Open Thread: On the Internet, Nobody Knows Your Pathology

So, Gawker presents six theories on “How Manti Te’o Got Catfished by A Dead Girl“, and a commentor offers one more:

I HAVEN’T SEEN ONE PERSON STATE THE CLEAREST MOTIVATION BEHIND THE WHOLE THING. Ronaiah Tuiasasopo is a huge USC fan. His father (Titus) played at USC. Other relatives played at USC. There is no bigger traditional rival of USC football than Notre Dame. Period. (Not UCLA or anybody else). Manti Te’o was supposed to go to USC. When he went to Notre Dame it would have been a huge betrayal to the Southern Cal Samoan boosters. The hoax was a punishment for choosing Notre Dame over USC. Why haven’t I seen this mentioned? Not even Notre Dame boosters/students. USC punked Notre Dame’s star player.

Since I don’t know football, I can’t judge the plausibility, but there it is.

And I’m going to take the opportunity to recommend Cienna Madrid’s excellent, terrifying story about a cancer survivor and “The Lying Disease“. You should go read the whole thing, because it’s not a very “tease”-able whole, but here’s an impersonal chunk from the middle:

Since Munchausen syndrome by internet isn’t in the DSM-IV, the best way to detect it is to know the signs, says Dr. Feldman.

Like other forms of the disorder, Feldman explains that Munchausen by internet usually manifests in the late teens or early 20s. It’s often preempted or accompanied by other psychological issues, most commonly personality disorders. And it predominantly affects women. “I’m not clear on all the reasons for that, but it’s a pretty consistent finding,” Feldman explains. “And many of them have medical or nursing training… Their fascination with medical issues is expressed in their career choices.”

The lies escalate slowly, which makes them harder to detect. Someone might sound like a walking textbook when talking about their symptoms, or they may be quick to duplicate the symptoms of other people around them. The lies are intricate, detailed, engrossing. Terrible setbacks are followed by miraculous recoveries. And if someone else becomes the center of attention, their condition will dramatically worsen or they will become the victim of a sudden tragic event…

The lies slowly escalate, pile up, and create an improbable whole. Then one day, you realize you’re friends with a 15-year-old chronic migraine sufferer online who also happens to be a fourth-year medical school student who plays drums in a band at night—despite those crippling migraines—to pay his med school tuition because his deaf mother and alcoholic stepfather have no interest in his baby-genius education. Oh, and since he’s not yet old enough to drive, he skateboards three miles a day to get to class.

And on that day, you feel like a total schmuck…

Don’t know who started the “Lennay Kekua” hoax, or why it spiraled as far out of their control as it did. But, all the jokes & guesses aside, the way well-meaning people get victimized by “catfishing” is far more mundane & pervasive than some would-be hipster documentarians manipulating “sad internet liars” on MTV. Welcome to the Pixelverse, suckers and wiseguys!

106 replies
  1. 1
    AbidingJeff says:

    If you haven’t seen this, I had never heard before that the 2nd amendment had a lot to do with the police state necessary for slavery in the south.

  2. 2
    NotMax says:

    You mean everything on the internet isn’t totally truthful?

    Golly gee willikers, Mr. Wizard, say it ain’t so.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    I, uh, I used to have a girlfriend. She lives in MD and works in DC.

  4. 4
    the Conster says:

    I know that was all written in English, my native tongue, but I don’t completely understand it. I know American Samoa is American, but I don’t speak Samoan, college football, or enough internet to understand the brouhaha. Can we talk about The Matrix again?

  5. 5
    gbear says:

    I am lying right now.

  6. 6
    Jade Jordan says:

    While I suspect that Manti or the ND PR department created this hoax. I’ll wait for the investigative journalist or Anonymous to leak the Notre Dame report.

    Phone records and IP Addresses are key in pinning the tail on the donkey.

  7. 7
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Read Deadspin’s tweet response to Donald Trump on the Manti Te’o story.


  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jade Jordan:

    While I suspect that Manti or the ND PR department created this hoax.


  9. 9
    Corner Stone says:

    @NotMax: “Bonjour”

  10. 10
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I may be either dead or alive.

  11. 11
    Cacti says:

    During the national championship game, I thought Manti Te’o was whiffing on a lot of tackles.

    But he was really just hugging his imaginary girlfriend.


  12. 12
    Joel says:

    USC punked Notre Dame’s star player.

