because it’s so big), people will believe it if you repeat it enough. Everyone tells small lies, Hitler reasoned, but few have the guts to tell colossal lies . Because a big lie is so unlikely, people will come to accept it.
This theory helps us understand so many of the lies throughout history. Although we’ve barely scratched the surface of all those lies that deserve (dis)honorable mentions, you can satiate your historical curiosity by browsing the lists on the next page.