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The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . .…

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time (original 2015; edition 2016)

by Maria Konnikova (Author)

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254876,141 (3.64)1
Explores the psyches, motives, and methods of con artists to reveal why they are consistently successful, identifying common hallmarks of cons to share additional insights into the relationship between artists and victims.
Title:The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time
Authors:Maria Konnikova (Author)
Info:Viking (2016), Edition: First Edition, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova (2015)



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I guess we've all been conned a time or two! this book is very interesting with details of many con artist and those who've been conned. Sure kept me interested and lots to think about as to why so many of us are often caught up in scams. ( )
  loraineo | Aug 14, 2020 |
By far one of the most powerful books I've read regarding psychology and touching on skepticism. The book is broken down into the various parts of the confidence game. In each chapter the author interweaves the topic with the real events and the psychology behind what is going on, creating a compelling narrative while maintaining a balance between them. Some of the research she touches on, I've read elsewhere, interlocking this book with others that I've read. It provides something in the way of tools for the working to overcome the various psychological effects going on, but arming you with information, not on how to counter the confidence game, whether someone playing you, or through self-deception, but more a warning to spot how our emotions are being manipulated and to keep alert for red flags. ( )
  Zcorbain | Jun 14, 2018 |
Why do we fall for frauds? Why are people susceptible to being tricked? How do con artists manipulate people into doing things that from an outside perspective look clearly irrational? It all has to do with human psychology. Maria Konnikova (Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia) provides real life examples, from shell games to religious cults, that demonstrate how confidence artists exploit their marks by manipulating basic emotions. No one is immune. Anyone can be conned. Some people more easily than others—the highly credulous, the distraught, the desperate—but none of us is impervious. Our rationality runs only so deep. We are also creatures of belief and desire, and a skilled con artist can us these to gain advantage, and some measure of control, over us. There is no sure-fire, never-fail defense, at least not one that wouldn't sacrifice our essential humanity, but knowing how con artists work and the tricks they use to manipulate their victims can offer some protection. This book might help provide that. ( )
  DLMorrese | Aug 23, 2017 |
I liked Ms. Konnikova's Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, and was glad to learn she had a new book when I heard her interviewed on NPR. It's similar to Mastermind (which I should reread again...), in relating anecdotes (Holmes stories in that) to the points being made. Annoying though, in the clipping at the point of interest to divert to the theme or other explanations, to come back to later in the chapter. A little mid-chapter Irwin Allen cliffhanger. But not so annoying that I stopped reading.

I learned a few things...did you know that there is not only something called a "neuroeconomist", but actual schools of "Neuroeconomics Studies"? ... they apparently look at "the power of the story in our daily interactions". And Konnikova cites a psychologist researching pathological lying, Yaling Yang, who found that "practiced deceivers were better at one of the basic skills of the con: the ability to tell a good story." Curiously, she followed that immediately with a quote from Seymour Epstein:"It is no accident that the Bible, probably the most influential Western book of all time, teaches through parables and stories and not through philosophical discourse.” Narratives, he argues, are "intrinsically appealing" in a way nothing else quite is.
Practised deceivers...Bible...hmmm...

Anyway, her central thesis is pretty much
Give us a compelling story, and we open up. Skepticism gives way to belief.
I'll allow that is generally true, and that more fall to the compelling story than not, sad is the case. However, I had more to disagree with in this book than Mastermind. For one... Even if you aren’t religious, for instance, your chances of falling for superstition are high.
"High"? Please. Hardly. She explains with examples of inane things like sports fans sitting in the same seat, or wearing the same shirt for every game. She says, "There is no better mark, many a con artist will tell you, than one who has already been duped." I suppose for those who are particularly susceptible, but "fool me once..." you know the rest. I do get fooled, and am forever on the alert after that.

In her last chapter, she cites William James:Everything was a matter of faith. The extent of the faith was the question. "I state the matter thus bluntly, because the current of thought in academic circles runs against me, and I feel like a man who must set his back against an open door quickly if he does not wish to see it closed and locked. In spite of its being so shocking to the reigning intellectual tastes, I believe that a candid consideration of piecemeal supernaturalism and a complete discussion of all its metaphysical bearings will show it to be the hypothesis by which the largest number of legitimate requirements are met.” In other words, all of us believe, intrinsically and instinctively. We just differ on where we draw the line between “legitimate” and “illegitimate.” One man’s confidence artist is another man’s spiritual leader.

Ummm, ... I suppose the line drawing has nothing to do with legitimacy, so...okay. But I certainly agree with that last statement.

Now...her conclusion unfortunately offends the intellect: Con artists, at their best and worst, give us meaning. We fall for them because it would make our lives better if the reality they proposed were indeed true. They give us a sense of purpose, of value, of direction.
That, in the end, is the true power of belief. It gives us hope. If we are endlessly skeptical, endlessly miserly with our trust, endlessly unwilling to accept the possibilities of the world, we despair. To live a good life we must, almost by definition, be open to belief, of one form or another. And that is why the confidence game is both the oldest there is and the last one that will still be standing when all other professions have faded away.
Ultimately, what a confidence artist sells is hope. Hope the you'll be happier, helthier, richer, loved, accepted, better looking, younger, smarter, a deeper, more fulfilled human being - hope that the you that will emerge on the other side will somehow be superior to the you that came in.

While I am not "miserly" with my trust, I take solace in my skepticism and demand evidence of "the possibilities of the world". If she succeeds in selling that bit to readers, then she is an accomplished confidence artist. Or they are primed to be susceptible. Still, I liked the book overall.
( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
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Explores the psyches, motives, and methods of con artists to reveal why they are consistently successful, identifying common hallmarks of cons to share additional insights into the relationship between artists and victims.

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