Wealth and rank are what people desire, but unless they are obtained in the right way they may not be possessed. – Confucius.
Ever heard of Bernard Madoff?
You may remember him as the guy that “made off” with millions of dollars through an elaborate ponzi scheme. Well I guess he did go to jail, but he had a ton of very intellectual people severely duped for a long time.
So how can so many smart people get duped by one guy? If it’s not Bernie Madoff it’s Paul Burks (Zeekler - which coincidentally still has a 4 out of 5 star review on reviewopedia), or US Airlines. It seems like I’m always hearing about the latest scam, and I’ll be honest, they’re getting pretty creative.
Well it turns out the answer lies inside your mind…and to help you understand how it works we’ve got Author and Expert Stephen Greenspan on the latest episode of the Moola Mind Podcast…
Why Humans Are So Gullible
Turns out we are all gullible (believe me?). Who better to help us understand why than a Doctor of Psychology. Doctor Stephen Greenspan has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and has been seen and heard on HBO, 60 minutes, Frontline, NPR and the BBC. Most recently Dr. Greenspan released a book called The Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How To Avoid It.
So why are we so gullible? There are actually multiple factors that make us gullible, including our knowledge level, the situation we’re in and our personalities. The smartest con men, advertisers and marketers know how to catch the right person, at the right time, in the right place. They understand something that most people don’t…
Let me introduce you to “magical thinking.” When your desire outweighs your perception of reality you are knee deep in magical thinking. This often occurs when you want so badly for something to be true that you actually think your wanting it will make it happen. In other words you’ve become completely oblivious to reality.
It may sound a little tricky but a simple example will clear everything up.
Who’s your Nigerian Princess?
Have you ever received a huge inheritance from a Nigerian Princess? Probably not, but I’m sure you’ve received plenty of emails telling you there’s one waiting for you.
Dr. Greenspan shared an unbelievable story about a guy getting conned by a similar scheme. What’s interesting about this story is that he was more susceptible to being duped because of his religion, age and financial situation. Not to mention the fact that he spent time in Africa doing charity work. Now you and I might not be fooled by something like this, but he was the perfect person, at the perfect age, in the perfect situation, for the perfect con.
This guy got an email telling him his long lost cousin had died and he was in line to receive an inheritance to the tune of 12 million pounds (that’s close to 20 million Dollars).
What started out as curiosity led to magical thinking. His skepticism was soon masked by his desire to receive the huge inheritance. But there’s always a caveat right? In order to free up the 20 million dollars he had to cover some small legal fees. Over the next few months a few thousand dollars turned into $40,000 in legal fees, with no sign of the inheritance.
Just as he was about to cut his losses and break free from magical thinking, he got word that the inheritance was increased to 120 million pounds (close to 200 million dollars). Instead of thinking rationally he fell back into magical thinking and that ultimately cost him more money.
Did we mention his wife warned him from day one that this whole thing was potentially a scam? Further evidence of how far from reality his thinking was.
Another example of magical thinking was “tulipmania.” Ever traded your house for a flower?
How to Avoid Being Duped
According to Dr. Greenspan there are a few things you can do to avoid being duped.
1. Get the opinions of others, especially those that are experts in the field of interest.
2. Step back from the situation. Sleep on it, think about it, just step back and analyze.
3. Do not make snap decisions. Your state of mind can be affected by being tired, inebriated, hungry, or anything else you might think of. Changing your state of mind can bring clarity.
That said, have you or someone you know ever been trapped by magical thinking?
Have you ever been duped?