If you want to con serious amounts of money out of other people, you’ve got to sell them a story and the story you sell, comes in one of two basic flavours.The first one is the traditional basis of most confidence tricks and at the end of the day, it revolves about their greed. If you’re not a greedy person, you’ll never really get badly conned. The greedier a person is, the more vulnerable they are. You spin them some story, sometimes pointing out how it’s not quite moral or perhaps not even legitimate at all but hey, you can both make some easy money if they’re not going to get too fussy about the thing.Sometimes, you hand them that obvious opening, which they think only they can see; a way of stiffing you for all the money you were both supposed to be sharing out at the end. That touch is even better in that it gives them an illusory sense of control over the whole situation. They’re the clever puppet masters and you’re the trusting idiot they’re going to rip off. People who think of themselves as good manipulators, tend to have a blind spot for being manipulated themselves and they way you do that is by appearing to hand control over to them.The second variety of story appeals to the exact opposite of greed and is the one most often used by climate scammers. You take advantage of the better angels of their nature, their altruism, and inveigle them into contributing generously into some scheme, which will be to the eternal relief of some segment of humanity which is suffering almost intolerable woes. It’s a much more flexible scheme in that there are so many more variations on altruism than there are on your basic greed. In contrast to the greed approach, they tend to hand over not only the money but also control of the situation. They’re trusting you to do good with the money.The big advantage it has over appealing to their greed, is that it doesn’t require what’s called the blow off stage at the end of the con. An ingenious blow off at the end of a con is the mark of an accomplished con man. When people are really expecting to get money in their hand at the end of the scheme, you really have to work hard to convince them that not only has everyone involved lost money, most especially you, but that they’re lucky to have gotten out of it without a jail sentence or even worse. That’s the blow off. Given the sometimes questionable legal ground of the particular con story, the last thing anyone is going to do is talk to the police.A petty con man isn’t clever enough to pull off that stage, which is why they have to move around a lot. They work a locale, pluck all the local pigeons and move on, because they don’t want to bump into an increasing number of angry marks, all of whom are painfully aware that they’ve been conned and are looking to do some serious payback.The altruism con also doesn’t require much in the way of a blow off stage, because whatever money they’ve parted with, they did so just to feel good about helping some other people out; they never seriously check out what happened to the money because they were never expecting any return on it. They’ve already waved goodbye to it. Ultimately, it’s the most cynical exploitation of people because you’re taking ruthless advantage of that most human of things; a tender heart.The basic story you sell for both of those variations constitute what’s called the hook, and once swallowed, the sting proceeds from there. Which variety is used on a particular mark comes down to how good you are at something called cold reading. People leak appalling amounts of information to complete strangers without a single thought. You meet them, the walk, the talk, the attitudes, the body language; pretty soon, you know which approach they look like they might fall for. In general, it’s the selfish ones, who absolutely know they’re hard-nosed, no-nonsense bastards, who’ll fall for the greed approach more often than not. You let them dominate you, because that relaxes them into their comfort zone where you can really get to work on them.Global warming is essentially a con. It’s nothing more than cynically extracting money from other people or gaining power and prestige at their expense using those same two types of story. Where is gets confusing at times is in identifying who is the mark and who is the con artist, with the added complication that sometimes they’re all con men busily screwing each other as well as us.
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