Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MLM and Product Psychology

Today's blog post is about the excitement MLMers exhibit when it comes to their products. It is important to note, most MLM products are not unique, do not have any quantifiable research to support their claims, and can be found in retail outlets for a fraction of the price. Yet, MLMers treat their products as revolutionary and their enthusiasm can be comparable to the first iPhone launch. Some of the most common MLM products include, vitamins and supplements, makeup, water filtration units, dietary shakes, vacation packages, car assistance packages, cryptocurrencies, and life insurance. The two most important parts about MLM products, and why they choose these particular areas of the marketplace are, they are unregulated markets and they are highly subjective. MLMs choose to focus on these two markets because their rules are the most vague, and they can say unusually non-credible statements without getting into the same amount of trouble as others.

This leads to MLM's number one problem, getting people to care about their product or service. MLMers use psychological techniques to enhance excitement about their product or service, and the techniques fall into two main categories: individual and group. It is important that they use both styles of techniques, because we are biologically wired to be recognized as an individual and be part of a bigger group. Also by using the following techniques, it significantly disarms consumers from making rational decisions. Some individual techniques MLMers use are, smiles, light contact (hand shakes, hugs, shoulder touching), story sharing, and attentiveness. This helps feed into a consumer's ego and makes them feel important.  Some of the group techniques MLMers use are, forming "team" meetings at houses, and holding conferences at churches and stadiums. By showing people that they aren't alone, and by introducing high-levels of enthusiasm at meetings (large levels of applause for speakers, music, lights), it creates confidence that the "business opportunity" is real. Note, these techniques have nothing to do with learning about a "business opportunity" and are predominately used to sell something. These techniques do not make a person authentic and are often used as a means to an end.

MLMers create a false euphoria around their products and services, because they know very few people want the "opportunity" to go to family, friends, and strangers about soap, water filtration systems, dietary shakes, and makeup. By transforming the "J-O-B" into a dream making, unlimited potential, independent, "opportunity", it makes an extremely undesirable MLM into the choice of a lifetime. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MLM and Echo Chambers

Today's blog post is about the echo chambers in MLMs and how they fuel the core principles and beliefs held by fanatical MLMers. These echo chambers are designed to reinforce thought-stopping jargon created by MLM leaders for the sole purpose of retaining membership. Echo chambers strive to silence dissenting opinions while creating a euphoria for their "businesses". Echo chambers are one of the strongest foundations of MLM, and they continue to perpetuate cognitive dissonance for the MLM members. This cognitive dissonance refers to the inability to reconcile the damage people are doing to themselves and others under the guise of helping others to achieve wealth and happiness.

Echo chambers can be regularly found in a multitude of categories. In recent news, James Damore, a former Google senior software engineer, wrote about the ideological echo chamber created in the Google work environment involving the sexes. We have echo chambers at American universities, in which opposing viewpoints to the left's agenda have been met with protests and violence. We have echo chambers in the American main stream media, in which certain media outlets choose to report on the issues they feel are important. And most importantly, with the proliferation of the internet, we have created our own echo chambers and surrounded ourselves with the information we want supported by the people we like. We have created a world which has become polarized, and we have strayed very far from the original principles of healthy dialogue.

These echo chambers impede progress and the ability to think freely. It is important to listen to people with opposing viewpoints, understand why they have those viewpoints, and then proceed to engage in dialogue. If a person cannot remove themselves from their echo chamber, then they can become victims of control. The development of this control over our thoughts and feelings is seamless and can happen very quickly. The echo chamber allows a person or group to dictate all information their followers receive, and can create a potentially damaging situation without the followers realizing they are being controlled. This also creates an inherent laziness to try and understand why a person is giving certain information, which gives more power to the leaders because the followers will not question anything.

Echo chambers are MLM leader's most powerful weapons. By creating an environment in which unquestioning obedience is mandatory, they can say and do anything without consequence. I previously attended a MLM seminar, called "Freedom Enterprise Days", in which only MLM members and recruits were allowed, and each MLM leader came out on stage with the same message. This seminar did not have a question and answer portion and the MLM leaders did not engage with the potential recruits. Instead, they showed a video that was carefully choreographed, followed by a story or monologue, and ended with thunderous applause. Each leader that approached the stage had nearly identical formulas, and they repeated this process for two and a half days. There was no ability to fact check their statistics, there was no proof their stories were truthful or relevant, and yet people listened to them with undying faith. This lack of skepticism is extremely dangerous, and it costs people billions of dollars annually.

