Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Con Man Apprenticeship: Fallacious Arguments--Part IV, Con Man / Politician Similarities

--Close to Election, It's Time to close out With this Noteworthy Identity Association

Change, reform, get it done now, cut costs, save money. At every election period the same chant. Over and over and over. Election after election after election. Ad nauseam. Apparently the multitudes of politicians and con men who utter these words are totally unaware of Cheop's Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or under budget.

Yet, here are some of the tactics--used every election cycle--that are used to make you believe they--the con artists and politicians--are the Messiahs, the ones who can perform such miracles.

> Argument by personal charm. Good example was the 2006 California Governor;s' race between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Angeledies. Arnold's persona not only included pure charisma, but sex appeal Angelidies, in contrast, along with his dry rot demeanor, perfectly fit the old accountant joke: What does an accountant use for birth control? Answer: His personality.

> Create trust Everybody and their cousin wants to be part of the "Winning Team," even if they don't know what this winning team is, or what it stands for. An outpouring of personal charm does it. And a desire to please this highly admired candidate / con man is a big part of this, no matter the policy position or platform. As Yogi Berra said, 90% of the game is half mental.

> Appeal to pity. "You can't send me to prison for murdering my mother with an ax. I've already suffered enough through being an orphan." The old theory of, if it doesn't make any sense to begin with, make even less sense of it, and see what happens.

> Accuse your opponent of personal attacks. In politics, particularly, this always works. Accusation: Your pothole filling project is a waste of taxpayer money. Defense: Just because I hit a pothole and broke my neck, you can't stop these personal attacks against me. Accusation: If grades one through five rank 19th in the world, we need help from private schools. Defense: Just because my 8 year old flunked the 1st grade 3 times you use this for a personal attack. Accusation: We don't need a missile defense. Defense: Just because my son mans one, you use this as a personal attack against the character of my family.

> Reasoning in a circle, or, the Catch 22 question "The stock market fell because of a technical adjustment." Or, did the technical adjustment cause the stock market to fall? If you don't like the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question. Under "Reasoning in a Circle," your answer is unlikely to be a straight one.

> "Expert" status. This status is usually achieved by the most proficient BS artist in the room. Implication is that the "expert" knowledge presented is priceless, and the speaker's willingness to share his expertise is admirable. While slavish admiration devours you, while playing the sycophant in slurping up with zeal everything that is said, always remember the sacrosanct Rule of the Great: When someone you greatly admire and respect appears to be thinking deep thoughts, he is probably thinking about lunch.

For many of you who think the TV Show, Desperate Housewives, represents the typical American family, politics, as practiced, might seem quite normal to you.
But most realize that it only takes a little experience to upset a theory.. Thankfully.

For some reason, strangely, the best politician can sometimes, too, be like the famous TV star: Peter Falk's Detective Colombo, without the charm. After all, being discerning is the most important talent of them all. They all have one thing in common: Doing all the wrong things, for the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Con Men Apprenticeship: Fallacious Arguments, Con Man / Politician Similarities--Part III

--Mastery of these are Essential to Good Con Artistry

You could ask, if Fed Ex and UPS merged, would we call it Fed UP? That's kind of the same sort of question we must ask ourselves about the apparent merger of con men's and politician's thinking, arguments, lingo, and general practice.

What are these fallacious arguments? Here's a listing which you must master in order to earn your spurs as a skilled Con Man / Politician.

> Ad hominem attacks: "My opponent, Senator Foghorn, could know nothing about space travel as he brags in his book, because his great, great grandfather traveled west in a covered wagon." When in doubt leapfrog the issue.

> Argument by needling: Another form of ad hominem attack is to make your opponent angry. Simple insults will usually do it, but can easily be reinforced by interrupting, clowning around to show disrespect, being noisy, failing to pass the microphone if in a debate. Generally, making a horse's ass of yourself is one of the easiest argument forms to employ. To justify such obnoxious behavior, merely ask yourself, If you wear your heart on your sleeve, where do you display your other bodily parts?

> Attack a caricatured version of your opponent's position. "Senator Foghorn says we should not fund the Lower Slobovian Army:; can you understand why he wants to leave us all defenseless like this?" When in doubt, create a huge chasm of stupefying disbelief.

> Argument by conflict: Scientific debate on global warming is so split that it must mean that everybody is wrong, and perhaps we should worry about global cooling instead. When in doubt, totally distort.

> Appeal to fear, with mass-application. A sexual utterance in the work place must be stopped because, if not, all men will become foul-mouthed in the work place. When in doubt, muddle and magnify the issue to cover hordes of people and imply a mass dash into a new sin.

> Bifurcation: Assumption of only 2 alternatives when, in fact, there are more. "It's war or peace in Lower Slobovia." How about a truce, a UN Peacekeeping Force, an armistice (like the DMZ in Korea for the past 55 years)?

> Burden of Proof Argument. Claim that what has not been proven true must be false, and vice versa. How about absence of evidence? Is this evidence of absence? The Burden of Proof Argument carries delightful possibilities to create every sort of confusion imaginable.