    I don’t follow minor league football, but I figured this is what the Yankees did when Ramiro Mendoza signed with the Red Sox.

  13. 13

    @PsiFighter37: I have mixed feelings about the gawker empire, but that was indeed awesome.

  14. 14
    Corner Stone says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I think if we take your nym to heart then we must conclude you are neither dead nor alive.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    All right, I’ll admit it and finally come clean. I’m not actually a middle-aged secretary living in Southern California with three cats.

    I’m actually Maru.

    I’m sorry for lying to you all, but I just wanted to fit in.

  16. 16
    redshirt says:

    @the Conster: What if I told you reality was just an interpretation of your brain? Blue pill or red pill, it’s the same truth.

  17. 17
    Cacti says:

    I remember when I used to hang out with Manti and Lennay. It was after I’d finished writing War and Peace, but just before my Nobel Prize and porn star career.

  18. 18
    Ted & Hellen says:


    Wonder if any of this goes on at BJ.

  19. 19
    NotMax says:

    @Cornet Stone


  20. 20
    Liberty60 says:

    @Ted & Hellen: We’ve never seen John Cole and Tunch together in the same pic, have we?

  21. 21
    scav says:

    @Cacti: A Cacti in Porn? That should be enough to identify the sub-genre, no?

  22. 22
    Brent says:

    USC punked Notre Dame’s star player.

    Fine theory except that it doesn’t at all explain why Manti Te’o himself was obviously stating many things about his girlfriend which we now know, he would have known were untrue.

  23. 23
    Suffern ACE says:

    I’m truthful for the most part. But I don’t often reveal anything about myself. It is true, I do work for an accounting firm, I do conduct market research. I’m just taller than I’ve led you to believe. It’s not so much lying as it is deceptive. If I’ve hurt anyone by that omission, I apologize.

  24. 24
    the Conster says:


    Far out.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @ranchandsyrup: There’s no better way of accepting a compliment from a turdblossom.

  27. 27
    eemom says:

    I just don’t get what the big deal is. I mean that other fball player Tebow was always talking to some sky-guy that doesn’t exist and that’s while he was right on the field.


  28. 28

    @PsiFighter37: Plus trump omitted one of the authorsIOC the te’o piece in his compliment.

  29. 29
    Suffern ACE says:

    @eemom: look. He used this poor young woman’s fake death to raise 3,000 for leukemia research. All those people who gave money to a worthy cause should be pissed as hell right now.

  30. 30
    bluehill says:

    @Brent: I agree. The catfish angle assumes that the guy wasn’t lying. I find it hard to believe that when she was in the hospital after the accident and then with leukemia, he didn’t visit her once. Other comments he and his family have made also don’t add up.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Corner Stone:

    To help keep Notre Dame football front and center in the minds of the Sports Villagers.

    And it worked. They fell all over this story. The couldn’t stop themselves from falling for it hook, line, and sinker. Because one of the sports writer traditions is to cheer on Old Notre Dame, the first “America’s Team” of football.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Given that Trump is the poster twit for the great late 20th/early 21st Century ethics free personalities, famous for being famous, constantly ripping off his creditors who keep coming back for more, one of the most vulgar and despicable “celebrites” our vapid MSM has embraced.

  33. 33

    Guys have been Te’o-ing since hands were invented.

  34. 34
    nellcote says:

    POLITICO ‏@politico
    BREAKING: President Obama’s remaining campaign apparatus will relaunch Sunday as a tax-exempt group to support his second-term agenda.

  35. 35
    hitchhiker says:

    Oh, it’s a creepy pixel world all right.

    I sometimes hang out at a message board for people who deal with the unmitigated bullshit that is known as spinal cord injury. (My spouse has one at c6.)

    And every so often we-the-community discover that someone who’s been posting for months is actually a devo, which is our term for a person who gets off on pretending to be paralyzed so they can talk to people who actually are . . . hopefully about the details of their bathroom routines.

    I wish I were making that up.

  36. 36
    Johny Gentle (famous crooner) says:

    He didn’t get catfished, at least not fully. In the best-case scenario, Te’o willfully exaggerated and perpetuated the story for his own benefit (publicity, sympathy, Heisman votes, etc.). At worst, he was in on it from the get-go, which is entirely possible given that the guy behind the fake-girlfriend was a friend of his.

