Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Scam Psychology: "You have to try it to understand it" fallacy

One of the most popular fallacies trotted out by scammers and scammed sheeple is "you have to try it to understand it".  It has a cousin known as "you're not in it (so shut up)" argument.

Basically, the claim that any criticism levelled at the scheme is premature because the critics have not tried the scheme. The implication is once the critic have tried the scheme s/he will change his/her mind. It basically takes this form
A: Acme XYZ is a scam because of ____, _____, and _____.  
B: But you don't know Acme XYZ. How could you when you're not a member? Join us. 
The reply sounds very sensical, until you realize one thing: It never addressed your point: "Acme XYZ is a scam". It is completely irrelevant. It is a red herring. It neither disproves your premise, nor does it prove a counter premise.

The argument is non-sensical, and here's a very appropriate reply quip for such idiocy:
"So you have to eat shit to know not to eat it, huh?"

(Thanks to justicealwayslate on Facebook)

There are plenty of other quips, like "oh, so cops have to be criminals first to arrest criminals, huh?"  or "do I have to shoot myself to know it's a bad idea?" or "Do morticians have to die to be a mortician?" But you get the idea. It's ridiculous.

The fallacy stems from "error in perspective". Basically, the proponent of the fallacy believe the other people (i.e. the critics) are wrong, except in reality, they are wrong. The proponents have an error in perspective they do not even realize or perhaps they do realize but not see the importance. And they believe a trial run is enough to change critic's mind.

Real life doesn't work that way. Evidence is evidence whether it was personally experienced or not. In fact, personal experience makes evidence LESS reliable due to illusory superiority bias, motivated thinking, IKEA effect, ownership bias, sunk cost fallacy, and much more.

The entire counter argument can be used as proof that the speaker has NO effective counterargument and instead tries to appeal to emotion instead.

So next time you run into "you have to try it to understand it" fallacy, you know the perfect comeback.


  1. Yep, goes without saying.."Try it, You'll like it"!

  2. Great points. It's funny how an IBO trying to recruit you will make you read Kiyosaki's books, and when you point out to them that he himself did not join Amway, they tell you that that's even better because he is outside it, so can give an unbiased opinion! No one ever said HE had to join before singing Amway's praises! But I don't need to try drugs to know they're harmful, even if there are millions of people happily enjoying drugs and thinking they're amazing!

    1. Actually, Kiyosaki *was* am Ambot under Bill Galvin.