Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scam Artists Promote Crackpot Genius--And Society Lets Them Get Away With It

--Scam Artists' Conspiracy Theories, Loony Scams, and Social Recognition Make for a Lethal Mix--Generally Accepted by a Laid-Back Public

Louis Pasteur was run out of medical school for advancing the thesis that life forms too small to be seen were responsible for disease. Galileo was imprisoned for life for expounding the thought that the earth was round. Einstein was tossed out of grade school as irredeemably unteachable.

At one time these revolutionary history-makers were assigned a place in their respective societies among the "Lunatic Fringe." Today, scam artists everywhere cash in on a slight variation--pawn themselves off as "eccentric geniuses"--knowing this has great appeal to the masses: those throngs of people from all walks of life who live "inside the box," the multitudes who nod their heads and walk in a straight line. Long memories of past glory loom over these seeming Pied Piper-led parades led by the scam artists.

How does the polished scam artist of today turn such eccentricity to his advantage? Let us count the ways. Here a few of the rules he follows:

> Always push the conspiracy theory over boring conventionalism. This, to better carry off your charade as an "Eccentric Genius." This must be a very dedicated, targeted campaign on your part. You must be like the Hit Man, fiercely concentrating, looking to whack a buck-toothed beaver..

> In keeping with this self-portrait, never accept the Laws of mainstream science. (Gravity, maybe. Nothing else.) You've got your very own (crackpot) science to sell.

> Never stay put on one topic too long. If you do, you risk being challenged to provide annoying things such as "proof" Use "what if" scenarios wherever possible--to change the subject Steer the conversation to another area--inspired hogwash, anything mind-numbingly dull.
Don't forget, a lie, often repeated with rapid fire motion, hammered home, quickly becomes the truth.

> Take a page from the book of Mr. Spock of the old Star Trek series. Adopt his vocabulary. Throw in additional sci-babble used by the Romulans and Klingons. To the layman, this seeming scientific mastery will captivate.

> Always accuse your detractors of being closed minded. This will bring your flock closer to you. After all, your flock will be made up, largely, of people who pride themselves on their open mindedness, and will, thus, automatically reject those party poopers who demand evidence for everything.

> Get a fake degree from one of the many vendors of these, preferably an MBA, or a Doctorate. Wave the superior intellect and wisdom your advanced degree bestows upon you over your adversaries' heads. Make them see the relative stupidity of their own positions--in comparison to yours--and accept humility and blind allegiance to your ideas as the "only way."

> Always cite anything you read on the internet as fact. Your worldly wisdom, gained through your internet prowess, will impress your flock no end.

> Use the word quantum often (Quantum leaps. Quantum regression. Quantum exponentiality.) This will make you sound very scientific.

> Preach Better Living Through Denial.
This would be largely denial of your followers' money--remaining in their own pockets, that is--because they would be giving it to you.

> Make sure all documents employed are loaded with eyeball-bleeding fine print, containing all the best elements of your shakedown. Use legalese out the wazoo--to confuse, distort, cajole, obfuscate, and close the sale.

These are just a few of the tactics you--as recipient of these sales pitches--will run into when dealing with the accomplished scam artist. When you can cut through all of the freeze-dried platitudes, realize that if you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody, and can ferret out the whimsical aberrations of iffy reasoning you've heard (All trees have bark; all dogs bark; therefore all dogs are trees), don't walk, run like a frightened bush bunny for the nearest exit.


Gene Kranik said...

Hey Jack slow down. I missed your last post. Guess I have to sign up for your RSS feed.

Earl T. Clydson said...

Now I've heard it all. The twisted minds of these people beat all logic. Everything they do seems to be plucked from the nether world of the criminally insane. How bad can it get?

I'm like Gene, I don't want to miss any of this controlled madness these people practice, so I just signed up for your RSS feed.

Jack Payne said...

Yeah, Gene, I'm trying to speed up a little, get more posts out. I've been dragging for a long, long time with only about one a week. Gotta do better than that.

If you think this is a twister, Earl, wait till you see the piece I'm working on now. It will be up in the next few weeks, and has to do with creating "divisiveness" as key to setting up these conspiracy theory type scams. It examines every angle, in depth.

Some would say these tactics are similar to those used by politicians in this political "Silly Season" we are now in.
As are some of the tactics shown in this post. Read closely.

timethief said...

Wow! Every time I visit I leave howling with laughter. You are a talented writer with a great sense of humor.

I can't wait for your piece on conspiracy theory scams. Deniers and distrators, deluders and deceivers are legion. It's another day in paradise.

Ariel J said...

You have written some good blogs on con artists, Jack, but this is the best. Give us more.

~Static~ said...

I know just who you are referring to when you mention the Lunatic Fringe scam artist. Whacking buck-toothed beavers with hammers everywhere he goes. You're speaking of former presidential candidate Fred Thompson...

Hoover Family said...

The psychological angles jump right out at you, and outrageous as they are evidently have real effect. This is so hard to understand, because they are so outrageous. This sure does not say much for the gullibility-resistance fator of the general population, does it?

Jack Payne said...

I like to make running comments as I write all this con man stuff. And, you're right, T.T., I do like to inject a little light-heartedness as I go.

No, I think you're wrong, Ariel. The best blog post I ever put up was ""24 Amazing Scam Artists' Conflict Resolution Steps." This is the one that was selected as a Google Blog of the Day last September. You'll have to dig in the Archives to find it. Look in the September, 2007, Posts.

