Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reality Inversion: When the Absurd is Normal, and vice versa

What is reality inversion? It is when the absurd seem normal, and normal seem absurd.

Very often, when someone falls for a scam, what appears absurd to us ("How *could* you fall for something that idiotic?") would seem perfectly normal to them, mainly because their reality had been... inverted. To the people who had their reality inverted, it is the absurd world of the scammer that seem normal, and the "real" world that seem weird.

Examples are easy to find. Let's take a recent example... the Zeek Rewards Ponzi. 

The reality: there is no easy money. Any one promising easy money is very likely a scam 

The absurd: Getting easy money is EASY! Pay us up to 10000 at a time1 You get to take back out up to 1.5% every day subject to our esoteric rules. Just do something everyday so simple a child can do it in minutes! 

It's obviously too good to be true, yet MILLIONS of people had their reality subverted into believing that easy money *does* exist, that you can pay a company money and earn a return and was told it's NOT an investment, and when they had problems paying all sorts of excuses were believed. Even after the scam was shut down by the SEC, those who got more money out than they put in persist in believing they had earned the money "legitimately". 

That is reality inversion. 

And scammers are very good at reality inversion: convincing the victims that giving them money is actually EARNING money; that you should pay for something that's free; that investment is NOT an investment; and a scam is NOT a scam (even though it fits the definition of the law). 

Reality inversion does not have to do with something that's so obviously illegal, but can be done with something PERFECTLY LEGAL... such as convincing you to pay for something that should have been free. 

Convincing you to pay for something that's free or much lower cost is actually perfect legal. Advertisers do that all the time. 

For example, Tylenol. It's just Acetaminophen, a drug that's been generic for decades, yet Tylenol is still around, and still selling at its premium price that's quite a bit more expensive than the generic stuff. Why? Because of its brandname and the trust that the brand had built... due to its quality control and its advertising. If it has any problems, it quickly did recalls, scrap the lot, and ate the losses. The only problem Tylenol had in recent years was it had used a set of gelatin It values its brand, and people like the brand. 

However, asking you to pay for something you can actually get elsewhere for lower cost (or even free) is very likely a scam.

One scam that I've seen before is asking for $100 using very official looking envelope and forms with loud claims that "not filing may subject you to penalties and fines" to file something that you can do yourself for $25. It's misleading enough that postal inspectors slapped a couple of these fakes with mail fraud and laws are passed that require clear labels stating on the envelope "not an official government agency notice". 

If you believe that, you basically pay $100 for something that should have cost $25. 

But what about paying for something that you should have gotten paid for? That happens to quite a few articles. 

The reality: nobody pays to have articles hosted. You can pay for a professional strength webhosting, NOT merely a BLOG. And even then, such hosting is only a few dollars a month. And it would have your own domain name and design to build YOUR personal brand. Furthermore, many websites, such as Hubpages and Squidoo, PAY YOU for hosting your content there by giving you a split of the ad revenues, if you can create content that people want to read.

The absurd: paying someone DOUBLE or TRIPLE the price of professional strength hosting ($25 a month), to put a huge ad (unrelated to your content) that had to be scrolled off the screen before you see your article, for a regular Wordpress blog platform.

Now, you'd ask, WHY would anybody PAY someone for article publishing when they should GET PAID for article publishing?

The answer is: you get paid if you manage to sell this "hosting package" to other people.

In other words, you had to be STUPID to sign up, and you can make money if you sign up MORE stupid people.

Or maybe you're not that stupid, you just like recruiting stupid people to make your money.

In that case, who's the scammer?

If you're wondering, this is a real business.

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