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Scamming: The Misunderstood Confidence Man (2015) [pdf] (yale.edu)
45 points by pmoriarty 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments



Fundamentally, a confidence scheme is any system where overwhelming pressure is brought on the mark to concentrate on the outcome, x, rather than the expectation value, xp(x), where p(x) is the probability of the outcome.


Explaining it in terms of a mathematical formula is probably not the most effective. You probably don't mean to be, but it comes off condescending.


Surely not more condescending than scolding a stranger for the way they express their own internal mental models...


I thoroughly disagree.

I understood with greater clarity and conciseness.

Numbers and models speak clear to me, so theres one data point


I agree that it’s probably not effective, just because most people aren’t that good with math, or don’t think of things in terms of math. But how is it condescending?


It comes off as slightly autistic but the concept is introduced to most people in terms of exactly the notation he used.


The concept of scamming cannot be precisely defined and outlawed. It is essentially a form of opportunism, "self-interest seeking with guile."5 The voluntary participation of the victims and the challenges associated with identifying scamming often result in skepticism toward the plausibility of scams and demands that individuals would be responsible for the choices they make.

Maybe I'm a little out of my depth criticizing an article by two professors from a college of law, but how on earth can you attempt to define scamming without mentioning fraud? The con-man willfully misrepresents his part of the transaction despite knowing the mark to believe otherwise. And it isn't a matter of subjective degree. In the Nigerian Prince scheme, for example, there is no prince, and there is no diamond fund tied up in escrow. It's a complete fabrication. That's the difference between market persuasion and crime.


“Giving an impression of future return” has a wide spectrum...from outright lies, to willful misleading, to over-confident misrepresentation, to accidental miscommunication, etc.

Does a work of art have any objective value? Well, the value is generated by society being pursuaded that it has value. It’s ability to continue to sustain value is dependent on continual re-buy-in of that premise.


What I'm saying is, there is a sharp difference between saying in 1895 when the young Picasso was still in training, to have taken a signed sketch he had thrown away and said "this is a work of art by an up and coming artist named Picasso - he's going to be one of the most renowned artists in the next century. I'll let you have it at a great deal", and making your own sketch last week with a forged Picasso's signature and saying "this is a genuine early work of Picasso". I don't see any ambiguity about the latter.




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