THE CONFIDENCE GAME—Maria Konnikova

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!

Konnikova

** Buy it at Amazon
** On GoodReads
** New York Times Review
** Eight-minute YouTube Review (along with some nifty links)
**  YouTube Interview with Maria (and many more)
** Author Website
** SUPERSTITION sung by Macy Gray

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.