Published September 2022 on Spotfiy

728: Maria Konnikova | The Confidence Game

1. Introduction

Maria and Jordan explore our innate vulnerability to deception and persuasion, how to avoid getting scammed, and how to defend ourselves from cons and be even more persuasive at home and at work.

2. Vulnerability to Deception

Vulnerability to Deception:Maria Konnikova discusses her book "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes" and the techniques of persuasion used by con artists that make us all vulnerable to deception. The conversation highlights the effectiveness of cons and how even educated people can fall for them.
Con Artists' Victims:Maria and Jordan discuss the common misperception that only greedy and gullible people fall for scams. In reality, the typical victim profile is often sophisticated and not motivated by greed. They also discuss how emotional needs can make people vulnerable to scams, using the example of the "sweetheart scam." Honest people are also easier to cheat because they often assume others think like them.

3. Trust and Deception

Trust and Deception:Maria explains that trusting societies tend to prosper and people who have higher levels of trust end up being smarter. However, we don't spot deception very well because it's actually really beneficial not to spot it. We actually want to believe certain cons and certain lies.
The Art of the Con:Maria Konnikova discusses the psychology behind why people fall for cons and how overconfidence can blind us. Jordan Harbinger and Maria also talk about how technology has made it easier for fraud to occur and how lapses in security can still happen.

4. Social Media Vulnerability

Social Media Vulnerability:Maria explains how easy it is for con artists to steal personal information from social media and how it can lead to identity theft. Jordan and Maria discuss the vulnerability of people and how social media makes it easier for con artists to find that one point of vulnerability.
Exceptionalism and Cognitive Dissonance:Maria explains how we all think we're exceptional and have a hard time accepting our faults. She shares a study that shows how even people who have caused car accidents rate themselves as above average drivers. Clinically depressed individuals are the only ones who have an accurate perception of themselves, which is psychologically protective.

5. Sponsors

Tax Refund Program:Jordan and Jen talk about Innovation Refunds, a payroll tax refund program that can give businesses up to $26,000 per employee. They share how the program works and how to qualify for it.
Online Privacy Protection:Jordan and Jen discuss the importance of protecting your online privacy and how IPVanish VPN can help keep your data safe and secure. They offer a 70% discount on their yearly plan for listeners and encourage them to take their privacy back today.

6. Con Men Traits

Con Men Traits:Maria explains how psychopaths are overrepresented in professions like law, business, and politics. She also discusses the intersection of con artists and psychopaths, along with other personality traits like Machiavellianism and narcissism.
Con Artists and Psychopathy:Maria Konnikova discusses the traits of con artists, including their ability to rationalize their actions and their grandiose sense of self. She also explains that while psychopathy is a factor in becoming a con artist, it is not the only factor and there are psychopaths who do not become con artists. Childhood trauma and adverse life events can also contribute to the development of negative psychopathy.

7. Animal Deception

Animal Con Artists:Maria explains how deception is universal in the animal kingdom, from ants masquerading as queen bees to cuckoo-finches leaving their eggs in other bird's nests. She also discusses how some people behave like normal human beings in an environment that values honesty, but act on their instincts in a competitive culture that doesn't value honesty.
Animal Con Artists:Maria and Jordan discuss how animals can manipulate humans to get what they want, similar to how human con artists operate. Psychopaths are also discussed as being skilled in mimicking emotions to manipulate others.
Spotting Lies:Maria Konnikova shares her research on con artists and how they can always justify their actions, while Jordan Harbinger discusses the difficulty of spotting lies and the dangers of oversimplifying body language cues.

8. Spotting Lies and Avoiding Scams

Spotting Lies:Maria Konnikova explains that people are terrible at spotting lies and that there are no signs that can help you detect a liar. Even police interrogators with 20 years of experience are not good at it. It's important to acknowledge that you don't know and be skeptical.
Avoiding Scams:Maria explains that being able to identify scamming techniques goes a long way in avoiding them. She also suggests that understanding ourselves better and being wary of people who tell us exactly what we want to hear can help us avoid falling for scams. Our deep-rooted need to believe that the world makes sense and our discomfort with ambiguity makes us vulnerable to con artists who sell belief and hope.

9. Sponsors

Therapy and Insurance:Jen and Jordan discuss the benefits of online therapy and the ease of signing up for Better Help. They also talk about the convenience of comparing insurance rates with Progressive's comparison tool.
Smart Prescription Savings:Jordan and Jen Harbinger talk about GoodRx, a free service that helps people find the lowest prices for prescription drugs. They discuss how pharmacies charge different prices for the same drugs, and how GoodRx users saved 81 percent on retail prescription prices in 2021.

10. Avoiding Scams

Avoiding Scams:Maria Konnikova explains how anyone can become a victim of a scam when they are emotionally vulnerable. She also shares a self-reflection test that can help people identify their susceptibility to scams.
Persuasive Tactics:Maria Konnikova shares persuasive tactics she learned from studying con artists, including asking for a big favor first to increase the likelihood of a smaller favor being granted later. The guilt of saying no to the big favor makes people more likely to say yes to the smaller one. Jordan and Maria discuss how this tactic can be used in various situations.

11. Scam Prevention Techniques

Avoiding Scams:Maria shares techniques to avoid getting scammed, including saying no through a gatekeeper and using limit setting to visualize and prepare for potential encounters that may push you beyond your limits. Jordan adds the technique of asking for small favors to build a sense of obligation in the other person.
Avoiding Scams:Maria Konnikova shares tips on how to prevent falling for scams, including creating an if-then plan and playing through different scenarios. She also discusses how emotions can cloud judgment and the importance of saving face. The chapter ends with a personal story about a potential scam on a first date.

12. The Dating Scam

Maria shares a story of how a man scammed her date on their first date and explains how scammers target people on dates. She warns listeners not to be overconfident and to be aware of the tactics scammers use.

13. Outro

Jordan explores the world of con artists with Maria, discussing the psychology behind scams and how people can be manipulated. They delve into the history of confidence games and social engineering, revealing the original hackers before the age of computers.