The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time by Maria Konnikova
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.