Noesis 58 - February 1991

by Rick Rosner

If you're like me, you'd like your whopping IQ to mean something, to make some difference in your everyday life. But, if you're like me, you actually find yourself rather stupid, prone to moronic behavior under dopey circumstances. You might find other people even more stupid, except for their occasional flashes of cunning that serve mainly to make you feel bad for judging them so harshly. And other people's stupidity doesn't seem to give you any advantage, but instead is a cornucopia of ridiculous situations in which you find yourself pointlessly struggling.

Well, by working in bars (a primary locale for mentally deficient behavior), I've found a way to get paid for being smarter than certain people, to catch them lying, to catch them using fake ID.

I have the unnatural advantages of being much older and less intoxicated than my underage victims, but for each fake ID user I catch, my bosses pay me ten bucks, and I reap the additional spiritual rewards of feeling clever and being mean to attractive people who would have snubbed me had we attended high school together.

My fiance read this article, and she said, "Why would Noesis readers be interested in this? I think you'd better add some math." Besides the satisfaction of abusing my social superiors, catching fake id's gives the pleasure of watching probability in action. Of the people whose id's I check, around one third are, in my initial estimation, possibly underage. (The rest are too old and wrinkly.) About one in twelve possibly underage people has a fake ID.

After getting an ID in my grubby, grasping hand, I go to work, comparing the person to his or her ID, asking questions, trying to make my internal ID gauge, which is wavering between REAL ID and FAKE ID, pick a definite value. Much of the excitement for me is in feeling the gauge swing wildly back and forth as I ask questions, trying to decide, "Is this person using fake ID or is he just a total idiot?" No casino game or imaginary urn problem offers the same type of elusive value determinations.

There are two types of ID-checking errors, which I call alpha and beta errors. An alpha error is when a person uses fake ID successfully. A beta error is when we decide wrongly that an ID is fake.

I don't worry too much about alpha errors. When it comes to fake ID, I'm such a vicious asshole that anyone who gets past me will probably also fool any liquor control cops who check out our bar. L.A. fake Id's can be so good that a trained, conscientious doorperson might not catch more than 40% of the fake ID'S he or she examines. I like to think that I catch 80% of the fakes I encounter.

I worry more about beta errors, where we turn away people who should have been admitted, just because they're brainless and don't remember personal facts such as their age and their birthdate. I try to catch at least 50 actual fakes for every beta error.

An additional justification for telling Noesis readers about fake ID is that it's not a very speculative subject and I can hope that it won't lead to the circular, perpetual debates that ensue when Noesis members present revolutionary new cosmologies.

At Mom's Saloon, I catch an average of 7 Id's each night I work, and at The Oar House, an average of 12. At the Sagebrush Cantina, where I just started, I hope to catch up to 30 in a single shift, if none of the violence-prone customers or other staff members incapacitate me. Many of the underage visitors to Mom's come from Beverly Hills, and I get the additional satisfaction of confiscating ID'S from especially affluent and snotty people.

California is the golden state for fake id's. From over 170 DMV offices, the state of California annually issues at least five million id's. Between .1% and .4% of these are fake. The person pictured on the ID is not the person whose name and birthdate appear on the ID.

Official-but-fake id's are obtained by people who have the guts to go to the DMV and get a driver's license or state ID while posing as someone else. Between 20 and 80 thousand official-but-fake California id's are in use, most by underage people trying to pass for 21. An official but fake driver's license is (he best readily-available fake ID. Over 95% of these will never be detected, which makes catching them challenging and fun.

The next best type of fake ID is one borrowed from someone who looks like the user and shares their approximate physical dimensions. Perhaps one fourth of 18, 19, and 20-year-olds have access to some type of fake ID. Many of the millions of tourists visiting L.A. have fake ID. Most out-of-state fake ID users aren't as sophisticated and are easier to catch.

Between one and five percent of people trying to enter most popular bars are underage. The exact percentages vary with (he time of year, the strictness of doorpeople, and other factors.

Here are some characteristics found in people using fake ID, arranged from most to least indicative:


Has same name and birthdate as another patron
Doesn't know or can't spell name
Doesn't know birthdate
True eye color disagrees wildly with color given on ID
ID user fabricates immediately falsifiable information (i.e. says he's wearing colored contacts but isn't wearing contacts, says she went to high school in Albuquerque but names a high school and a street which don't exist) Has an overstuffed wallet but nothing that matches the name on the ID
True height disagrees with height on recently-issued ID by more than four inches
Doesn't know zodiac sign


True eye color somewhat disagrees with ID eye color
Signature differs wildly from signature on ID
Doesn't know his/her age
True height disagrees with height on recently-issued ID by two or more inches
Says he/she drove, but has nothing in car with name that matches ID
Has a facial characteristic that doesn't match that in picture, most commonly:

Arc of eyebrows
Distance between eyes
Prominence and shape of chin, nose, head, or ears

Doesn't know year she/he graduated high school
Has two friends with questionable id's
ID user's apparent age is five years less than age on ID
Friends don't know ID user's name MIDDLING OBJECTIONS

Signature differs somewhat from signature on ID
ID has expired
ID isn't a driver's license
ID user doesn't know his/her slate's capital, area code, or prominent landmarks (i.e. Someone with an ID apparently issued in St. Louis says the Connecticut River runs through her town.)
Female user doesn't know birth stone
Has one friend with dubious ID
ID user's apparent age is three years less than age on ID


ID says "Duplicate"
ID user has no other ID
No middle name is listed on ID
ID is less than a year old
ID user has no idea when 10 was issued
Signature on recently-issued ID is childish and unpracticed
ID user or friends are wearing Greek insignia (Fraternity/sorority members often find it easy to get fake ID.)

Some fake ID users pretend not to speak English so they don't have to answer questions. Some say they're very religious and don't have pagan knowledge of their zodiac sign. The occasional user will claim plastic surgery or a bad car wreck to explain away differing facial features. Some people will claim they lost height when they lost weight. Others will say they're models and must claim to be taller in order to get work.

The Mega Society

Copyright (c) 1991 by the Mega Society. All rights reserved. Copyright for each individual contribution is retained by the author unless otherwise indicated.