  37. 37
    Suffern ACE says:

    @nellcote: hope that works. Last time he handed it over to the national party and it lay dormant.

  38. 38
    BGinCHI says:

    Finally I understand why the Cubs will never win the World Series.

  39. 39
    the Conster says:


    OMG, WTF? Ugh.

  40. 40
    dollared says:

    @eemom: You win today.

  41. 41
    Suffern ACE says:

    Lazaro Arbos better actually have a stutter. I don’t know if I can handle another to good to be true story this week.

  42. 42
    Punchy says:

    @bluehill: THIS. She nearly dies in an accident, then lies on a sick bed from cancer, and neither time he goes to visit who he claimed was the love of his life? Unpossible, even for an introvert. And all those times he claimed to have met her? Are we supposed to just ignore those…uh…lies?

  43. 43
    phantomist says:

    Mormon me once, shame on you; Mormon me twice, shame on me.

  44. 44
    The Dangerman says:


    …a person who gets off on pretending to be paralyzed so they can talk to people who actually are…

    Sick fuckers once again proving Rule 34.

  45. 45
    Cacti says:


    Mormon me once, shame on you; Mormon me twice, shame on me.

    Joseph Smith would have appreciated the kid’s moxie.

  46. 46
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    This stuff looks pathetic only when they get caught. One of the more bizarre things like this I can remember is in another forum I post in, a teenage girl from Oregon had the entire forum believing that she was actually a 30-something guy from Jamaica who was living in Florida. For two years. I mean at some point you stop laughing at these people and start asking them if they’ve ever thought of working for the FBI.

  47. 47
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    There is no way that Te’o isn’t involved in this up to his thick neck.

  48. 48
    smintheus says:

    @bluehill: Nothing about Te’o’s story adds up: the story is full of contradictions and impossible things; it changed over time; as the story got more elaborate, things happened in different orders and got explained in different ways, and the chronology got all bollixed up; it required us to believe totally implausible things (like not rushing to her bedside). It also started out with their meeting each other, then after the hoax was exposed this supposedly torrid romance was transformed absurdly into one in which they never actually met (?!).

    And those are just the most obvious ways in which it’s clear that Te’o was lying from beginning to end.

  49. 49
    Elie says:

    He is no worse a confabulist than almost anyone you could select from the leadership of the Republican Part. They and he are imprinted with mythological and dreamscape ideology from some deep well of cultural need to be special and unique, while in reality being nothing special and very mundane.

    That said, I feel sorry for him. He just ruined his life and his career and my guess is that HE won’t really understand himself how it all happened…

  50. 50
    General Stuck says:

    Ok, I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the wingnuts, that they may be suffering under some kind of spell making them do incredibly stupid shit on what is becoming like every other day.

    After a tough election season and an equally tough lame duck session of Congress, House Republicans are regrouping at a image makeover retreat in Williamsburg, Va. this week.

    But it’s not looking so good.

    Reporters quickly noted that a session for lawmakers called “Discussion on Successful Communication with Minorities and Women” will actually take place in the “Burwell Plantation” room at the resort where the retreat is being held.

    It turns out, according to NBC News, the room “is named after the Burwell Family, a wealthy family that owned many slaves in 18th century Southern Virginia.”

    If its not talking about rape, it’s holding a pow wow at the pad of former white slave owners. And with MLK day four days off.

    edit – oh oh, and then there is this

    With such obvious image problems, lawmakers probably shouldn’t have been very surprised when GOP pollster David Winston unveiled, as Politico reports, the House Republicans’ most recent favorable rating: “It came in at a barrel-scraping 27 percent.”

  51. 51
    Elie says:

    @General Stuck:

    Yes, it MUST be a spell of some kind. Either that or a collective stupid so dense that no light of any kind can escape it…

  52. 52
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Dare I mention that there was an article in the NYT about Republicans who have voted no but, deep down, want bills to pass? What a bunch of cowards and hypocrites. If you’re too afraid to vote how you truly feel, maybe you don’t belong in Congress. Elected officials shouldn’t be basing how they can vote based on how big of a yellow puddle might form at the base of their feet at the prospect of a primary challenge.

    It was incredibly surreal, and the NYT commenters were properly ripping into these chickenshit Republicans.

  53. 53
    Medrawt says:

    If the Te’os were telling the truth about everything, then this was the most elaborate hoax of all time, involving roping in an actual woman who would stay on the phone with him for hours at a time. Even if you set aside the story of them meeting after a ND-Stanford game, the stories about her death clearly imply that they had hung out together back home.

