Friday, September 2, 2016

Scam Psychology: How Threshold of Collective Behavior Affects Victim's Mindset

Readers of this blog have remarked that they are very surprised at how a victim will refuse to acknowledge s/he is a victim, despite very clear evidence that are indisputable, repeatedly demonstrated, even by the leader of the scheme. The victim simply ignores any evidence that is "negative" and accepts any evidence that is "positive". It is... completely irrational.

Yet irrational behavior is so prevalent, even when the behavior is CLEARLY demonstrated to be irrational. The perfect example? Basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain.

Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game
Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game
(Photo credit: 
Wilt Chamberlain, despite his legendary status, was a HORRIBLE free throw shooter. For his entire career... his free throw shooting percentage is... 51%. However, this guy once scored 100 points in an NBA game... BY HIMSELF!!!!!!  And in this game, he made 28/32 free throws... with UNDERHANDED throw! He made the first nine free throw shots! He tried doing this underhanded throw for a while and improved to 70+% accuracy rather than 50% of his normal overhand throw. So you'd think he'd keep doing it, right? WRONG! He went back to being a BAD shooter, because... Wilt Chamberlain does NOT want to throw underhanded. He "felt silly, like a sissy."

The choice to switch back to the 50% overhand free throw is an IRRATIONAL decision.  How can one of the greatest NBA players choose to play badly... just because... he felt bad even though the results speak for itself? Even today, the underhand throw is known as a "granny shot", and there are almost NO professional or semi-pro basketball players using it (only two in NBA, IIRC).

This sort of irrational behavior is very much in evidence when it comes to scam victim's mindset. Scam victims have been known to organize rallys "in support" of their ponzi scheme, interfere in government probes and sometimes, even sue the government in attempts to "clear the name" of the scheme they were involved in.

Sociologists believe this may have something to do with "threshold of collective/group behavior", where people will choose to follow a group, despite the group is NOT something they believe in. Like Wilt Chamberlain who chose to follow other players (in order not to feel sissy) instead of improve his scoring, scam victims will follow their group until the bitter end despite they know this can only turn out badly.

This is often found among MLMers who choose of live in echo chambers / reality distortion fields, thus choose to debase themselves, held themselves back, just to "fit in". One of the often bandied about slogans is the following:
"When you let go of negative people, positive ones appear."  -- Unknown
(You find this quote all over the "inspirational quotes" websites, with no origin. )

MLMers are often incapable of separating "negative people" from "people trying to give honest advice". By avoiding feedback and only listen to encouragements (i.e. "get rid of the negative, leave the positive") the participant end up isolating themselves while blaming the outside world of isolating them. Reality has been inverted, due to collective behavior.

There's also some factors of badly misinterpreted "linguistic determinism", i.e. what you say affects how you think. This concept is also known as Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis after Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf, who coined them decades ago, or sometimes, just the Whorfian Hypothesis. Basically, the hypothesis states that structure of a language either determines (strong version) or strongly influences (weak version) the modes of thought and behavior characteristics of the culture in which it is spoken.  Experts do not believe the strong version is right as it would prevent translations from ever working, while there are some evidence of the weak version being true.  However, this does not seem to stop the MLMers from modifying language to suit their needs.

Did you know there are at least ELEVEN terms for "multi-level marketing", even though most of the other terms are wrongly applied?

Did you know MLMers hate negativity that much of their counterarguments usually consists of slogans and myths?  "If you look for negative stuff you'll find it", "let go of negative people" (reference above), "positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking" (misquoting Zig Ziglar), and the infamous Mary Kay bumblebee pin based on the bumblebee myth. There are plenty more such examples.

Did you know MLMers often seem to make up their own "facts" which are easily busted by simple fact-checking via Google?

It can be said that much of MLM done wrong involves badly used language, so much so they are classified as commercial cults by some cult experts, much like a religious cult would force its members to adopt new definitions of words.

A victim who don't feel like a victim, is nonetheless a victim, whether the victim is influenced by groupthink echo chamber or self-deluded through use of proprietary language (or both), it doesn't matter. A victim will stay a victim until s/he recognize the victimhood and start doing something about it.

And there's no doubt that an industry where 99% of direct sales reps suffer significant financial losses, majority of MLM participants are victims... or prospective victims.

No comments:

Post a Comment