Arguably the greatest gifts people have are free will and free thought, yet people instinctively give up these gifts regularly in the pursuit of satisfying their needs. Confidence people understand how to control others by taking the former assets away. They offer love, security, answers, and anything else a person may need due to vulnerability. It is up to each individual to be accountable for their actions. The ability to ask why, as Socrates did, is our greatest weapon to protect ourselves from intellectual predators.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MLM and The Emotional Thermometer

Today's blog post is about the separation of emotions from business. Too often, people utilize emotions to make important decisions, and business is one of the worst areas in which this occurs. Business should involve a calm and collected mind, but MLM is different as they tend to focus on the high-energy and fast-paced illogical hard-sell. MLMs specifically focus on the emotions and irrational side of the brain, because the numbers are particularly horrific. In a cursory Google search, one can find income disclosure sheets for a number of MLMs, and they show MLMs have extremely high failure rates and below minimum wage earnings across the vast majority of their population. Therefore, it is important for MLMs to go out of their way to distract from, or ignore these numbers, if they intend to continue to grow.

Emotions can be synonymous with temperature, hence the term emotional thermometer. It is important to regularly check our emotions, and analyze why certain situations evoke a larger or more intense emotional response than others. For example, if there is a particular situation in which I get angry, then I often reflect on that experience and try to understand why I got so "hot headed". This is important because the higher the emotional level, the less likely rational thought will be implemented. It is important to have emotions but they must be balanced. Any emotional extreme can lead to poor decision making, and ultimately can cause a lot of harm.

MLMs utilize psychological techniques to make people as emotional and non-rational as possible. They hold seminars, sometimes as long as an entire weekend, designed to eliminate critical thought by means of high-intensity content. Instead of pitching the "opportunity" as accurately as possible, they utilize "love-bombing", music, lights, anecdotal commentary, and dreams. These mechanisms are designed to obfuscate reality and invert the damning statistics. They do nothing to prepare a potential prospect with training, and they do not reveal the costs of the "business" until a person has been primed by hours of meaningless content. Their ultimate goal is to get a person as "pumped" as possible, because the higher the "pump" the less likely people are to question the motives and information.

Again, if MLMs were as accurate and direct as possible then they would fail, which is why they spend tons of money holding "seminars", "meetings", "trainings", and other unnecessary "functions" to subvert a person's critical faculties. They want someone's emotional thermometer to be as high as possible, because that will lead to a person's inability to dissociate fantasy from reality. Salespersons often focus on building relationships over the quality or content of their goods and services, because that can be more effective when closing the sale. It is important to remember this, because the "opportunity" is actually a big hard-sell to get a prospect to spend their hard earned dollars (or other currency) on the MLM.

One of my favorite expressions is: "If you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you." (Paul Newman) The same can be said for MLM. If you can't tell why the MLMers care about you so much, especially compared to the way an average person treats you, then you are the perfect sucker they target.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

MLM and "Team Phoenix" the Halloween Special, with a Scary Character Known as Brandon Odom

Today's blog post is about Brandon Odom, the creator of "Team Phoenix", and how he decided to join a MLM called "Enagic" and create a "new" way to recruit. His technique isn't actually new, but it is cleverly modified, and it does seem to be working. He is using the technique of providing a "system" in which "90%" of the work is already "completed", and all you have to do is post advertisements. Once you have posted an advertisement, simply lead the prospect to his videos and let him take care of the rest. The problem is, the way in which you make money is directly correlated to the dollars a new member spends on an Enagic machine, and you will not make any money if the prospects do not purchase this machine. There are no retail sales to outside consumers, there is no formal training about the product, aside from some goofy home made YouTube videos by current members with no formal experience in this field, and there is no control over how you want to run the "business". This, much like organizations such as "WWDB" for Amway, is another cheesy rendition of a "fool-proof system" that is designed to profit off of, rather than enrich the adherents.