> Argument by question. The questioner has a big advantage in a debate. It usually takes less time to ask a question than to answer it. And, questions can be phrased to make the answerer look like a fool with his response. "Senator Foghorn, why are you against increasing the minimum wage for starving teenagers?" How can Senator Foghorn win, no matter what answer he comes up with?

> Argument from age. Products labeled New! Improved! These appeal to the belief that innovation is of value for such products, whatever the circumstances. How about a doubling of the capital gains tax? Is this really New? Improved?

> Argument by slogan. Of special value when you can get your audience to chant your slogan. (The kickoff can be from pre-planted shills in your audience who can also stimulate laughter, applause--the live equivalent of a TV laugh track--as well as begin the chant of a slogan). "Change, change, change." "Fight for Lower Slobovia." "Clean up Washington." "Throw the rascals out." "No more blow-outs for Senator Foghorn." On and on. On and on. On and on. Ad nauseous.

Now, with you back to being the recipient of these "Sunday punches," remember:
These people are so gifted that they can throw your belief system into a state of prolonged levitation--just long enough to con you out of your money, or get themselves elected.

This--the political Silly Season--is therefore the Season to be extra aware of your presence of mind, have an extra-firm grip on your wallet, and a deaf ear to all strictly emotional appeals.

You will be nothing but healthier, wealthier, and wiser for it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Con Men Buzzwords Serve as Tip-Offs, Warnings: Watch for similarities to Politicians' Antics

--In every Area of Business, Con Men-type Warning Signs are Flashing--Buzzwords and Catch Phrases--for You to Pick Up On, and Benefit From, in Protecting Yourself from Financial Losses, and from Politicians' Con Games

It's a fact: 100% of all people who eat carrots die.

It's this kind of unarguable certainty with which sales persons (con men?) in all areas of commerce try to hit you up. They constantly lob buzzwords at you--to compel you to buy. Never offend people with substance when you can offend them with style. This seems to be the credo by which many of these sales persons (con men?) live. (Politicians too?)

Here are some examples:

> It's free? What's free? Is it a "Free Lunch?" Must you pay shipping and handling? A redemption fee? Gift, or other tax? Buy 2, get a 3rd free? There are all kinds of "Free" offers that do not match up with that word as we know it. Keep in mind the Second Rule of Band Practice: Noise is not music.

> It's 50% off. Off what? Manufacturer's suggested price? Regular retail? Bulk price? Sticker price? This is usually nothing more than an attempt to make everyday business propaganda sound like folksy truisms... A con men specialty. Even when things go wrong, having to eat their words never seems to give them indigestion.

> It's a Going out of business sale. Particularly stores in Manhattan, N.Y.C. have been going out of business for years They are prime examples. Be careful. When true, where are you going to take that laptop for repair, if and when needed,? Is your warranty really worth the paper it's printed on? Read your warranty carefully. The bold print giveth, the fine print taketh away. Complex problems have simple, easy to understand wrong answers.

> We will not be undersold; we will match the lowest price in town?
Are you really going to run around town, to 6 different stores, to check out whether you can save $2.95 on that $29.95 toothpick sharpener you wish to buy? They (con men?) know that the easiest way for you to find a lost item is to buy a replacement, and are playing on this fear. In reality they know that 95% of their customers are not going to bother.

Sounds good, though, doesn't it? Gives you more faith in the uprightness, honor, integrity, and honesty of the merchant. Good PR for them. (And, especially great for politicians.) This warranty is about as valuable to you as insurance that covers everything except what happens.

> You've just won. Won what? Did you even enter?--to give yourself a chance to "win?" Most common are those low cost vacation trips. How about charges for all the extras? Often substantial. It's the vacation rip-offs that have served as a template for all the other "You've just won" con games. A rudimentary premise underscores this "pitch." Taken from Carson's Law: It's better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick. (Particularly a great ploy to line up legions of suckers to back a political candidate.)

> Work at home; make a fortune. Yeah!
Sure! How many self-made millionaires do you know who amassed their fortunes by stuffing envelopes at their kitchen tables?
As Forest Gump's mother said: Stupid is as Stupid does (For politicians the wrinkle is:
Sit at home by your telephone, call all your friends and relatives, get them to promise to vote even if you have to line up transportation to get them to the polls. The most successful of these are moved on up into the party political apparatus so that they might participate in future graft, like signing up felons,, dead people, and fictitious names--in return for bigger monetary rewards out of the "walking around" money.)

> We have an IRS-endorsed retirement plan. The only thing the IRS heartily endorses is the collection of every last drop of blood from you at tax time. Failing this, about the only further thing they would endorse is confiscation of all your worldly goods and a stiff prison sentence for you. Don't believe any of this "IRS-endorsed" hogwash All foam, no beer. If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions are not likely to be very good.

In sum: Never buy anything while talking to a salesman.

If you stay fully aware that hypocrisy is the Vaseline of social intercourse, you will always be in a better position to protect yourself from rip-offs of every kind--by delaying a decision until you've had ample time to review, reflect.

