Thursday, July 26, 2012

The "Why don't you ask us" fallacy

One retort from defenders of suspect schemes, when faced with criticism, is often the "why don't you ask us?" Here is an example:
A: Acme XYZ is a scam because of ___, ___, and ____.
B: Acme XYZ is not a scam! Why don't you just ask us? We're perfectly happy! We're not being scammed! 
This is considered a red herring. It claims to prove the "not a scam" viewpoint, but in reality has nothing to do with it.

Does a scam victim feel scammed? The answer is: only AFTER they REALIZE they are in a scam.

If you ask a drug addict what he thinks about his dealer, it'll depend on his needs: is he trying to QUIT, or does he need a fix?

If he needs a fix, the dealer is his best friend. If he wants to quit, the dealer is the devil.

Thus, asking the members in a suspect scheme is NOT a good way determine whether it's a scam or not.

There is also the "sunken cost fallacy" to consider. If you had put a money into a suspect scheme, you will WANT to see the scheme succeed *because* you have invested in it in terms of money, time, effort, and even social capital (tried to convince others to join). You are now PERSONALLY involved and you'll take the scheme's success or failure PERSONALLY.

So if I tell you your scheme is suspect and may fail, because you are taking things PERSONALLY, you'll reject my logical premise BECAUSE of you are personally involved. YOU have a CONFLICT OF INTEREST.  You are no longer evaluating my advice with logic, but with EMOTION.

A cruder version... "You're thinking with your balls, not with your brain."

Thus, asking you would not have revealed the truth. You are not objective enough to evaluate the truth.

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