    If the Te’os didn’t know about the hoax and it wasn’t the most elaborate pointless hoax of all time, then Manti and eventually his family was complicit in elaborating on and lying about the seriousness of his internet-only relationship with a girl he never met. To gin up sympathy, or because he felt embarrassed about being so into a girl he’d never met?

    The rest of the options, obviously, look worse for Manti.

  54. 54
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @Suffern ACE: I found a YouTube of him from a Spanish-language talent show. He stuttered in Spanish, too, and then sang “Imagine” very nicely. You can probably do a search there and find it. I think we’ve got the real deal there.

  55. 55
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @General Stuck:

    Ah, GOP image makeover sessions. A crowning achievement in unintentional political humor. There always seems to be 3 or 4 of these things a year and they come out each time swearing that this time they’re going to be hip and diverse and modern and finally get (demographic) to stop voting Democrat, and then 1 day later some backbencher says something about rape or slavery being a good thing if you look at it the right way. Tale as old as time, etc.

    I guess this time they just wanted to get it over with quickly.

  56. 56
    👽 Martin says:

    USC fans can be supreme assholes. They must all aspire to be Yankees fans, or something. Anyway, this is a plausible theory, if a more than a bit more roundabout than just that Manti lied the whole time.

    Occam’s razor leads me to conclude Manti was behind this the whole time.

  57. 57
    El Tiburon says:

    I can proudly say I only recently heard of Te’o or whatever and that I had no idea about his dead fake girlfriend.

    One of the pleasures(?)of being addicted to liberal media and liberal blogs is not being bombarded with these ridiculous stories.

    I don’t know of the latest blonde girl abducted in Aruba is nor do I know who the father of Kim Kardashian’s baby is.

    And for this I am thankful. So, I could really care less that the sports media and media in general failed yet again. It is Who They Are and it is What They do.

  58. 58
    El Caganer says:

    Te’o. T-e-e-o. Deadspin tweet and me wanna go home.

  59. 59
    handy says:

    @👽 Martin:

    USC fans can be supreme assholes. They must all aspire to be Yankees fans, or something.

    I approve this comment.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Tiburon:

    I don’t know of the latest blonde girl abducted in Aruba is nor do I know who the father of Kim Kardashian’s baby is.

    The obvious comment here is neither does Kim Kardashian.

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    My hunch is that there were two related sets of lies. In one set, this guy Tuiasasopo got a female friend to ingratiate herself with Te’o, and Te’o believed everything she said, to the point where it became almost sad, and so Tuiasasopo and friend decided to kill her off. In another set of lies, Te’o started to embellish the story of how he had this awesome girlfriend so that it wouldn’t seem weird that he had fallen so hard for someone he never met in person, so he came up with tales of how they really did too meet, and it was like totally romantic and chivalrous and synched up with his whole Linebacker Tebow holy-roller persona.

  62. 62
    Suffern ACE says:

    @FlipYrWhig: then there is the young woman whose pictures were used. Her claim that she sent them to Ronaiah because he told her he had a friend who was sick and had seen her picture and thought she was pretty-could you do him a favor and send him a current one…who are these people?

  63. 63
    nastybrutishntall says:

    @General Stuck:
    that number, I’ve seen it before. does this mean the Matrix is real?

  64. 64
    Roger Moore says:


    a collective stupid so dense that no light of any kind can escape it…

    AKA The Wingularity.

  65. 65
    TooManyJens says:


    He just ruined his life and his career

    Do you think so? I have to believe there’s at least one team out there that wants his talents enough to overlook the imaginary dead internet girlfriend.

    The guy’s a punchline right now, but we have short attention spans in this country.

  66. 66
    handsmile says:

    “It was the hour you make confidences to a stranger…”*

    Until yesterday, I had never heard of Manti Te’o.

    Hey, @eemom: Catching up on the evening’s threads, I happened upon your proposal of a Capital City meet-up during the Inauguration weekend. If that was not an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a fictitious persona, any details?

    “I can’t believe in you but I can keep a promise (tell me)…”*

    (* To a Stranger, The Golden Palominos)

  67. 67
    Dead Ernest says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: I’m startled. Thought for sure it would be a 30 year old guy from Jamaica, living in Florida, who was pretending to be a teenage girl living in Oregon.

