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.
"The Confidence Game = major disappointment"
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", Konnikova unpacks the mental strategies that lead to clearer thinking and deeper insights.
"Mindless: How to Regurgitate Useless Information"
Con men are artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust. They hold a deep, enigmatic fascination for us. But how do they do it? Whether it's a suspicious-looking email or a multimillion-dollar global swindle, Maria Konnikova investigates the psychological principles that underlie each stage of the confidence game and the profile of both the con artist and his mark.
Our preferences for salt, sugar, and fat evolved within the context of our species’ historical nutritional scarcity. These basic tastes are the echoes of prehistoric signals that saw humanity through epochs of less abundant food sources. They made sense when we were hunter-gatherers eating only what we could kill; less so, when navigating the line at the local Subway. Indeed, our basic physiological response to taste is largely innate. Give an infant something sweet and she will lick it up.