Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Reverse Psychology of Temptation

One way to not fall for scams is avoid the temptation of "easy money", "get-rich-quick schemes", and so on. That basically means keep our inner demons in check and avoid temptation.

What exact is temptation any way?

In terms of MLM and similar "income opportunities", temptation comes in two forms: appeal to greed, and peer pressure (appeal to conformity).

Both are countered through understanding of oneself, and confidence in oneself.

If you hold yourself of high moral fiber, and unwilling to resort to questionable tactics and schemes to earn money (no matter how easy and legal they seem), then you would not be tempted by your own greed.

If you have confidence in yourself, then you would not be affected (much) by peer pressure, such as your friends and family insisting you to join this whatever opportunity.

In both cases, you had made a commitment to yourself, and you are determined to keep it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bad Argument: Creating Straw Issues

English: Karl Rove Assistant to the President,...
English: Karl Rove Assistant to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One political tactic used by Karl Rove (who got Bush multiple terms at the White House, but failed to help Romney) was to create straw issues to deflect attention away from his candidate's weaknesses. The more emotionally charged the straw issue, the better. For example Karl Rove drove wedge issues such as gun control, gay marriage, and abortion, which managed to divide the Democratic voters during the Bush campaigns. Republicans sell "values", while Democrats are merely explaining issues.

[ You can read more about the full Karl Rove campaign tactics here, a PDF file ]

This is often used by scammers to deflect attention from the real questions that need to be asked, by peddling a minor issue, and be very loud about it, then insinuate that this straw issue is the "real deal", when it isn't.

This is an advanced application of a strawman argument: to create an argument that acts as a distraction.

[ Read more about Strawman arguments ]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spotting a Potential Scam is Much Easier Than You Think

Most online scams are not very elaborate, in that they are usually produced by one or two people. They only "seem" big online.

In order to look big, they will often borrow pictures from legitimate sources and relabel them to suit their needs, often with a little help from Photoshop (tm). 

Here are two prime examples:

Exhibit One: Corllins University

Corllins University is not a real university, but a website (one of many) operated by a Pakistani who goes by the name of Salem Kureshi. For a university that doesn't exist, its online presence is quite large, albeit, populated with fake photos. Here's one of them:

This was a screenshot of the Corllins University Facebook timeline, supposedly their graduating class,   originally posted on Consumer Watch of Botswana Blog.  This picture has since been deleted from their timeline. Care to guess why? Because it doesn't belong to Corllins University.  

Here's the real source of the picture:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Danger of Wishful Thinking in MLM (and any other business)

Nate Silver
Nate Silver (Photo credit: jdlasica)
It is now 12-NOV-2012, and President Barack Obama was reelected by a rather large majority of electoral votes. It's not even that close, despite all the Republican pundits and supporters claiming that it's a tie or "dead heat" right up to the end.

When an analyst, Nate Silver, predicted 80-90% chance of Obama reelection, one national talk show host said that any one who don't think it's a tossup (i.e. a tie) should be kept away from the public (so they can't "rig" the election for one side, so he claimed).

Well, Nate Silver was right all along. So who's "eating crow" now? It never was "close".

Some people are just too engaged in wishful thinking. A person engaged in wishful thinking can no longer distinguish what they wish to be true, versus what is true. They simply ignore and insult any information that does not fit their "world view", or "narrative". 

In this case, Republicans are just too sure of themselves, and sees any results or analysis contrary to they wish to be true, as "the enemy" and needs to be silenced. In fact, Karl Rove is known to have expressed incredulity at the results when they came in. He can't BELIEVE his strategy did not work.

You know where else does this happen? In MLM and "income opportunities". Far more often, in fact. After all, new MLMs seem to start every day, while you only get a presidential election every four years.

However, presidential race only affects you indirectly, while what MLM you join will affect you directly. So which is more important to YOUR future?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Magic (and Scam) works: playing with your perceptions

Top hat as an icon for magic
Top hat as an icon for magic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Every seen the "vanishing ball" trick?

The magician throw the ball upward and few times, and catch it in the same hand, and each time his gaze follows the ball, up and down. Up and down.

Next time, he PRETENDS to throw the ball up, and his gaze move up just as if he did throw it... Except he did not actually throw it.

In test audiences, 2/3rds of the people SWORE the ball had left his hand, then vanished in thin air, even when it did NOT happen.

That is the power of suggestion, and playing with your perceptions.

Your brain says "look at the guy's face", then "follow the guy's gaze", and you do so, even when there's nothing to look at. And your MIND then constructed the details that you *thought* you saw, like the ball leaving the magician's hand.

He merely provided the framework to play with your expectations and perceptions. YOU filled in the details. And thus, you've been tricked. That's why magic is often called an illusion. It's NOT REAL, and you thought it was.

And scam works the same way: playing with your expectations and perceptions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Genre Analysis: MLM and... Penny Auctions? Round 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: Genre Analysis is my personal opinion on a particular genre of network marketing, like MLM + penny auctions, or MLM + daily deals, and so on. 

Back in July (01-JUL-2012), in response to an editorial by Troy Dooly of MLMHelpDesk, I tried to analyze the penny auction + MLM genre, and why they don't really make sense, esp. how Zeek Rewards is doing it. Little did I know that mere month and a half later, Zeek Rewards would shut its doors and formally charged as a Ponzi scheme by none other than the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). 

A few days ago (08-NOV-2012), OzSoapbox of BehindMLM published a formal warning: that any income opportunity seeker should avoid penny auction MLM genre altogether. This is after Funky Shark decided to kill its own pre-launch, after realizing they have already engaged in illegal conduct. 

I decided I would analyze the same problem from a different view: does the mix of the two genres make any sense? The answer is "not really". Let me show you why. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Psychology of Ponzi Schemes and Schemers: part 2, the victim

In this multi-part series, the issues around Ponzi scheme will be discussed. Read Part 1

Ever wondered what exactly makes a person vulnerable to being scammed by Ponzi scheme or any other scheme? Scientists have worked on this for a long time. It all depends, but a 2006 UK study has identified 7 primary vulnerabilities. They are:

1) Distraction -- you don't see the deception if you are told to watch for something else at that time. This is known as the "invisible gorilla" phenomenon, and it's pervasive.

[ See "The Invisible Gorilla" website ]

2) Social compliance -- you defer to someone with authority, even though it could just be appearance of authority. So by appearing authoritative to you, you follow like sheeple.

[ See Five Ways Bullsh**er Hold Power Over You ]

3) Herd principle -- you like belonging to a herd, even if it's heading over a cliff (and esp. if you don't know it's heading over a cliff)

[ See "You are all sheeple until you choose not to be" ]