    Seems as if something just passed its own self going around that last bend there.
    Dang recursive internet.

  68. 68
    handy says:

    God Grey’s Anatomy is terrible. Just an awful show.

  69. 69
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @TooManyJens: seriously. Watching ESPN the other night they previewed a Te’o story, and the next one was about… Ray Lewis. Who has managed to become a respected elder statesman of football even after having been indicted on murder charges.

  70. 70
    mclaren says:

    The lies slowly escalate, pile up, and create an improbable whole.

    Sounds like a description of the Republican party.

    Unfortunately, it’s also a good description of the Obama administration.

  71. 71
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Dead Ernest:

    It’s a big internet. Lots of specific…quirks.

  72. 72
    MattR says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I think it is something along those lines. It would not shock me if there was one group who was messing with Te’o by creating a fake girlfriend while at the same time Te’o was lying also the details of the relationship to manipulate his image on campus (especially if Te’o was worried about questions regarding with his own sexuality)

  73. 73
    Suffern ACE says:

    @MattR: he also created a fake sister for the fake girlfriend, and chatted with people on line in both roles.

  74. 74
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Suffern ACE: Who is Lazaro Arbos?

  75. 75
    eemom says:


    I happened upon your proposal of a Capital City meet-up during the Inauguration weekend. If that was not an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a fictitious persona, any details?

    Ah, so glad you asked! No details yet, but that’s because the idea only occurred to me this afternoon. I have asked Doug Galt to do a FP post about it so I can see if folks are interested, and if so, I’ll figure something out…..maybe in consultation with Redshift if he is available/interested.

    I was thinking either Monday late afternoon/evening or Sunday evening….when will you be in town?

  76. 76
    SarahT says:

    Online I sometimes pose as an underemployed, cranky, middle-aged broad living in a tiny apartment with a huge credit card balance, the world’s crappiest computer, and an equally underemployed husband. Oh wait – shit…

    But hey, we still have our health, as well as cable TV & booze, woohoo !

  77. 77
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @General Stuck:

    It never seems to occur to the Republicans that their image problem is a direct result of their ideas, their statements and their tactics. I’m guessing that the people who are handsomely paid to conduct these turd polishing seminars will be the last to wise them up.

  78. 78
    PurpleGirl says:

    @PurpleGirl: FYWP — it ate my edit.

    ETA: I Googled Lazaro Arbos. It is a well-known and common effect that people who stutter do not stutter when they sing. Country singer Mel Tillis was almost as well known for his stutter as for his singing.

    ETA 2: The effect probably has to do with the rhythmic quality of singing and/or the fact that singing overrides the usual neural processes involved in hearing and speech.

  79. 79
    Suffern ACE says:

    @PurpleGirl: a handsome young man from florida, who scoops ice cream for a living, who has a horrible stutter that goes away when he sings. He’ll be on your tv tomorrow.

  80. 80
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Suffern ACE: TY for the response. I think the stutter is real. See my comment at #78.

  81. 81

    @Suffern ACE: he won’t be on my TV, that’s for sure.

  82. 82
    anthrosciguy says:

    @Brent: That just shows you how good a hoax it was.

  83. 83
    PurpleGirl says:

    Anne Laurie: I read The Lying Disease. Very intriguing article; long but worth it.

    ETA: I’ve seen some of the threads on the T’eo “scandal” but not being into football I’ve not followed it. Sounds like the guy has problems and needs professional help.

  84. 84
    BethanyAnne says:

    @handsmile: wow, Golden Palominos. Love them :)

  85. 85
    Joey Maloney says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Or, maybe it started out as a practical joke. And then when the guy either figured it out or had the trap sprung on him, he was too embarrassed to admit how thoroughly he’d been made a fool of, and so he became, if not a co-conspirator, at least an accomplice.

    I’m not following the story that closely. Could that scenario fit the facts?

  86. 86
    Wally Ballou says:

    I wonder if Te’o ever met Captain Jonathan Tuttle. Best damn OD the 4077th ever had.

  87. 87
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: You can type, Maru?

    Does this also mean you know about One Click on Amazon? (MY own cats don’t know my password.)

  88. 88
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @General Stuck: 27% is higher than I would have expected. Not bad for Repubs.

