Monday, November 26, 2012

Bad Argument: The Half-Lie

Many of the "Bag Arguments" we've covered before are outright lies, logical fallacies, or red herrings. However, there is another kind of lie: the half-lie.

A half-lie is basically something that is partially true, and partially false, but you don't know which part is real, and which part is not real, and when the whole thing was presented as real, you'd assume that it really is real... never suspecting that part of it is not.

Here's an example... Has everybody heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA? Founded by William G "Bill" Wilson? Their main book is simply called "The Big Book", and inside are tons of advice not only for the alcoholic him- or herself, but also for all the people around him or her. Here are some quotes:

As wives of Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can. We want to analyze mistakes we have made.A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 104.
Sometimes there were other women. How heartbreaking was this discovery; how cruel to be told that they understood our men as we did not!A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 106.
Okay, this is obviously written by the wife of Bill Wilson, Lois Wilson, right?

Wrong. Bill Wilson wrote it himself, from the POV of his wife. Later truth emerged that Lois did not write a single word, despite volunteering to do so. Apparently Bill didn't trust his own wife to write properly.

By omitting the truth (that this "wife to wife" advice was NOT written by a wife at all), the advice is now of dubious value.

And it wouldn't surprise you that a lot of Scam, MLM, and Ponzi propaganda work the same way through recruiters and shills.

A recruiter clearly is out to recruit.  They are part of my "6 types of MLMers" identified earlier. The problem is, are they really telling you the whole truth when they recruit? Very often, they gloss right over the IMPORTANT parts, like amount of time and money you need to "invest" into a MLM before you "succeed".

In one example, the training literature basically says unless you are willing to spend at least $10,000 dollars and six months of your life (while earning nothing, but working almost full-time in "building your business"), you should not join this famous (infamous?) MLM. However, the upline had (conveniently?) skipped over this section in her recruitment speech. When the money ran out, the now starving associate was told "you didn't work hard enough" or the equivalent.

Recruiters in the more pyramid-style schemes are often willing to say almost ANYTHING to score a recruit, but most will simply repeat whatever they've been told without any fact checking. The more "creative" ones will mix in some truth with some lies in order to come up with pretty elaborate but bogus explanations.


So what is a shill?
Shill typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that he is an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) for whom he is secretly working.  (Wikipedia)
Shills can be employed in a variety of ways, and in MLM, virtually EVERYBODY who don't identify themselves is probably a shill. 

In an auction, shill bidders submit bogus bids just to drive up the prices. 

In seminars selling something, shills are the ones who run up first waving money to buy the products, hoping they'll force the undecided to act (esp. when coupled with "limited time offer, limited quantity available")

In MLM, the shills are often the ones who pretends to "review" a MLM, and/or tell you "[MLM Company Name] Scam? No!" 


So how do you spot a half-lie?

You should presume most information is crap unless proven otherwise, and you need to keep your "crap detector" tuned. Half-lies are crap, albeit nice-looking crap. It will take a tuned crap detector to pick it up.

Only accept information that is NOT crap, obviously, lest you ENJOY putting crap in your brain.

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