Static, your sense of humor is sheer lunacy, but I love every last ounce of it. Don't hold back for a minute.

Just as you say, Art, the gullibility-resistance levels-- to all these scams-- is so pitifully weak that it's discouraging indeed.
You've think that simple, plain old commons sense would hold sway more in judging these fool things--but this does not seem to be the case.

Bern said...

Earl, that was quite an oxymoron you came up with there, "controlled madness." But, you know, it fits. The scam artists methods seem like madness, yet they are so well organized, so well controlled, that that's the way it comes out.

Terry said...

Jack, this post does scintillate, but nothing can stand up to your book. Steve Draves, in your Six Hours Past Thursday book is the ultimate con man because he scams legally. This has got to be the best of the best con men around...anybody can be a crook. And the way you portray him, this is the ultimate psychological portrayal I believe of what a can man is all about.

machinehuman said...

What a lethal mix! And don't forget the very effective Eyeball-bleeding fine print. It works like a charm.
Another great post jack.

One Talent Man said...

where's your blog on ARMs please.

Jack Payne said...

That's about it, Terry. When I wrote Six Hours Past Thursday I tried to combine all of the "best" elements of a con man personality, and incorporate these into a version who was so good that he could engage in con games that were LEGAL.
And, it's when you read about how someone THIS good does it, well, it should be enough to scare the pants off you.

Machine Human, I guess the stategy and tactics used by con men in Brazil are much the same as those practiced by con men the world over. The U.S. certainly does not have a monopoly on these talents.

You have only to scroll back a short way, One Talent Man, for a complete unravelling of my thoughts on ARMs. I covered this in my post of April 18.

StaidlySons said...

All trees have bark...all dogs bark...therefore all dogs are trees? Oh, come on you've gone too far.

One Talent Man said...

You should see how banks and brokers employ these tactics in India.

Kevin Goodman said...

Kudos Jack Kudos

Always interesting (except the taxes – informative, but say the word and I am sleeping) but today I was laughing. I love your satirical how to’s –very brilliant.

GraceMags said...

this is a great piece jack. i just loved every bit of it! :)

Dee said...

Static when I read this the first person (thing) that came to mind was Ron Hubbard closely followed by Tom Cruise (Long memories of past glory loom over these Pied Piper led parades).

Hubbard is a science fiction author who founded a church. Guess he discovered that crackpot science did indeed sell.

God Jack you're moving fast and I love it. Careful someone once said, "Never stay put on one topic too long" Heh, heh.

Jack Payne said...

Hey, Staidly, I was just pushing the envelope for a little humor there. A few yuk, yuks never hurt anyone. Right?

Maybe I should give a little closer look to what's going on in India, O.T.M.

Thanks, Kevin, and thanks, Grace. Ah aims to please.

I like your parallel, Dee: Hubbard, Cruise, and the con man. This sure worked, big, didn't it? Also, I have been trying to speed up lately, more posts. But, you know, so many comments have been coming through lately, that this has slowed me down again--just coming back to comment on the comments--like right here and now.

Dolcett said...

I like the similarities you draw Jack, between con men and politicians. I can see so many resemblances.

~Static~ said...

Jack - Thanks. I am a lunatic. And I realize I'm a bit over the top sometimes (ok alot). But at least I'm not a peddling crackpot like Tom Cruise... speaking of which;

Dee - Ron Hubbard came to mind first for me also, however I think he meant well in the beginning (just look at the Flying Spaghetti Monster) but the LSD just warped Ron's mind enough he thought he was a "clear". =)

Therefore, Fred Thompson was a second best since he's the biggest promoter of Middle American delusion. A con disguised as give me all your money & votes so I can fund my campaign of crackpottery.

Can you imagine if he was elected president? It would be like 'Fantasy White House', he'd be Mr. Roarke and Tattoo would be out on the front lawn, "De plane! De plane!" then he would drive around in circles in his personal go-cart, sized for him, and recklessly drive to keep up with Fred for the visitor reception while staff scrambled to get out of their way. I'd hate to think what their foreign policy would end up being...

Terry said...

That's an interesting comparison - Con Men Stagings and the L. Ron Hubbard thing. I like it...right on.

Gene Kranik said...

I just caught up with reading a bunch of posts from your Archives. Jack, you've got some great stuff, but I think this post is about the best. It really gets to the nub of how the con man thinks.

Warmer said...

I was particularly impressed by your urging that the con man use sci-babble. Did you know that you can buy a Klingon dictionary? I imagine this would help enormously.

Terry said...

You had a barn burner of a thread going here a couple of days it has really quieted down. What did you do to scare people away, Jack?

Carmen said...

interesting blog

Swubird said...

Con Man:

Excellent post. Thanks for the tips on how to be a better con man.

I once knew this guy who claimed to be a professional hypnotist. He not only had an act, but he had an office, along with an 80-year old doctor who would refer him cases for weight loss and smoking. That way he could collect the insurance money. One day he asked me to join his operation. He told me that if I paid him $4,000 he would issue me a bonafide Doctorate Degree from his Institute of Hypnosis. The degree would give me all the credibility I needed. He said that patients never checked up on the credentials.

Was I being conned? Yeah!

Great post, as usual.

Have a nice day.

Jack Payne said...

I've got several more pieces coming up that will be drawn even closer to politicians, Lynn. Watch for them.

Static, sorry, but I still don't quite get the L.Ron Hubbard / Fred Thompson connection.

Your hypnotist story is quite interesting, Swu. You'd think he'd have offered a "test" trance, so he could con you while you were under.