  89. 89
    WereBear says:

    @TooManyJens: I have to believe there’s at least one team out there that wants his talents enough to overlook the imaginary dead internet girlfriend.

    The guy who rampantly tortured dogs was welcomed back. This is just a dead imaginary girlfriend!

  90. 90
    Helen Bedd says:

    from the atlantic

    How ‘The Simpsons’ Explains the Manti Te’o Fake-Girlfriend Saga

    Before the Notre Dame Heisman-finalist and Lennay Kekua, there was Ms. Krabappel and Woodrow.

  91. 91
    Tokyokie says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I tend to believe what happened is something along these lines, and I think the USC angle also makes sense. But I also think that when the tale really became inflated was once the Notre Dame SID caught wind of it and kept asking Te’o for more details to publicize. You know, pretty much the same assholes who gave us this:

  92. 92
    R-Jud says:


    It is a well-known and common effect that people who stutter do not stutter when they sing. Country singer Mel Tillis was almost as well known for his stutter as for his singing.

    Yup! We use singing as part of my daughter’s speech therapy. She doesn’t stutter, but has a pile of other speech-related issues. The singing is helping her put words into the correct order in spoken sentences and also sharpening her diction.

  93. 93
    mai naem says:

    I used to work with a woman who used to tell some real whoppers. Generally to make herself look better but some of it was just plain stupid. Pathological liars are just interesting to look at as long as you know they’re big fat liars. This woman told me: all three her daughters were not only MDs but were specialists(pediatric neurologist,pediatric cardiac surgeon,ob/gyn.) All three went to top flight schools. All three came home for every Christmas and Thanksgiving over a five year period that I talked to her. Apparently they were never on call on holidays. All three also had managed to have multiple kids.And none came out to stay with her when she for real had her breast cancer or knee replacement surgeries. That her son was an architect but she had to hire an outside person to draw plans for a small extension on her house. That her SS was going to be like $4K/mo. That she had bought her car with cash, at another point she still had to pay it off. She had moved to a much bigger house That her husband was working a full time(with overtime) low level job but recieving a healthy pension from another job. That she had inherited a hotel in Spain. That she was moving to a bigger house, that they had bought the house and were painting the house to move in(they weren’t/hadn’t.) Crazy stuff. We had a mutual friend who would not believe me when I told him she was a big fat liar until he caught her in a lie. I finally figured out the verbal cues that told me she was lying her ass off. Just weird.

  94. 94
    rumpole says:

    Here’s what doesn’t make sense to me in one word: Skype. Even if you had a solely online girlfriend, video chat still exists. It’s even safer than going to a coffee shop. So this guy, who grew up in the age of the iphone, never once talked to his sweetie over a webcam. No. This smells like a publicity stunt. How’s this: manipulate media to create sympathetic narrative for Heisman voting. (This ends my cynicism for the day. I hope).

  95. 95
    Jade Jordan says:

    @Corner Stone: 43rev

    Gay and in a relationship with USC guy. Football Death Star.

  96. 96
    handsmile says:


    The handsmiles will be arriving in our nation’s Capital by private jet late on Friday evening. Our weekend schedule will be quite frantic, what with balls, fetes, and embassy galas.

    Of course, none of the above is true (other than today’s arrival), but I did receive a “commemorative invitation” from The Presidential Inaugural Committee so I’m feeling quite grand. And besides, isn’t this thread about pathological lying on the Intertubes?

    Mid-to-late afternoon on Sunday or Monday would be possible for me. Evenings will be with our hosts and friends in Potomac. It would be delightful if something could be arranged! Other Juicers whom I know live in the DC area are the lovely cosmopolitan Valdivia and the erudite Steeplejack.

  97. 97
    evodevo says:

    I’ve personally run into this, not on the net, but in person. In the tiny town where I live and work, I’ve run into two Munchhausen’s women (both in their 40’s). What are the odds of that?!
    One was claiming she had “terminal cancer”, yet when confronted had not seen a doctor or had chemo or anything else (?). We later found out she was up on bad check charges and had a lot of dysfunctional family stuff going on.
    And the other was a co-worker who claimed to be a former scrub nurse, and who had a continuous series of “health problems”, but whose narrative of those problems never quite added up. She subsequently quit, saying she didn’t want to “work that much”, but soon was managing a convenient store in the next town (?).
    That’s how you know someone has this mental condition – the stories never add up.

  98. 98
    Svensker says:


    Eeep. Horrible.

