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A compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con artistsand the people who fall for their cons over and over again.
"It’s a startling and disconcerting read that should make you think twice every time a friend of a friend offers you the opportunity of a lifetime.” —Erik Larson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and bestselling author of Devil in the White City Think you can’t get conned? Think again. The New York Times bestselling author of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes explains how to spot the con before they spot you. “[An] excellent study of Con Artists, stories & the human need to believe” –Neil Gaiman, via Twitter A compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con artists—and the people who fall for their cons over and over again. While cheats and swindlers may be a dime a dozen, true conmen—the Bernie Madoffs, the Jim Bakkers, the Lance Armstrongs—are elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust. How do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling for it, over and over again? These are the questions that journalist and psychologist Maria Konnikova tackles in her mesmerizing new book. From multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes to small-time frauds, Konnikova pulls together a selection of fascinating stories to demonstrate what all cons share in common, drawing on scientific, dramatic, and psychological perspectives. Insightful and gripping, the book brings readers into the world of the con, examining the relationship between artist and victim. The Confidence Game asks not only why we believe con artists, but also examines the very act of believing and how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us. From the Hardcover edition.
The con artist: from Bernie Madoff to Clark Rockefeller to Lance Armstrong. How do they get away with it? And what keeps us falling for them, over and over again? In The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova investigates the psychological principles that underlie each stage of the swindle, from the put-up all the way to the fix, and how we can train ourselves to spot a story that isn't all it seems.
The New York Times bestselling guide to thinking like literature's greatest detective. "Steven Pinker meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" (Boston Globe), by the author of The Confidence Game. No fictional character is more renowned for his powers of thought and observation than Sherlock Holmes. But is his extraordinary intellect merely a gift of fiction, or can we learn to cultivate these abilities ourselves, to improve our lives at work and at home? We can, says psychologist and journalist Maria Konnikova, and in Mastermind she shows us how. Beginning with the “brain attic”—Holmes’s metaphor for how we store information and organize knowledge—Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights. Drawing on twenty-first-century neuroscience and psychology, Mastermind explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction. In doing so, it shows how each of us, with some self-awareness and a little practice, can employ these same methods to sharpen our perceptions, solve difficult problems, and enhance our creative powers. For Holmes aficionados and casual readers alike, Konnikova reveals how the world’s most keen-eyed detective can serve as an unparalleled guide to upgrading the mind. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The classic 1940 study of con men and con games that Luc Sante in Salon called “a bonanza of wild but credible stories, told concisely with deadpan humor, as sly and rich in atmosphere as anything this side of Mark Twain.” “Of all the grifters, the confidence man is the aristocrat,” wrote David Maurer, a proposition he definitely proved in The Big Con, one of the most colorful, well-researched, and entertaining works of criminology ever written. A professor of linguistics who specialized in underworld argot, Maurer won the trust of hundreds of swindlers, who let him in on not simply their language but their folkways and the astonishingly complex and elaborate schemes whereby unsuspecting marks, hooked by their own greed and dishonesty, were “taken off” – i.e. cheated—of thousands upon thousands of dollars. The Big Con is a treasure trove of American lingo (the write, the rag, the payoff, ropers, shills, the cold poke, the convincer, to put on the send) and indelible characters (Yellow Kid Weil, Barney the Patch, the Seldom Seen Kid, Limehouse Chappie, Larry the Lug). It served as the source for the Oscar-winning film The Sting.
A sucker is still born every minute. In this modern and interconnected world, con-men are lurking everywhere – it’s never been easier for them to dupe us, take from us, and infiltrate our lives. One of the world’s leading and celebrated experts on con-games takes the reader through the history of cons, how they’ve been updated to the modern age, how they work, how to spot them, and how to protect yourself from being the victim of one. R. Paul Wilson is a con-man who works for the other side – our side. He has spent a lifetime learning, performing, studying, and teaching about the ins and outs of the con world in order to open up our eyes to the dangers lurking about us – and to show us how not to get taken. Paul has never made a living as a con-man, profiting off of marks – he has used his expertise throughout his life to help people avoid cons. In this fascinating book, Paul takes the reader through the history and developments of the con game, what elements from the past are based on basic human psychology and have stood the test of time, what has been updated for the modern era and how it’s getting used in the computer age, the structure of how these cons work, and – most importantly - how to recognize one, protect yourself and your loved ones, and avoid becoming just another sucker.
This is a psychological study of charmers, con artists, and their hidden alter-ego, the abusers -- how they got that way, various profile examples, and how to recover from their artistry of killing you softly with their charm.

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