Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Natural Inclination to Avoid Admitting We’ve Been Conned

Recent experience has reminded me that we all share a natural resistance to admitting, in spite of overwhelming evidence, to ourselves and to others, that we’ve been conned. We’ve been “had!”

We all know to be wary of used car salesmen. Lawyers have their own genre of jokes based upon a common dearth of honesty and integrity. These two words prompt snickers when associated with the legal professions. Still, millions of divorcing couples allow themselves to be emotionally railroaded into exorbitantly expensive divorce proceedings. Stimulated by the heat of negative passions, men and women are easily conned by their own lawyers. Their children suffer permanently; their banks accounts temporarily.

Advertisers are masters of the con. Trash dumps are filled with low-quality junk that seemed promising up to the time of purchase. Slick advertisers capitalize on knowing that the junk they sell won’t be returned by a large majority of disappointed buyers conned into believing “too good to be true” or ordinary sales diatribes. Millions of us have grown accustomed to putting our money, in the form of spontaneously purchased goods, into a trash bin rather than admit we were fooled and demanding a justifiable refund.

So prevalent is the con in our society that millions now resort to background checks for prospective dates.  

I’ve been given to understand, that those conducting job interviews, as a rule, assume that every resume contains at least one lie, usually in the form of exaggeration, and sometimes boldly outrageous.

Year in and year out, politicians con voters on a grand scale. Pretending that the whole electoral process is not an enormous con game, voters not only continue to head to the polls but also donate billions of non-tax-deductible dollars to perpetuate the con. The voters pay to con themselves rather than accept that the entire system is a scam … so strong is the natural inclination to deny we’ve been had.

So entrenched is our reluctance to admit the simple truth, that we are being fooled by experts and amateurs alike, we pay enormous sums of “good money after bad” to avoid eating crow.

Even journalism has had its share of cons. Some infamous writers include Clifford Irving and the Howard Hughes Autobiography Hoax. See this article about that: The Autobiography of Howard Hughes

Other journalists have ruined their careers in various ways through hoaxes. A listing of fifty-seven such personal debacles is found in this link:

Included among those who confiscate money from victims through “confidence games,” a certain percentage is sociopaths. Some argue that most lawyers and all politicians are inclined to become one of this ignominious menagerie of human beings. Keep in mind, if you will, this is not “name calling” but rather technical labels invented by psychologists. It’s professional jargon.

The typical sociopath will often resort to habitual manipulation. Sometimes, as personal experience and observation teaches, manipulation by a sociopath becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end such as money or power. Successful manipulative ploys are carried out for their own sake because a sociopath accepts results as “proof” of personal superiority over the victim. 

{Some interesting videos on narcissism can be found here: }

This is to say, for some “confidence gamers” the means becomes more personally rewarding than the prize to be gained, the profit from a sale or the power of an office.

This is the case with the only incidence I’ve personally ever known in which a man used manipulation, coercion, and threat of personal injury to gain control over a manuscript for a book he did not create. In the process he demanded that a copyright was altered to exclude the rightful owner, yet allowed it to be changed back before he went on to publish the book and profit from it. The process of obtaining complete control through those nefarious means was replete with bizarre theatrics that served no other purpose beyond delivering “narcissistic juice  -- a chemical intoxicant produced by our brains – to the manipulating, narcissistic would-be author. Those theatrics were coincidental with his confiscation of the book, which itself was a prelude to what followed its publication. This man who had barely ever read a book wanted desperately to claim a new identity as “the author of …” Strip away all the “show” and “bluster” and we are left to perceive the naked narcissism for what it is. 

The moral here: it’s not always financial gain, or a seat of power, that motivates a person habitually drawn to fool, or con, others. Sometimes the biggest, most irresistible motive is the intoxication derived from fucking someone else over, and the pure, unadulterated dose of EGO that a narcissist perpetually and desperately needs.

This is why our society is overpopulated with confidence men and women. Aside from the typical politician or greedy scammer, there is that certain number among us who happen to be predators seeking boosts of narcissistic juice. For these, ego is more important than money or power.

And this leads us back to the beginning. We hate to eat crow and admit we’ve been conned. Perhaps six hundred or more people bought a copy of the purloined book in the example above. If or when they are given the truth, that the person claiming to be the book’s author was in fact an imposter … the chances are that they’ll prefer denial of this truth rather than accept that they were conned.