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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > May June 2016 > The Art and Science of the Scam: Implications for Skeptics

The Art and Science of the Scam: Implications for Skeptics

The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time. By Maria Konnikova. New York: Viking, 2016. ISBN: 978- 0525427414. 352 pp. Hardcover, $28.

We’re all suckers. Well, to be more precise, we’re all suckers at least some of the time. Research conducted in 1996 by social psychologist Bella DePaulo, then at the University of Virginia, demonstrates that deception is part-and-parcel of everyday life. She asked participants to keep a diary of their fibs and discovered that most people lie about twice a day; they lie in about one-fifth of brief interpersonal interactions (of course, one might be tempted to ask whether some of them were lying about their lying, but that’s another matter). No wonder the English language contains an estimated 112 words referring to lies or variants thereof: bluff, deceit, deception, exaggeration, fable, fib, fiction, jive, mendacity, misrepresentation, prevarication, spin, untruth, whopper, and so on.

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