241. Sell It!

Over two thou­sand years ago, there was a philoso­pher, Laozi, who was sure that peo­ple were nat­u­rally good (some­one called Jesus Christ had the same idea). About the same time another char­ac­ter, Shâng Yâng, reck­oned they were nat­u­rally bad and invented an impres­sive list of pun­ish­ments. Funny, ancient his­tory seems to give us no wise guys who thought that peo­ple were nat­u­rally suck­ers. How did they miss such a deep human truth? Give me a rea­son, any rea­son, that your scam or your wid­get will work and I can sell it. It’s the story that sells, not the balm or the wid­get. (Well, except to a few bor­ing char­ac­ters who actu­ally want facts). Peo­ple always want to believe in some­thing, tai­lored in sim­plic­ity to their intel­li­gence. It just needs Joe Blogs to be given an attrac­tive rea­son and he’ll believe that the moon is made of cheese, so find out what he thinks adds up to an attrac­tive rea­son. Few peo­ple will admit that their own judge­ment is poor. Actu­ally the evi­dence for com­mon bad judge­ment is over­whelm­ing (e.g. exibit A: mar­riage with a 50% national fail­ure rate). How lucky. Since so many indi­vid­u­als make such infal­li­bly bad choices, the mar­ket has no ratio­nal bound­aries. A crooked oper­a­tor can par­ley almost any­thing into a dol­lar. Heck, even an hon­est man can sell fridges to Eski­mos.

(also see http://thormay.net/unwiseideas/aphorism.html for this and other Short­cuts)

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