Friday, September 30, 2016

Bad Argument: Citing Celebrity Endorsement as Evidence despite Celebrities said Some of the Craziest Things

It is a fact that celebrities have said some of the kookiest stuff in public including
There are even dedicated lists of celebrities idiotic comments. Yet celebrity endorsement remains one of the top forms of advertising. Indeed, MLM has repeatedly used celebrity endorsements. Back when Vemma was a thing, Vemma followers have repeated cited association with Dr. Oz, mainly because B K Boreyko, Vemma's founder, had once said it is Dr. Oz's "favorite fatigue fighter." The real truth is Dr. Oz never endorsed Vemma... The linkback is a courtesy because Boreyko is on the board of one of Dr. Oz's charities.  In other MLMs, Both Donald Trump and Ben Carson (candidates for 2016 Presidential Campaign) have had dealings with MLM (ACN and Mannatech respectively).

SIDENOTE: Trump was quoted by Wall Street Journal, "I (Trump) know nothing about the company (ACN) other than the people who run the company, I’m not familiar with what they (ACN) do or how they go about doing it, and I make that clear in my speeches." A ringing endorsement indeed, despite Trump pocketing millions in speaking fees from ACN events. 

MLM itself often tout their "sales leaders" as minor celebrities, complete with big pageantry of award ceremonies and such.  As an example, Mary Kay is well known for its huge spectacles which are deceptively called "seminars" where new sales rep who reach some minimum goal are showered with praise from the crowd. It is very intoxicating and "inspiring".

Mary Kay convention, all the "ruby" folks getting recognized (date unknown)
But what makes celebrities seem to goof up more often? This can't really be merely explained by the spotlight effect, i.e. anything celebrity said is repeated ad infinitum, while a regular person's kook can often be overlooked. It is a factor, but it can't be all that there is.

Other factors at work includes:
  • Luck blindness / Survivorship Bias
  • Dunning-Kruger effect
  • Self-Centered bias
  • Positive reinforcement / confirmation bias / Echo chamber effect

Self-Centered Bias / Luck Blindness / Survivorship Bias

People in general attribute more competence to themselves than they deserve. This is known as self-centered bias. Such people generally deny luck as having a factor (or having only an insignificant one) which is known as luck blindness. They believe whatever they did is what lead to their success, even though there is no basis for that belief. This is known as survivorship bias, as they are the survivors and we don't hear from the people who didn't make it.

When you combine all three of them together, you get inflated ego and belief in one's own infallibility.

Dunning-Kruger Effect / Competence Substitution

Dunning Kruger effect describes how some people are so incompetent, they don't even recognize their incompetence, much less competence in others. In other words "know just enough to be dangerous".  Competence substitution is how a person believes (often mistakenly) that their competence in one area makes them expert in a somewhat related area. For example, a lawyer may come to believe that he can spot a scam due to his knowledge of the law.  A regular businessman may think he can succeed in MLM due to his business experience.

When you combine the two, you got someone who has NO IDEA what they're talking about... and has no idea that s/he has no idea.

Positive Reinforcement / Confirmation Bias / Echo Chamber Effect

Celebrities often have people at their beck and call, and their "managers" are very good in isolating them from the public and negative feedback, but instead, only pass through the positive. This is known as positive reinforcement. If the celebrity already has an ego, they would come to believe only the positive news about them, confirming their beliefs and ignore the negative things. This is confirmation bias. Finally, celebrities only associate with other celebrities, and simply hear the same things over and over, like in an echo chamber, and it leads to a biased world view.

MLM teaches "negativity avoidance" as a fundamental lesson, and treats any sort of criticism or even skepticism as "attacks by dreamstealers". This teaches followers to ignore reality, only accept the positive, and only associate with people who think alike (i.e the team). As a result they reside in a reality distortion field.


When you combine all of the biases and effects above, you end up with someone who is full of themselves, and that is a VERY dangerous combination, both for him-/herself and his/her followers.


1 comment: