Instaread Summary The Confidence Game Why We Fall for It... Every Time by Maria Konnikova
Five out of five stars
Like so many other things like war and taxes, the people that run con games have always been part of human societies. There is very little doubt that this will ever change. The reasons for this are largely psychological in nature and are due to roots deep within the human psychological structure.
As is pointed out very well in this summary, humans are hard-wired to seek cooperation and mutual assistance. It is one of the primary reasons primates with no natural mechanisms for attack and defense were able to survive predators and hunt animals that were bigger, stronger and faster. This leads people to have a natural tendency to have confidence in others offering to aid them.
Another reason for the success of the con artist is that people want to feel special, better or more privilged than others. This is the reason for the success of the commonly used marketing tactic of the “You have been specially selected for . . .” sales pitch. The book that is being summarized covers these reasons as well as others as to how con artists can be successful.
The author of this summary does the reader an important service in noting that the book has many academic features, even though it is pitched as for the general reader. The precise phrasing is “This is at once a scientific text, rife with psychological studies, research, terminology, and insight, as well as a book for the lay reader interested in learning about con artists.” That forewarning is important, for many potential readers will understand that this is in many ways a scientific text and not a popular discussion of a specific breed of sociopaths.
Without reading the book, I do not know how well Konnikova manages the dual operation of writing a scientific text for the masses, but it is critical that I do know that she tried.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.