Sunday, May 13, 2012

"I still believe", or the "true believer syndrome"

Cover of "The Psychic Mafia"
Cover of The Psychic Mafia
Psychics are believed even after
they admit they were fully
fake. True believers will
ignore facts to continue
to believe. 
Someone who have their loved one recruited into a scam asked, how is it that this scam has such total control over his loved one, so much so that the loved one, even when confronted with evidence that it's a total scam, refuse to accept the truth?

There is an explanation, but there is no solution.

In the book "The Psychic Mafia" (1976) by M. Lamar Keene, a supposed psychic medium named "Raoul", who had many believers, openly admitted to being a complete hoax and fraud. However, many people persist in believing that this psychic is genuine and created various excuses for that statement, like "he was pressured into it" and so on.

The point is proven when James Randi, famous magician and skeptic, in cooperation with an Australia news program, staged a hoax in 1988, where an actor named Jose Alvarez was to "channel" a 2000 year old spirit named "Carlos" in front of live audience, then the entire performance was revealed to be a staged hoax. There was no Carlos. However, many in the audience were not dissuaded.

Randi remarked:
no amount of evidence, no matter how good it is or how much there is of it, is ever going to convince the true believer to the contrary

The same applies to scams. It is more than just an opportunity / scam, it is an IDEOLOGY, and they are the true believers.

True believers really do put their lives and money on the line.

Some Colombians went on hunger strike when their opportunity, Grupo DMG, was shut down by the government in 2008 as a Ponzi scheme. They refuse to believe the government despite evidence. They were eventually convinced to go on living though.

Some Indians, members of an alleged Ponzi scheme called SpeakAsia, formed an association that is actively fighting government investigations and hoping to restart the scheme. They even paid off one of the complainants with their own money to impede the investigation.

And true believers, due to their faith and confidence, can sound extremely convincing to the unwary.

Beware of true believers out to turn you into one.

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