Scam Culture

A recent thoughtful essay by Tressie McMillan Cottom in the New York Times, "We're All 'Experts' Now. That's Not a Good Thing" offers multiple insights into metacognitive challenges and their consequences for society. Cottom suggests that it's not useful to make individuals responsible for knowing everything about everything and to blame them for their own victimization by cheaters. She also notes that it's unwise for people to view government and social order through a personal-profit-maximization lens. Among Cottom's key points:

  • "... Occam's razor is boring. Any good carnival psychic can tell you that anything is true at the right level of abstraction. Some of us mortals, though, live below the fold of abstract universal truths. ..."
  • "... scam culture is the foundation of the misinformation and disinformation that plagues our public discourse ..."
  • "... multilevel marketing, confidence games, pyramid schemes [are not] one-offs or individual phenomena [...] they all follow certain general patterns. ... From ugly leggings to a global financial crisis and back, all of these examples have the same social DNA: failing institutions, aspirational people and nefarious actors willing to exploit both. ..."
  • "... everybody is expected to be their own expert in everything, and are blamed for falling victim to disinformation ... social institutions are viewed like consumer goods, and are judged by how they serve the individual not the whole of society ..."
  • "... A consumerized republic comprised of self-interested citizens who exercise their civic responsibility by satisfying their individual consumer desires is one in which we can all be convinced that we know what is best. Here's the connection to scams: Research says that the very best scams play on our overconfidence. So a citizen consumer who thinks he or she is an expert in all manner of everyday decisions is the perfect mark for an endless string of scams. ..."

... important ideas worth pondering!

(cf Shoot the Moon (1999-12-29), Since Fire (2000-04-29), Money Mechanism Meaning (2001-02-15), Money Wisdom (2001-05-20), For Themselves (2003-06-08), Techniques of Financial Fraud (2015-05-02), Risk Shift (2019-06-02), ...) - ^z - 2022-01-14