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Maria Konnikova – The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time

The Confidence Game_ Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time – Maria Konnikova (2016).azw3
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Maria Konnikova – The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It . . . Every Time

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.

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.


“Konnikova… is an insightful analyst of the dark art of the scam.”
—New York Times Book Review

“An unnerving manual for conning and getting conned.”  
—Washington Post

“Victims of cons, she argues, aren’t just the foolish and the ignorant. They’re often regular people who happen to be desperate or emotionally compromised by their circumstances.  For leaders, who largely pride themselves on being rational, strategic thinkers, the deception Konnikova’s research warns us about begins with that very emotion: pride….Leaders who get fooled are the ones who first manage to fool themselves.”
–Fast Company

“A thrilling psychological detective story investigating how con artists, the supreme masterminds of malevolent reality-manipulation, prey on our propensity for believing what we wish were true and how this illuminates the inner workings of trust and deception in our everyday lives.”
–Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

“In the Confidence Game, Konnikova plumbs the psychology and chemistry of why we all fall so readily for scams and cons—and why, thanks to the “Lake Wobegon Effect” and other forces, having fallen once, we’re even more susceptible the next time. 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. But you won’t think twice. You’ll still succumb, because that’s how we’re all wired. And here’s the irony—the smarter you think you are, the more readily you’ll fall, which is why New Yorkers are some of the easiest marks. (Clients of Bernie Madoff, we’re talking about you.) If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you’ll love this lucid and revelatory look into our oh-so-susceptible selves.”
—Erik Larson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and bestselling author of Devil in the White City

“The story of the con artist may be unmatched for combining human interest with insight into human nature, and star psychology writer Maria Konnikova explains their wiles to us with her characteristic clarity, flair, and depth.”
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Sense of style.

“In this remarkable book, Maria Konnikova shows that human beings are hardwired to believe—often to our peril. And with a deft mix of stories and studies, she explores what that means for how we think and, ultimately, who we are. Deeply researched and elegantly written, The Confidence Game will widen your eyes and sharpen your mind.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

“As an ambassador to AARP’s Fraud Watch Network which educates its members on protecting themselves from confidence games and scams, I found The Confidence Game an excellent resource. The best way to protect oneself from the confidence man is to understand the mind and motivation of the con man.”
—Frank W. Abagnale, subject of the movie, book, and Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can

“I really love Maria Konnikova’s writing. In a world of pseudoscience—of extreme polemical thought—her calm rationality is comforting and smart. I appreciate and believe her.”
—Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

“Maria Konnikova has written a compelling, engrossing account of the world of the con. I stayed up far too late reading it. Beautifully written, and filled with stories and thought-provoking psychological research, The Confidence Game will teach you how confidence artists operate—and how to outwit them.”
—Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter and author of The Power of Habit

About the Author

Maria Konnikova’s articles have appeared online and in print in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Slate, the New Republic, the Paris Review, the Wall Street Journal, Salon, the Boston Globe, the Observer, the Scientific American MIND, WIRED, and the Scientific American, among numerous other publications. Maria blogs regularly for the New Yorker and formerly wrote the “Literally Psyched” column for the Scientific American and the popular psychology blog “Artful Choice” for Big Think. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she studied psychology, creative writing, and government, and received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University.

Print Length: 340 pages
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: January 12, 2016


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