Juvenile delinquent taught at a university


And what do you think?

You first.

This doesn’t surprise me any more than the time that a physicist submitted a fake paper full of utter nonsense to a respected sociology journal, and got it accepted.
EDIT: And what’s this doing in CS, anyway?

Moved to IMHO from Cafe Society.

The conclusion may be correct (i.e. sociology may be BS), but I don’t think it can be demonstrated from those observations. Abegnale taught one freshman and one sophomore level course to undergrads by reading ahead and becoming knowledgeable enough with the material to teach others. If he’d had a knack for mathematics he could have done exactly the same thing with algebra, but that doesn’t in and of itself prove that algebra is BS.

As Vinyl Turnip asked, what do you think? You haven’t told us yet.

I think Abegnale’s best scam is where he successfully passed himself off as a Senator from Arizona for almost thirty years.

Agreed. What is the act of teaching, after all? In one possible simplified interpretation, it is “imparting knowledge”. If he succeeded in doing that, then how does that invalidate the knowledge he taught? The effective imparting of the knowledge and the inherent value of the information are frankly unrelated.

However, IMHO he demonstrated the weakness of assuming that a fully credentialed professor is required to teach the subject effectively at a university level. (I will not speak for all teachers everywhere, but it is my understanding that educators are often expected to teach subjects that they are not masters of - to be effective, they do what Abegnale did, they study ahead of the students.)

I was most impressed by his success at passing himself off as a sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, proving sign language to be the fraud we’ve long suspected.

Also, he passed the bar exam in, I believe, LA, so clearly the law is bunk, too.

He taught some introductory level courses. I’ve had introductory level courses administered by a Teacher’s Assistant. I can certainly believe that it wouldn’t take much more than reading ahead and a combination of teaching from the text and “what do you think?” classroom discussions but I don’t see where that proves much. He’s reading the words of a skilled sociologist via the text and parroting them back to the class.

It would be more interesting if he blindly authored a couple sociology textbooks that other people taught from without noticing the fraud.

This will come as a shock, I’m sure, but it’s very possible Frank Abagnale made up some of the stuff in his book. After all, his book was about his history of making stuff up.

So while he says he taught classes at Brigham Young University without being caught, he produced no proof of this claim and BYU has publicly stated he never taught there and has produced records showing they never an instructor named Frank Adams (the name Abagnale claims he used as a teacher) or any other of Abagnale’s aliases.

After studying 4 month and only on the third try. And why should law be bunk? You can get certified as a mechanic or a plumber after spending that much time. Of course, law is not bunk since there are laws out there. Just it is not very difficult.

Could you please answer one question? Why Abagnale never piloted an airplane?

Because it’s harder to fake than other things.

It doesn’t follow, however, that “other things” are illegitimate.

He also faked being a doctor, but as was portrayed in the movie, never actually treated anyone. So what does that prove about him pretending to be a college professor/instructor?

Because he never owned MS Flight Simulator?

Right - the skill set he was faking here wasn’t “sociologist,” it was “educator.” He could have picked literally any subject and bluffed his way through a lower-division survey course on it.

But leaving that aside, we also don’t know that he was able to teach the class properly. He was able to hide his lack of credential from a bunch of students who also don’t know anything about the subject. The administration may have praised his performance, but they’re not talking about his academic performance, they’re only talking about his ability to fulfill the administrative requirements of his position - showing up for work, turning in roll sheets on time, number of student complaints generated, things like that. No one is monitoring him to make sure he’s giving credible interpretations of the works of Herbert Spencer.

His attempts to teach sociology might have been as catastrophic failures as his attempt to fly a plane would have been - but screwing up a sociology course doesn’t result in a giant fireball, so it’s harder to notice it’s going on right away. And it looks like Abgenale was only at the college (if he was there at all) for, at most, three semesters - and possibly just the one, depending on how many classes they gave him.

Apparently Abnagale’s involvement at BYU could have been as a guest lecturer or teaching assistant in summer courses, not as a “professor”, and that would have left no permanent record.

Apparently BYU used the word “semester” to mean whatever length of course got you 3 credits.

And IME sociology is one of those disciplines that seems to get no respect. But yes, the fraud was not at sociology it was at teaching.

So rather than impersonating a sociology professor as the OP said, he himself said he “got to go up and teach just a couple of weeks of a summer course up there more as like a teacher’s aide.”

Why was this thrilling escapade not included in Catch Me If You Can?