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Protect Yourself: Four Ways To Tell If Someone Is Trying To Emotionally Manipulate You

23 Apr

That salesperson may be trying to fool you. And perhaps your new boyfriend/girlfriend is, too. How can you tell?

As mentioned before (“How Do You Make Decisions?“), the reason that engineers are so successful at creating useful products is not because they are smarter than everyone else, it’s because their ideas are subjected to rigorous review. An engineer will be challenged by others during the review, mercilessly, to make sure that lousy ideas are squelched before they can do harm to the company’s profits or reputation. (Fear of embarrassment is a good motivator, so most engineers are well-prepared when they have to make a presentation.)

Therefore, whether you are considering the purchase of a product, the establishment of a new relationship, or for whom to vote in the next election, act as though you were going to have to justify your decision to a room full of tough-minded engineers. Remember, they will want to see your decision supported by research and logical analysis, not emotions or slogans.

HOW TO TELL IF SOMEONE IS TRYING TO FOOL YOU

1. Take My Word For It

People who are trying to sell you something can be very persuasive. But if they can’t back up their pitch with independent data (think Consumer Reports), beware. A lack of independent data is one of the best indicators of a dubious or fraudulent claim (e.g., see “Is EasyWater (The “No Salt Water Conditioner”) A Scam?“). Another example: Before you commit too much to a new relationship, find out what your prospective partner’s friends, acquaintances, and co-workers really think of him/her. Since many people will not offer negative information unless they’re asked, you might be very surprised at the answers you receive; e.g., “My son’s a lazy bum; I’m surprised you’re going out with him.”

2. Don’t Question Me, I’m The Authority

Be very wary of folks in positions of authority who bristle at your desire to ask questions, or to seek a second opinion. Although someone may speak with authority (“you need chemo”), there may be other equally-qualified experts who have different views (“whatever you do, don’t take chemo”). As a rule of thumb, true professionals will welcome your questions and encourage you to get other opinions.

3. This Will Solve All Your Problems

Avoid products or services that promise to quickly and simply solve all of your health / weight / relationship problems (a single vitamin supplement, an eat-all-you-want weight-loss plan, a “how to attract the man/woman of your dreams” with a breast/penis enlargement pill.)

4. Vote For Me And I’ll Protect You From Those Evil Folks Who Are Trying To Rip You Off

Unscrupulous politicians will try to gain your vote by:

a. trying to make you envious of others who have more money
b. running “us against them” ads
c. trying to make you feel that others who have a different skin color or ethnic background are out to take advantage of you
d. avoiding a discussion of specifics and resorting to generalized name-calling, such as:

-successful folks are greedy
-folks getting welfare/unemployment benefits are lazy cheats
-bankers, Wall Street workers, and insurance companies are crooks
-those who prefer community-based solutions, rather than federal mandates, are Social Darwinists who want to push grandma off a cliff
-folks who prefer a strong federal government are socialists or communists

e. using meaningless but emotionally-charged slogans (ET comments are in brackets):

-“tax breaks for the wealthy” [Who are the wealthy and why should they pay more? If  a person is very wealthy that does not mean that you must be less prosperous; in fact, the opposite is usually true. See “Why Pizzanomics Is Immoral“]

-“take back the country” [Is it missing? Has someone checked behind the couch cushions?]

-“affordable health care for all” [Why not food, clothes, autos, and iPads for all?]

-“liberals are un-American” [Which persons, specifically, and why?]

-“social justice” [A code word meaning, “we should eliminate income inequality.” But how can we make incomes equal without penalizing the industrious, the thrifty, and/or the lucky; i.e., without creating moral hazards?]

-“conservatives are stupid” [Which persons, specifically, and why?]

-“the 1% against the 99%” [See “More Thoughts On Forcing The Rich To Pay ‘Their Fair Share‘”]

-“only criminals want gun control” [As logical as “only gun owners want criminal control”]

-“we need government investment” [Governments do not invest; they just move money from the pockets of some citizens into the pockets of others, inefficiently (see “An Antidote For The Folly Of Government ‘Investment’“) and often in a corrupt fashion.]

-Ed Walker

 

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