- May 1, 2015
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
- Libertarian - Right
I like to look at the fundamentals when in doubt. Let us entertain the question on whether Donald Trump is a confidence man playing a confidence trick on the nation.
In Confessions of a Confidence Man, Edward H. Smith (New York: Scientific American Publishing Company, 1923) lists the "six definite steps or stages of growth" of a confidence game. He notes that some steps may be omitted.
Preparations are made in advance of the game, including the hiring of any assistants required.
The victim is contacted.
The victim is given an opportunity to profit from a scheme. The victim's greed is encouraged, such that their rational judgment of the situation might be impaired.
Pay-off or Convincer
The victim receives a small payout as a demonstration of the scheme's effectiveness. This may be a real amount of money, or faked in some way. In a gambling con, the victim is allowed to win several small bets. In a stock market con, the victim is given fake dividends.
A sudden crisis or change of events forces the victim to act immediately. This is the point at which the con succeeds or fails.
A conspirator (in on the con, but assumes the role of an interested bystander) puts an amount of money into the same scheme as the victim, to add an appearance of legitimacy to the scheme. This can reassure the victim, and give the con man greater control when the deal has been completed.
In addition, some games require a "corroboration" step, particularly those involving a "rare item". This usually includes the use of an accomplice who plays the part of an uninvolved (initially skeptical) third party, who later confirms the claims made by the con man.