If you are going to perpetrate a fraud, please don’t be stupid about it.

While I don’t support fraud, I can understand engaging in it for profit’s sake.

When there is enough reward, the risks can sometimes become reasonable.

But when there is little or no benefit to the fraud, or the risks seriously outweigh the rewards, I have to assume that anyone attempting such a thing is as stupid as they come.

The recent revelations about the cheating taking place by Atlanta school teachers is a good example of this. For the possible reward of improved test scores, increased job security and satisfied administrators, teachers and principals chose to place their careers, the public trust, and possible prison time on the line by changing answers on standardized tests and facilitating student cheating during testing periods.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

The risk-reward ratio in this scenario is ridiculous.

And I have to wonder:

Hasn’t anyone in the Atlanta school system read Freakonomics or the related literature on school cheating?  Identifying cheating has become a simple examination of the data. From the privacy of their nondescript cubicles, statisticians can look at a set of assessment data and determine which teacher is cheating and which one is not.

It is simply a matter of pressing a few buttons on a calculator.

Making the attempt at fraud even more stupid.

An even more egregious case in point:

The CBS television affiliate in Boston recently falsified the images of the fireworks display from the Fourth of July in order to improve the quality of the footage.

Boston-based executive producer David Dugar admitted that the station had shot well known landmarks such as Fenway Park, Quincy Market, and the State House prior to the fireworks show and then superimposed these images into the video footage before airing it to the public.

Dugar defended his decision by claiming that the show represented entertainment rather than news, thus placing him squarely in the same camp as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in terms of his ability to admit fault.

Viewers began calling into the Boston Globe on Friday to say it was impossible that the fireworks could have appeared over the famous city landmarks when they were launched in the opposite direction from the Charles River.

Once again making the attempt at fraud even more stupid.

So the CBS affiliate comes across as looking foolish and incompetent, and for what?

Had they not been caught, to what advantage would the falsified video footage have served? Were the producers hoping to create a social media buzz about the remarkable quality of the broadcast in hopes of drawing more viewers next year?

Do they really think that a fireworks display on television is buzz-worthy?

Does the advertising that they sell before and after the fireworks really amount to much in the grand scheme of things?

Was there any money at all to be made had this fraud been successful?

And what did the television station risk?

In addition to the embarrassment that they have experienced on a national level, they have now transformed their fireworks broadcast into the only one that should be avoided next year. In their short-sighted and inexplicable effort to boost ratings for a blip on the programming radar, they have found a way to make their fireworks broadcast the only one in the history of television that cannot be trusted.

In addition, they managed to damage the reputation of their station in the process.

Like I said, I’m not defending fraud, and I don’t recommend that anyone engage in it.

But if you decide to do so, at least be smart about it. Make informed decisions and ensure that the risks are balanced by the potential benefits in the event that your fraud is successful.

Adding immorality to the world is bad enough. Don’t add any more stupidity in the process.

We have plenty of that already.

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