10 Tips for Telling Fact From Fiction

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Why Conspiracy Theorists Are Obsessed With CERN

Why Conspiracy Theorists Are Obsessed With CERN

CERN scientists do groundbreaking work with its Large Hadron Collider. Stuff They Don't Want You To Know looks at the conspiracies behind the science.

Author's Note: 10 Tips for Telling Fact From Fiction

I've long been fascinated with con artists and the art of deception, ever since I saw the 1990 movie "The Grifters," which was based upon a book by the great pulp novelist Jim Thompson. And as a journalist, I've had a number of opportunities to talk with real-life con artists. The most notable of them was Richard Bailey, whom I profiled for GQ magazine back in the 1990s, when he was arrested and put on trial on charges connected with disappearance of Chicago heiress Helen Brach. Bailey, who made his living for years romancing and swindling wealthy women, had a certain irresistible homespun charm, even as he spun lies so outrageous that it's hard to imagine anyone believing them. He passed off a snapshot of himself standing next to Morgan Fairchild, for example, as proof that he'd had an affair with the famous actress -- a claim that my subsequent call to her publicist quickly refuted. When I pointed out the fib, though, Bailey was surprisingly good-natured about being busted. For him, apparently, it was no big deal, and he just kept on spinning his stories despite it.

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