Sadly, many of these day-to-day offerings are as valid as a supermarket tabloid news story about a space alien having sex with a vacuum cleaner.

It's a fact: 100% of people who carefully question, ponder, investigate, and evaluate, make better decisions.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Con Man's and Politician's 10 Commandments

--Rules the Con Man--and / or Politician-- Must Follow in order to Bend a Group of Suckers to the Desired Will

If there are 12 clowns in a circus ring, you can jump into the middle and start reciting Shakespeare, and, to the audience, you'll only be the 13th clown. This is an advantage of basic psychology which both the con man and politician must jealously guard.

This is the conundrum the con man must engage whenever he is putting a group of people together to foist off a large scale scam. There will always be the odd-ball or 3 who simply do not fit in. And, if he permits them a forum, these few could conceivably destroy his con game. By all means he must keep his flock restricted to clowns.

Now, drop yourself into the role of the con man. Where do you go from here?

You must identify these malcontents quickly so you can properly steer your wrath--paint them as the enemy, so you can profit from their rebellion. Exposing them can put you in good stead with your flock. You must put these select victims in a position where they are waiting for a wake up call, make them feel like: If they died, they would want to come back as a plant, so somebody would talk to them.

Your overall training program will isolate and ferret out these people. This is where the Con Man's 10 Commandments come in. These are as follows:

1) Thou Must not Permiteth Self-Esteem. Start out by trampling all semblances of self-esteem. Like a cult, this must be replaced by total dependence upon you.
Make your intelligence burn like a fever, at a high level of incandescence in the eyes of your flock,. Tell them you're easy to get along with, once they learn to worship you.

2) Teacheth Separation and Conflict. Always remember the tried and true rule, "Divide and Conquer." Promote elitism, duality, divisiveness, competition, segregation--by gender, race, religion, etc.--and yes / no thinking. (I'm right, therefore, everyone else is wrong. There it is. Clear and simple.) Get your flock so confused about the normal concepts of right and wrong that they can only ask: Is it time for your medication or mine? A little ambiguity never hurt anyone. Politicians are as gifted as con men at this.

3) Programeth your Flock. Promote "sheep-think." They must not think for themselves. They must rely on you, solely, to tell them what to think.. This works well with people who believe all of life's answers are on TV.

4) Promoteth Controversy. Controversy sells. It's conflict and divisiveness that induce high emotion--the desired state you need to reprogram your group. Make your victims demand that which you wish to impose on them. With Evangelistic fervor, fire them up--a major tune up, like putting Richard Simmons on steroids to attain a higher energy level.

5) Promoteth Scarcity for your Enemies, Abundance for your Friends. The ideal route must be "total benefit" as your goal--affluence and abundance for you and your followers. And, total triumph over your enemies--as you deprive them of everything, including their integrity and dignity--so they can be discarded on the scrapheap of humiliation and defeat. If you can manage it, impoverish them to the point they will consider dinner at Chuck E. Cheese a gourmet meal.

6) Only Your Philosophy Prevaileth. Your philosophy is the only correct one.
Even if it makes no more sense than saying sis boom bah is the sound a sheep makes when it explodes, it is essential to hammer home your philosophy. Make your sucker group thoroughly understand that they are never to argue with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room, You, as the organ grinder, must maintain this severity of iron grip on your flock.

Now that your few opposing odd-balls are "set up," you must devote great effort to embarrassing , humiliating and destroying them. Follow John's Axiom: When your opponent is down, kick him. These Last 4 Commandments have to do with this important task.

7) Attacketh Dissenters with Gusto. Discredit them. Pick one heretic to attack particularly viciously, then publicize the destruction as an "example" to your loyal flock. This, to discourage others from disloyalty, as well as to gain admiration for your decisiveness and leadership.

8) Telleth a Lie, Loud Enough, Long Enough, Often Enough And people will believe it. (Thus speaketh Adolph Hitler.) This credo is necessary to smoking out your malcontents, Christians do not refer to the cross as "The Big T." But, you must make your flock want to crucify these dissenting louts with such fervor.

9) Employeth the "Scapegoat Principle." If getting caught is a looming reality and must be handled before it fully blossoms, simply sacrifice a low-level dunce, or a higher up victim who is a potential trouble maker. He who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can blame.

10) Appealeth to Emotion. Every time emotion and reason clash, always forget reason and appeal to emotion. Even if this appeal defies common sense and logic, your sucker-group--as long as you have conditioned them properly--will go along. and, it will keep your malcontents off balance. If asked, be ready to tell any of your disciples why sheep don't shrink in the rain, and you will have gone a long way in con artistry--an applaudable achievement.

Once you have driven your sucker-group to the extreme of saying, I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize, you've reached your goal Now, like a politician, it's time to back-off, soft peddle, and start ringing up the cash register with their generous contributions and / or votes.

Remember "evil" is "live" spelled backwards.
Simply tell yourself, in 2 days tomorrow will be yesterday, and pack off to find a new group of suckers.