Jack Payne asked:
Fighting off skeptics as a means of “group control” is psychologically important to the scam artist.
In every group of victims, the scam artist’s problem is that he must always be able to adequately “handle” those few skeptics who will emerge to plague him. A much different setting than when he’s dealing with a single mark. Thus, his own interpretation of “conflict resolution” spells out as much different rules of engagement than that contained in any college curriculum. Here they are:
1. Always hide behind the conspiracy theory. Cite numerous cases of individuals, organizations, jealous competitors, and government agencies out to “get” you, through underhanded, collaborative means.
2. Never answer a direct question. Always confuse, exaggerate, distort, and obfuscate.
3. If your adversaries demand evidence of the claims you make to back you up, challenge them. Indignantly state that they cannot disprove your claims. If you act insulted enough by their accusations, they will be shamed. Some will even apologize for questioning your integrity.
4. When confronted by an incisive, direct question, bombard your opponent with an assault of meaningless questions in retaliation. (The captain of the Titanic knew an iceberg was close; how would you have saved the ship? When Columbus set foot on the new continent he thought he was in India. How would you have known the difference?) When your opponent ignores your hypothetical diatribe, and tries, instead, to get back on topic, accuse him of evading the issue. At this point his buildup of frustration and rage will work to your advantage. Your audience will now exude sympathy for you, for the mean-spirited badgering you’ve had to put up with.
5. Use the word, “analysis,” often (Studied analysis. Thoughtful analysis.). This will give everything you say a sense of the seriousness you need to convey.
6. When things intensely heat up, make your opponent even more furious. Taunt him, unmercifully. With tempered, controlled delivery, make wild charges. When rage builds to the point he will call you “a liar,” you have him cold. Now you accuse him of name calling. Do this in a distraught, but fatherly, understanding way. This will make your audience respond to you. They will think that it is you, not he, the one staying on topic, and they will sympathize with you for the verbal abuse you’ve had to suffer.
7. When your opponent has the audacity to demand evidence from you, to back up your claims, accuse him of being closed-minded. Piously claim that it is the broad-minded who, along with the meek, shall inherit the earth. This is another way to frame your retort that will gain you Brownie points with your audience who like to think of themselves as enlightened free-thinkers.
8. To the opponent who threatens to expose your proposition as a scam, the reflex is always automatic.. Loudly accuse him of being an agent of the “Big Conspiracy” trying to bury you. Proudly wave the cross you have to bear. Emphatically restate your cause–of constantly having to fight “them”–in a “these are times that try men’s souls” tone of voice.
9. If the ultimate extreme becomes necessary, make your opponents paranoid. Tell them you have a file of evidence on them, that you have gathered, and are about to turn over to the police. They will think you are mentally deranged, but hesitate, nonetheless. (Was it the beer bottle I threw through a department store window when I was 12? Was it the indiscretion I had with a high school teacher when I was 17?) Keep them guessing. They won’t know. Consequently, they will back off.
10. Be quick to patronize, exude sympathy. Label anyone who does not immediately agree with you ill-informed, uneducated, behind-the-times, or lacking vision.
11. You must always take the stance of being beyond reproach. Get a copy of the book, How to Lie With Statistics. Quote from it frequently, as if from a legal thriller book. Quote a “fact” you are trying to push. Never mention the title, of course, just remind your listeners that it must be fact, because it’s quoted in a book.
12. Rigidly uphold your carefully-cultivated reputation as a “Visionary.” Loudly insist, with rapid side-to-side head shaking for emphasis, that no proof exists that you are a scam artist. Accuse your detractors of spinning, spreading propaganda and malicious nonsense. Tell them you will “see them in court” before you will take further character assassination from them.
13. Use the “they laughed at,” line frequently (They laughed at Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Louis Pasteur, too.)
14. Use the force of exasperation to your advantage. (Do I have to prove that the world is round?)
15. Use the words, “it’s common knowledge,” often. Throw in quotes from dead people, who cannot refute you. Instead of baldly claiming, “Two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, endorsed my claims,” combine the power of these three magic words with the power of quoting dead people, “It’s common knowledge that two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, endorsed my claims.”
16.. Ignore all facts. Never admit to a fact that might suggest, in any way, that your theories might be erroneous. Dig up a reference that supports you. There is always one out there somewhere, even if it only hints around the fringes that you “might” be right. Not to worry about vague wording. With scam artists’ mastery you can always make this one little isolated piece of information sound like the Gospel.
17. Remember, the best means you have of proving a point is to trot out a whole list of these. From this list, from point 2 on, your points will be minor, insignificant, but factual. But the first one, your main point, will be a major supposition. which you are trying to sell by way of sneaking it in. Then, because your list includes many facts, when you get to the end of it refer to the supposition as a fact. This way your pre-conditioned audience will now accept everything you say as “fact.”
18. Quote Abraham Lincoln and recount his travails, a lot. Implant the image of you as a likeness of “Honest Abe,” firmly in the minds of your supporters. (President Lincoln found it hard to sign the Magna Carta. President Lincoln suffered mental torture when forced to his decision to let Grant send Sherman to burn Atlanta.) You can bring this theme to a heart-rendering point where it will almost bring tears to the eyes of your supporters.
19. Seize the initiative from your opponents. Describe yourself as a skeptic, suspicious of lofty claims, questioning all things illogical. Warn them, gravely, that they must always beware of scam artists. Proper nuance of this positioning will transition your borderline believers to firm believers.
20. Say your assumed name, the pseudonym you use, is Foster Snyder. Use it to refer to yourself in the third person. This will make everything you say sound more credible, more penetratingly factual. (Foster Snyder has observed the disquiet in academia. Foster Snyder thinks of the arts as being in a state of suspended dementia.)
21. Imprint, indelibly, on the minds of your followers, that you are a true “Visionary,” therefore everything you say about the glorious future you are about to unfold for them is beyond question.
22. Use the word, “stalker.” Use it repeatedly. (Didn’t Foster Snyder see you in Cincinnati? Weren’t you in a front row seat at Foster Snyder’s speech in Seattle in January?) This word has such a negative connotation–as in assassinations, sex crimes–that this defensive stance will procure followers. If your followers believe you to be a victim of stalking by an agent of the “Big Conspiracy” you must fight. they will fall in line with protective vigor to back you.
23. Drop your head low, slowly shake it, sadly, lower your voice, and say of your detractors, “They just don’t understand.”
This is the “trigger”
point–to get your followers to flock to you, opening
their wallets on the way.
24. As a postscript, steadfastly deny even the hint of truthfulness in your detractors debunking of you. Simply, assuredly, and in a soft voice, state that these sad, lonely people are not experts on the subject of your claims. So, how could they possibly have anything meaningful to say on the subject?
There you have it. Twenty four points of glibness the scam artist will use to distort, confuse, bewilder and set his opponents up, in his efforts to inspire you as to his “leadership,” win you over. While much of his logic is like saying, if most car accidents happen within 5 miles of your house, why not move 10 miles away? you are puzzled, but swayed. When he says fat chance and slim chance mean exactly the same thing, you hesitate, think, then nod your head in agreement. Then, when he finally asks, would you rather be the pigeon or the statue?–the only thing he’s said that you clearly understand–you eagerly fall in line. And, follow him to the “Promised Land.”