Sunday, August 10, 2014

Scam Psychology: The illusion of explanatory depth (especially about MLM)

One phenomenon that initially puzzled the MLMSkeptic is the SEVERE LACK OF UNDERSTANDING by most MLM participants about their own industry. They seem to be completely unaware of the facts, and instead believe in misinformation, such as

  • Harvard Business School teaches/endorses MLM (NO THEY DON'T!)
  • MLM / Network Marketing Created the Most Millionaires (NO THEY DIDN'T!)
  • Having a product means the scheme cannot be a pyramid scheme (WRONG!)

And many more.

It is as if many participants are relying on... "folk wisdom" passed down by their uplines, who are passing misinformation, whether by design or negligence, leading to a game of "telephone" where after a few generations / levels there are no facts left, only misinformation.

That's when I discovered yet another cognitive bias... "the illusion of explanatory depth".

Basically, most people only *think* they know something. This is termed "feeling of knowing" by psychologists, or "FOK". They only follow correlations, and form their own idea about what caused what, even though those can be elaborate ruses or illusions designed to trick them. They actually have NO IDEA how whatever they observed actually works.

Here's one example. Do you know how bicycles work? Are you sure? (Those who can look at a bicycle or ride a bike several times a week can probably skip this test)  Without looking it up, draw the bicycle frame, wheels, where are the pedals, and where does the chain go.

Go ahead, draw it. When ready, click "continue".

Your drawing will probably resemble something like this if you haven't seen a bicycle recently, or actively biked recently:

Before you start laughing, I should tell you that a SIGNIFICANT NUMBER of the public got it wrong. You can read the whole article on "Science of Cyclology"

The point is simple: most people, who have seen bicycles all their lives, have no idea where certain things are or how they work.  That is the power of "illusion of explanatory depth". They *think* they know how bicycle works... until they are asked "so how does it work"? And until they are asked, they have NO IDEA the depth of their ignorance... and their ignorance of their ignorance.

Scams are out there to take full advantage of your illusion. They always present something that "seems" to make sense to you, and to make you feel good and comfortable so you gained a full "feeling of knowing" even though you have no details.  You feel you know how the business works through this illusion, when you don't actually know.

Pyramid schemes are out there to make you an accomplice by having you FEEL you know what the business is, and recruit your friends and family and total strangers because you FEEL the business will be profitable (for you).

The scam is also there to KEEP you ignorant. 

Any one who will ask you questions (and thus, expose your ignorance) are described as "dreamstealers". and are to be AVOIDED in the name of "avoiding negativity".

Any one who persist in asking you questions are characterized as "they don't understand" and you walk away from them, where actually you just invoked "pigeon chess" argument.

Your scam leader are there to stoke your "feeling of knowing", so you don't feel you need to verify what he said with outside independent and verifiable information. Soon, you are solely dependent on your scam leader for all information.

You're basically in a commercial cult.

So what can you do about it? 

1) Ask questions, even if it's to yourself, so you can research them later, AWAY from the leader and the group.

2) Ascertain attitude regarding questions. If the leaders do not tolerate questions, acts dismissive toward questions, or gives technobabble explanations, nod politely and note that too.

3) Seriously consider the possibility that you had been lied to, whether intentionally or through negligence

4) Figure out how things are supposed to work... Both from YOUR end, and from the BUSINESS end. BOTH have to make sense. If only one side makes sense, clearly something is wrong (perhaps your "facts" about the business are wrong)

Don't live an illusion.


1 comment:

  1. Wow. So true, they all take a put up and shut up stance.. better living global marketing style every was a lie..