Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Book Review/The Confidence Game: The Psychology Of The Con And Why We Fall For It Every Time By Maria Konnikova

There's a con tailor made for each and every one of us potentially waiting around any corner because the confidence gamer is looking for the perfect mark, and that description could fit you.

Ms Konnikova writes a fascinating account showing how a con is done and the victim is reeled in through various stages as their psychological penchants including face-saving, hoping for the best, and not cutting losses are highjacked. Meticulous research presented via her riveting authorship is similar to an action film replete with flashbacks, voice-overs, multiple plot lines, and a legion of characters, both A-listers and supporting cast.

Since nobody thinks they can be conned, because of the wonky perception that being tricked obviously only happens to others and not you, the confidence huckster will use this misguided confidence to their advantage. If you are an expert, consider that expertise your probable entry point to being conned. Unwavering belief in your own skepticism, logic, rationality, and the emotional investment in your self-identity are all keys rattling on a con's key chain. Michael Crichton, a trained medical doctor who became a well-known and highly successful author, screenwriter, director, and producer got repeatedly conned by The Great Imposter, Ferdinand Waldo Demara while Crichton was penning his first two books which were about Mr. Demara.

Though using the Internet as a means to con is mentioned, I would have loved if that approach could have been elaborated upon further, especially in the glorious dinger of a wrap-up chapter regarding cult indoctrination. Self-help gurus, financial sharks, spirituality fleecers, and knowledge pushers peddling shallow, confusing perspectives and advice that if followed will have the duped crashing through the thin ice of gullibility into the freezing water of time and/or money loss only to wonder where did that lovely skating towards whatever reward was alluded went to all flourish on the web. These gurus could have bona fide credentials such as academic degrees, and while not specifically breaking the law, still not exactly delivering what they are espousing. I find this type alarming because they can just keep spouting their baloney, harming others in various ways, without ever worrying about being closed down by the law. 

Though the dark triad traits of Psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and Narcissism can work to your advantage when conning, a person who cons doesn't have to have these traits. The one aspect that all fraudsters share is that they choose to con others because not only do they identify the opportunity but they also give themselves a rationale to do so. Keep in mind that despite the fact that not all dark triad trait individuals swindle in a clearly illegal manner, psychologists have established that they wreak serious havoc with their self-absorbed, non-reciprocal, and concealed interface in both their public and private lives.

A deeper understanding of myself and others kept bubbling to the surface as I read. The best foil against becoming entangled in a confidence game regardless its level is self-knowledge. Identify your vulnerability when you are vulnerable: Is a pity play softening further your already exceedingly soft heart? Are you lonely? Do you have money troubles? Are you experiencing health problems? Do societal changes stress you?

The possibility of being conned can't be completely eliminated as our self-knowledge is in a state of flux. However there's a greater chance to cut losses if you realise that you can do exactly that, the very defence a con artist tries her best to prevent your wielding because without someone to play to the planned end, the payout will be none or much less, and even worse, the law could be brought in before the blowoff and fix can be completed. Those two confidence game jargon words involve the techniques to convince the victim to keep quiet so the trickster can remain free to continue the game with others.

Completing this book borders both on a therapeutic session, a very affordable one, with a gifted psychologist and a brainstorming session with an inspirational teacher. 

À la prochaine!


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