“The Confidence Game” Quotes

I recently read “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It… Every Time” by Maria Konnikova. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

confidence-game“Our minds are built for stories. We crave them, and, when there aren’t ready ones available, we create them. Stories about our origins. Our purpose. The reasons the world is the way ti is. Human beings don’t like to exist in a state of uncertainty or ambiguity. When something doesn’t make sense, we want to supply the missing link. When we don’t understand what or why or how something happened, we want to find the explanation.” (6)

“Give us a compelling story, and we open up.” (7)

“As long as the desire for magic, for a reality that is somehow greater than our everyday existence, remains, the confidence game will thrive.” (8)

“Cons thrive in times of transition and fast change, when new things are happening and old ways of looking at the world no longer suffice.” (9)

“Technology doesn’t make us more worldly or knowledgeable. It doesn’t protect us. It’s just a change of venue for the same old principles of confidence. What are you confident in? The con artist will find those things where your belief is unshakeable and will build on that foundation to subtly change the world around you. But you will be so confident in the starting point that you won’t even notice what’s happened.” (10)

“The confidence game starts with basic human psychology. From the artist’s perspective, it’s a question of identifying the victim (the put-up): who is he, what does he want, and how can I play on that desire to achieve what I want? It requires the creation of empathy and rapport (the play): an emotional foundation must be laid before any scheme is proposed, any game set in motion. Only then does it move to logic and persuasion (the rope): the scheme (the tale), the evidence and the way it will work to your benefit (the convincer), the show of actual profits. And like a fly caught in a spider’s web, the more we struggle, the less able to extricate ourselves ew become (the breakdown). By the time things begin to look dicey, we tend to be so invested, emotionally and often physically, that we do most of the persuasion ourselves.” (12)

“When we see other people talking about their unbelieveable deal or crazy good fortune, we realize at once that they’ve been taken for a sucker. But when it happens to us, well, I am just lucky and deserving of a good turn.” (12)

“Genes load the gun; the environment pulls the trigger.” (27)

“The more adept a swimmer was at self-deception, the more likely she was to have made the cut.” (43)

“A victim isn’t necessarily foolish or greedy. A victim is simply more emotionally vulnerable at the exact moment the confidence artist approaches.” (48)

“Mere exposure has real evolutionary value. If we’ve seen something before, and it didn’t kill us, well, our chances are probably better than with something we can’t predict.” (68)

“The bad grammar and seemingly implausible notes: those aren’t from stupidity. They’re actually well thought out beforehand. Scammers have learned the hard way that notes that sound too legitimate hook too many fish, making the wedding-out process incredibly costly. Now only the true sucker falls for the pitch.” (77-78)

“The best confidence artist makes us feel not like we’re being taken for a ride but like we are genuinely wonderful human beings.” (102)

“So strong is narrative that it has been shown to be one of the few successful ways of getting someone to change her mind about important issues.” (103)

“Gripping narratives may often supersede any logic or more direct tactic: in some cases, it can be the only strategy for getting someone to agree with you or behave in a certain way, where any direct appeals would be met with resistance.” (103)

“French and Raven posited that there were five major bases from which power derives: reward power, or the belief that someone is able to reward you; coercive power, or the belief that someone is able to punish you somehow; legitimate power, or an actual basis of authority; referent power, or power derived from your affiliation with someone; and expert power, from someone’s expertise on a topic.” (149)

“It’s a phenomenon known as the illusion of truth: we are more likely to think something is true if it feels familiar.” (163)

“The call to “imagine the benefits” can come even before any concrete proposal. Just a seemingly throwaway remark, a casting of the rope, so to speak, before you even realize that anything is on offer. You’ve planted the suggestion and, when the time for the real proposal comes along, the mark is more likely to see it as coming from her own initiative.” (163-4)

“The whole secret to our success is being able to con ourselves into believing that we’re going to change the world – because statistically, we are unlikely to do it.” -Tom Peters

“One of our fundamental drives is the need for self-affirmation: we need to feel worthy, to feel needed, to feel like we matter.” (172)

“We hold an unwavering commitment to the notion that we are special – and not just special, but more special than most anyone else.” (175)

“The more exceptional we see ourselves, the easier we may be to con.” (179)

“Cons aren’t about money or about love. They are about our beliefs. We are savvy investors. We are discerning with our love interests. We have a stellar reputation. We are, fundamentally, people to whom good things happen with good reason. We live in a world full of wonder – not a world of uncertainty and negativity. We live in a world where good things happen to those who wait. The teller of the tale has us hooked.” (194)

“We are confident that we can judge how sound of character someone is. And the moment they prove us right, it will take a miracle for them to lose that trust.” (215)

“Once we’ve invested heavily in something, we no longer see it clearly, no matter the costs. Things that are red flags in retrospect are dismissed as irrelevant once we’ve already sunk sufficient resources – money, time, reputation – into an endeavor.” (266)

“We overestimate the extent to which we, personally, are the designers of our success, as opposed to it just happening all on its own. When something goes wrong, we’re only too eager to blame ill fortune. Not so when it goes right.” (276)

“Why is the illusion of control so persistent? Often, it can be quite beneficial for our health and success. It helps us deal with stress and keep going instead of giving up in frustration. Individuals who feel in control are more likely to recover quickly from illnesses and be healthier, both physically and mentally.” (278)

“But we are not statistics to ourselves. And our view of the world is so egocentric, so intimately tied to the notion that we are just as important to everyone else as we are to ourselves, that we cannot fathom that everybody isn’t caring nearly as much about our story as we ourselves do. So we cling to our reputation. We think everyone pays attention to the slightest thing we do, the slightest thing we say, the slightest deviation in our demeanor.” (301)

“We want to believe. Believe that things make sense. That an action leads to a result. That things don’t just happen willy-nilly no matter what we do, but rather for a reason. That what we do makes a difference, however small. That we ourselves matter. That there is a grand story, a higher method to the seeming madness. And in the heart of that desire, we easily become blind. The eternal lure of the con is the same reason religions arise spontaneously in most any human society. People always want something to believe in.” (307)

“Human nature is wired toward creating meaning out of meaninglessness.” (310)

“Religiosity is one of the few factors that consistently predicts susceptibility to fraud. It’s a thin line between belief in one miracle and belief in another.” (318)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

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