Here is a book I am currently reading called THE CONFIDENCE GAME by Maria Konnikova. In this book Maria talks about psychopaths, con artists, narcissists and Machiavellism. Generally, we get the whole gamut in one package.

The subtitle of Maria’s book is “Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time.” This last bit is one of the most interesting aspects. In her book, she cites a few individuals who did fall for it multiple times. In one instance the person actively pursued the con artist to take his money yet again. We are pretty gullible people—this means everyone!


** Buy it at Amazon
** On GoodReads
** New York Times Review
**  YouTube Interview with Maria (and many more)
** Author Website
** SUPERSTITION sung by Macy Gray
** Charlie Rose Interview with Maria
** Am I a Con Artist?

I find this topic—the con, the scam—rather fascinating. This stems from one of my earlier college majors—psychology. Way back then I had “issues” with Freud and leaned more in the direction of Karl Jung. In fact, I was enrolled in a Jungian program at the time I was drafted. I never went back into psych, but I remain fascinated by it. One reason I never went back, is that I realized that I easily fall for every nutty story and scheme that comes along. This is not good for a clinical psychologist.

Here’s what Maria has to say: “It’s the oldest story ever told. The story of belief—of the basic, irresistible, universal human need to believe in something that gives life meaning, something that reaffirms our view of ourselves, the world, and our place in it. [the genius of the conman] lies in figuring out what, precisely, it is we want, and how they can present themselves as the perfect vehicle for delivering on that desire.”

There is an old saying, “Being forewarned is forearmed.” Unfortunately, that’s not true in most cases. “We get . . . a unique satisfaction from thinking ourselves invulnerable. Who doesn’t enjoy the illicit glimpse into the life of the underworld—and the satisfaction of knowing that clever old you would be smarter than all that . . .”

At least when it comes to fiction, writers tell you up front: none of this is probably true. Still, it’s possible, just the same. Right? That’s what keeps you going. This is what underlies your “suspension of disbelief.” The entire fictive narrative (dream) is about cluing you into something. Then you come away knowing more than when you went in, along with the feeling that now you are “hip” to what’s happening and “it can’t happen to me.” Remember that old song with the refrain, “It can’t happen here”?

As Maria puts it at the end of her introduction: “Everyone will fall for it. The real question is why.”

If you were a fan of The Sopranos (I was a YUGE fan), you probably remember the guy who owned the sporting goods store and what Tony did to him. The “bust out” is what it’s called. Sold everything for peanuts, but Tony kept it all. We see this going on all over the place—just bidnass, nothin’ personal. And it goes on.

We think the regulators will take care of it, watch out for us, etc. But they gone and perhaps they never were in the first place. It was just our imagination–our fictive dream.

Now in tandem with The Confidence Game I am also reading SUSPICIOUS MINDS by Rob Brotherton.

Decoding the psychology of believing in conspiracy theories. We’re all conspiracy theorists–some of us just hide it better than others.

Conspiracy theorists aren’t just a handful of people who wear tin-foil hats and have bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptilian aliens. Conspiracy theories are as likely to appeal to women as to men, college students as to retired professors, middle-class bloggers as to blue-collar workers.

Psychological research sheds light on why some people are more drawn to conspiracy thinking, especially when they feel discontented, distrustful, and desire privileged knowledge. But ultimately we are all natural-born conspiracy theorists. Our brains are wired to see patterns and to weave unrelated data points into complex stories. We instinctively see events in the world in terms of human motives and intentions, leading us to discount the role of chance and unintended consequences, and we look for some hidden hand behind catastrophic events. These psychological quirks can lead us to suspect a conspiracy where none exists.

Conspiracy theories have existed throughout history, from ancient Athens and Rome to present day theories about 9/11 and who shot JFK. Suspicious Minds explores the phenomenon and reveals the important consequences conspiracy theories can have–from discouraging parents from vaccinating their children against deadly diseases to hampering political policies to combat climate change.

** Buy it at Amazon
** On GoodReads
** Author Website