    I have an internet friend whose husband faked cancer (Munchhausen galore). He had her completely fooled. He was sick with the chemo he was getting, about to die, might have to his arm amputated because of complications, etc., etc. She went through hell, only to discover that he didn’t have cancer at all and was only doing all this stuff (including emetics to make himself vomit constantly) in a weird bid to control her. Her online friends had actually done a fundraiser for them that brought in thousands of $. She dumped him and eventually managed to pay back her friends.

    People are definitely weird.

  99. 99
    handsmile says:


    Oh, my yes! Among my all-time absolute favorites. I can’t begin to calculate just how many hours of my life have been spent listening to their music (and I have been since the early ’80s.)

    it so happens that in late December the band was billed to perform at the NYC music club, Le Poisson Rouge. Well, that was a bit of a canard. Anton Fier (of course) and Lori Carson were the only Palomino veterans on stage. Only a slight disappointment, however, as Carson performed her entire 1995 album, Where It Goes. It was transcendent.

    “These Days,” I’m “Alive and Living Now” far more often than “Dying from the Inside Out,” and I hope the same is true of you. :)

  100. 100
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Helen Bedd: I was thinking about that episode yesterday…

    @Joey Maloney: Sounds plausible. It all depends on how gullible you’re prepared to think Te’o could be. And in my view he seems super gullible.

  101. 101
    nemesis says:

    Not sure I agree with the “USC supporter is pissed so he ropes manti into a hoax” thingy.

    Word has it that Ronaiah (not even trying the last name) is friends with manti. manti and nd want us to believe that manti and Ronaiah are not close, but some info suggests otherwise.

    manti lied about at least one thing. He claims that he met Lennay on Nov 38, 2009 after the Stanford game. This of course is false.

    Which could mean:

    manti was in on the hoax from the very beginning OR
    manti decided, for what ever reason (embarrassment, school officials insisted) to keep alive the ruse.

    teo’s lack of response to all that is happening is telling. He obviously believes that the current situation where speculation abounds and his credibility is taking a big ding, is better than what would happen if he came clean and talked.

    Expect being “teo’ed” and being “Armstronged” to enter the lexicon soon.

  102. 102
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    When I read things like this, I always remember what my father told me. He said that you can lock your door against a thief, but that you have no protection against a liar, because you never know when they are lying to you and when they are telling the truth. I’ve met several pathological liars over a lifetime, and they are the most puzzling of people because there doesn’t seem to be any real motive or gain from the lying. I would suspect that what this article states…that it’s a personality disorder symptom, is probably dead on. It just doesn’t make it any less baffling.

  103. 103
    MCA1 says:

    @nemesis: “Te’oing” is already a meme. It consists of tweeting out a picture of yourself with your arm around the imaginary person standing next to you, or gazing lovingly at nothing.

  104. 104
    Paul in KY says:

    @hitchhiker: Jeezus Christ!

  105. 105
    Heliopause says:

    Te’o volunteered tons of information to the media about his alleged relationship, including details of in-person meetings and interactions with her non-existent family. I see the possibilities as follows, in ascending order of probability:

    3. Te’o was punked by an elaborate hoax that included at least two people conspiring over a period of years to pose as the non-existent girlfriend and perhaps other characters as well.

    2. Te’o was victimized by a narrower hoax but the perpetrator didn’t realize that his victim suffered from a profound personality problem and would subsequently weave the girlfriend story into elaborate fantasies.

    1. Te’o was in on it.

    And this is about more than a young man who has unfortunately embarrassed himself in front of the whole world. Notre Dame, as they so often do when it comes to their core mission (the football program), have carved some pretty yawning chasms in their credibility here. This could be a Penn State Lite situation.

  106. 106
    Thatgaljill says:

    USC punked Notre Dame’s star player

    As a lifelong USC fan with a deep respect for the rivalry with Notre Dame, I feel compelled to point out that the person ABC News and other outlets are pointing to, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, is not a member of the USC student body, faculty or staff. So to say USC punked Teo is quite a way from accurate.

    The fact that this started in 2009 and went on for 3 years is what baffles me. In three years you don’t manage to meet someone or skype with them or??? The hoaxsters went so far as to have “Lennay” text and email a UCLA player who is Te’o’s best friend.

    The whole freakin’ thing is just bizarre, but I don’t see how it circles back to USC.

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