Saturday, June 9, 2012

Difference between truthiness, and truth

Stephen Colbert is one funny guy who pokes fun at conservatives (which I would label myself as one, albeit a moderate conservative), but I get his humor, and I laugh just as hard at his jokes. However, he has some much deeper messages once you look past the facade of the pundit, and start applying some critical thinking.

One such topic is the difference between truthiness, and truth. Watch it first.

What have you learned?

Friday, June 8, 2012

"Absolutely Free Forever", or the Zero-Risk Bias

Honest Abe
Honest Abe (Photo credit: jeff_golden)
Human naturally avoid risk. It is part of our survival instinct. It also leads us to "conserve" our own resources. However, this also leads us to make the WRONG decisions when presented the data presented in a certain way to APPEAR as if risk is lower.

For example, let's say I give you two scenarios, and ask you to pick one:

1) I give you $50, then flip a coin. if it's heads, I take back the $50.

2) I flip a coin. If it's tails, I give you $50.

Which one would you pick?

Majority of "you" will pick option 2, even though the odds are exactly the same: 50% of getting $50. People AVOID the idea of "losing". There's a chance of "losing" in option 1, thus people avoid that.

But there's more....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bad argument:"Sour grapes" argument and variants

"White" table grapes
"White" table grapes. Are they "sour"?
Do MLMers believe all critics are "sour grapes"?
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When members of a particular "opportunity" sees criticism leveled at their scheme, many of them are not interested in reading the criticism to see if truth was offered and logic used. Instead, they automatically and reflexively conclude that it must have been written by "enemies" (we'll discuss "imaginary enemies" in the future).

Once they decided that they have an "enemy", they have to attribute some sort of a "motivation" to the enemy as they usually have no evidence to defend against the logic and evidence presented. So they will proceed to INVENT some motivation for their "enemy", the critic, thus creating a circular argument: You hate _____ because you hate _____.

One of the most often imagined reason for a critic to exist is "sour grapes", i.e. jealousy or disgruntlement. The member somehow believed that the critic is jealous of their success, so must attack their success. Here is an example:
[responding to an article that discuss how ZeekRewards is not what it appears to be]
Karina wrote: ... So I think you are just plain jealous that people are making money while you are not or you are making big money anonymously at Zeek rewards yourself! 
Not only did Karina use "sour grapes" (i.e. you're just jealous), she also tossed in "you are probably profiting from whatever you are criticizing any way!"  It's a random accusation, ad hominem attack.

There are several variants to the "sour grapes" argument, all of them involving IMAGINED motivation of the critic.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The "It's legal until they catch us" argument

A typical speed limit sign in the United State...
A typical speed limit sign in the United States showing a 50 mph restriction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When critics have exhaustively answered every fallacy, bad excuse, erroneous evidence, and other tricks the defenders tried to use (knowingly or not), some will pull out the final explanation:
"Until convicted in court, the business is legal."
Unfortunately, that's a fallacy too.

The problem here is what constitute "guilty", and what is its opposite, innocent, or in terms of business, illegal vs. legal. When they mean "legal", they actually mean "not convicted of a crime".

That is a fallacy of equivocation or strawman, depending on how you interpret the situation.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The self-review fakery: How one fake review claimed to be great

I previously wrote a review of the ZeekRewards opportunity and concluded it is a disguised Ponzi scheme.  And I welcome any and all corrections and comments except obvious spam.

Well, I got one, from a guy name "Phelix", who claimed it's a "great review".

Turns out, I've been suckered in posting a link by a Zeek spammer.

What harm can your interest in income opportunity do? Quite a bit, actually.

There are a few readers who insist that it is perfectly safe to share their personal information with a certain company who won't even reveal their executives' names or their owner's names, not to mention they legally exist in three states, so you don't even know who to sue if you *do* want to sue them some day. Their reply to all this concern is usually: what harm can it do? License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Maybe you should read this story on The Verge, where they tracked a couple victims of Internet Marketing scam to all the perps and their mastermind. The victims started innocently with signing up for "free information" and ended on somebody's "sucker list" to be marketed with additional sh__ and other scams. He's paralyzed (physically) and was hoping to EARN money. He's now out of TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars. 

Scamworld: Get Rich Schemes mutate into an online monster

As people who fell for this "company" handed over all their contact info, and is now being requested to hand over a scan of their PHOTO ID (in the interest of "weeding out fakers") they are now in danger of identify theft in addition being added to some mailing list as a potential sucker for every sort of scheme out there. 

Think about that the next time you join one of these "opportunities". 
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 4, 2012

MLM basic: why is MLM not a pyramid scheme?

In studying MLM for several years, it has been my experience that vast MAJORITY of people in MLM have NO BASIC CONCEPT of what a pyramid scheme is. They hear some super-short summary of denial by their upline on how their MLM is NOT a pyramid scheme, and they take that at face value, without ANY fact checking.

So consider this a basic education, what is a pyramid scheme, how similar is network marketing to pyramid scheme, why is network marketing legal while pyramid scheme is not?

First of all, a pyramid scheme is an ILLEGAL BUSINESS MODEL, where the primary emphasis is on recruiting people, and have them put money into the system, so people on top of the pyramid can take money out and reap the rewards.

The simplest and most used example is the 8-ball scam, i.e. airplane game.

A simple binary tree diagram illustrating the ...
A simple binary tree diagram illustrating the hierarchical structure of a multi-level marketing compensation plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the airplane game, i.e. 8-ball scam, you originally starts as one of the red balls at the very bottom. Your upline (not your direct upline, who's a level above you) needs bodies to full all the red ball spots. Once it's filled, he's "done", "cycled out", gets the reward. Maybe he can join someone else's game and start over from the bottom.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Don't avoid dream-stealers (and beware of any one who tell you to)

I have encountered any so-called "leaders" in various schemes, and one common factor is their dismissal of any and all criticism as "negativity" to be avoided. (Unless, of course, they choose to address such criticisms by using one of the many fallacies and fake arguments discussed earlier.)

In order to deflect criticism and maintain a positive attitude toward their pet scheme by all their followers, such a leader will often issue an edict: "avoid the dreamstealers". To them, the dreamstealers are out to steal the dream of success from their members. The dreamstealers will always say no, and are a plague to be avoided.

This is wrong on so many levels, we'll discuss that in a separate article. However, there are a couple different aspects we need to address:

Failure to separate cynic from skeptic

One of the so-called negativity avoidance is reflexive dismissal of ALL questions as fear and doubt, even constructive criticism. In other words, skeptics are lumped together with cynics.

Leader: We will succeed!
Cynic: No you won't.
Skeptic: How will you succeed and why?

In the so-called leader's mind (and those of his followers), there is no separation between skeptic and cynic. It is "us" vs. "them". Reasonable questions are to be dismissed with emotion (indignance).