The Email of Three Lies

“That’s not a twist-off…”

Harvard University sits in the middle of Cambridge, just across the river from Boston. One of the most well-known landmarks on campus is this sculpture of John Harvard:

The “John Harvard” statue[Photo credit: dog97209]

Except, well, it isn’t a sculpture of John Harvard at all. It’s often referred to as the “statue of three lies” because:

  • 1. It’s not a representation of John Harvard.

  • 2. It lists John Harvard as “Founder”, though he was not.

  • 3. It lists the school’s founding as 1638, rather than the correct 1636.

The reason for the first lie is that no one knows what John Harvard looked like. As for the other two fallacies, I’ve no idea why they’ve remained for nearly a century and a half. At least it makes for good tour guide fodder.

I was reminded of this goofy statue thanks to the following email from CVS:

An email from CVS stating “The updated COVID-19 vaccine is here! Oh, and it’s free.”

Somewhat coincidentally, the email arrived shortly before a vaccine appointment I had already scheduled at a nearby CVS location. Though I was a bit concerned about that asterisk on the word “free”, I figured I’d give it a go. Just a few minutes after receiving this email, I biked over to CVS and checked in at the pharmacy desk.

Now, I will note that on the plus side, I did not have to pay for the vaccine. However, that was because I didn’t get immunized at all. The clerk told me all COVID vaccine appointments had been cancelled, because they had not yet received any supply.1

Back at home and sadly unstabbed, I glanced at the email again. That’s when I was reminded of the aforementioned John Harvard statue. You see, this email is false in multiple ways. Like the statue, it features its own trio of tarradiddles. Firstaball, the updated COVID-19 vaccine is, in fact, not here! It’s not here at all, and that’s a problem. Secondaball, the vaccine may or may not be free, as many people have had issues with getting insurance coverage. To their credit, they did at least put a caveat on that. But thirdaball?

That patient’s right arm really does not look like it matches her body. I don’t know if it’s a bad Photoshop, bad lighting, or what, but despite the nail polish and rings, that looks like a (possibly severed) man’s arm draped across her chest.


  1. She also asked me “Did you get a text?”. I could only stare back as I bit my tongue against the snarky responses that sprang to mind. After all, it was CVS’s system that failed to alert me, and that probably wasn’t her fault. But no, no I did not get a text telling me my appointment was cancelled. If I had, I would not have shown up for said appointment. ↩︎