Ramblings & ephemera

The way to trick smart people

From Paul’s “The easiest way to fool smart people“:

There’s a saying among con-men that smart people are easier targets, because they don’t think they can be conned.

I’m not sure if that’s true, but there’s one scam that’s almost guaranteed to make smart people switch off their brains and reach for their wallets. It’s a trick that’s used so pervasively in our culture, that once you become aware of it, you start to see it everywhere. …

Most smart people have a hidden weakness and it’s this – they’re absolute suckers for anything that sounds clever.

As soon as you start hitting people with technical terms, fancy graphs, famous names and the like, you’ll immediately increase your credibility. If they’re smart, they’re even more likely to find themselves nodding in agreement. Many intelligent people would rather cut off a finger than admit they don’t know what you’re talking about. …

Even better, they can pretend to be teaching their audience something important. A person who was previously completely ignorant about quantum physics now feels as if they understand something about it – even if that something is absolute baloney. The audience have been fed ideas they’ll now defend even against someone who’s a real expert in that subject. Nobody likes to be told that something they’ve been led to believe is wrong. …

Consultants behave this way because they know that’s how to get a sale. Bombard people with clever-sounding stuff they don’t really understand, and they’ll assume that you’re some kind of genius. It’s a great way of making money.

Stock analysts, economic forecasters, management consultants, futurologists, investment advisors and so on use this tactic all the time. It’s their chief marketing strategy for the simple reason that it works.

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