Here is a link to his, "The Dream Life Blueprint":


Some key visual techniques he uses are, bigger than usual font,

lots of spacing to make the text easier to read,

bold text in random places, bold and yellow text for really "important" stuff or bold italicized words, emoji's, and pictures. All of these devices are used to create a personal connection to the reader. Because he can't personally use his voice and character, he uses these techniques to create the person he thinks you want him to be, and this is his way of manipulating the targets into trusting him.

He also chooses to use language that targets a younger age group, particularly those that have just gotten out of the military or college and are looking for their next step in life. He uses testimonials, with pictures of young folks, to help make the targeting more effective, as well as emojis and a very informal writing style. He knows, probably from many years of practice, that his target market, is going to be between the ages of 25-40, and predominantly people that are in a transition period in life.

Here is a  synopsis of this 24-page "blueprint":

Pages 1-4: This is the "introduction" (I use quotes because he doesn't actually tell you anything about the "business"), which is designed to create a persona in which a prospect can relate. He tells you a story about his life, which could be true or could be embellished. He talks about the "struggle" that every MLMer loves to mention and he doesn't hold back on trigger phrases such as, "Imagine waking up without an alarm clock", "in your brand new life", "a few thousand bucks", "you only started this venture 5 months ago but are already earning enough money to replace you're [sic] full-time income", "you're spending more time with family", "you're getting out of debt", "you've got piece [sic] of mind for retirement security", and many more. 

He also uses hyperbole to emphasize his success and dedication to creating his "system". He mentions his income is "over 6-figures", he claims he "lost over $100,000" originally, and he says he has helped people earn "millions of dollars" in commissions. This should be taken very lightly since the average MLMer makes around $2,400.00 a year, which includes the top .1% that make hudreds of thousands or millions, and most wouldn't have, or be willing to risk, "$100,000" on any investment. Also, "millions of dollars" in commissions is incredibly vague, especially since he doesn't say how many people it took to get to that number, and means virtually nothing. If it took a million people to get to two million in commissions, that would be a very bad opportunity. It is important to consider the potential spin created by statements like these.

Pages 5-9: This section is a bunch of testimonials from average looking young couples (oddly they are all white) and their success. The success they describe in these testimonials is NOT normal, and this section violates the FTC's rules about using misleading testimonials. Again, the average MLMer doesn't make anything close to the claims these people are making. On a side note, the person that originally tried to get me to join is one of the people giving a testimonial, Ashley Krooks (fitting name), and you can read about that experience in my previous "Team Phoenix" post (http://themlmsyndrome.blogspot.com/2017/05/mlm-and-team-phoenixa-new-con.html). Again, he bolds all of the monies that were claimed to be made by these people, as well as a few trigger phrases, yet he still hasn't told us what the "business" is, how we make money, or anything else that would be relevant to this subject.

Pages 10-15: This section finally begins his "blueprint" meaning the first 9 pages were completely irrelevant drivel. This particular section focuses on his first step, "Find the perfect 'high ticket' [sic] offer to promote". He emphasizes "high-ticket" (I don't understand why he puts that in quotes), because Enagic water machines are extremely expensive, and he is trying to create a logical reason for why people should spend thousands of dollars. He suggests that high-ticket items are better to sell because you don't need to sell to as many customers. His example about why high-ticket items are better is hilariously faulty, he suggests it is better to make $1,000 dollar commission on machines that cost over $4,000 (25%), than it is to sell something for $27.00 and make a $12.00 commission (44%). Percentages are what matter, and it is much more practical to sell something for $27.00 than over $4,000.00 to the public.

He then uses an Alinsky tactic by suggesting this isn't MLM. He says, "...you've probably looked into various ways of earning extra money from home before. Maybe you even got involved with a multi-level marketing (MLM) program." It isn't a coincidence that he only mentions MLM as a way of making money from home, because Enagic is a MLM, and his "Team Phoenix Marketing" is just a propaganda machine to help recruit people into the MLM. This lie, aside from being bizarre, is the ultimate betrayal of trust. He suggests this is something different from any other MLM, and yet it is exactly the same. He even brings up the "60% to 75% attrition rate for distributors in the first year", which he cleverly uses as a lie to act as though his "business" is something different. He actually takes a damning statistic and spins it to meet his need.

Finally, he goes into another bizarre example involving price and value. Here is his logic, "the price doesn't matter as long as the customer believes deep down they are getting more value than the money they're paying. In other words, as long as you can deceive the person into believing they are getting something of tremendous value, then you can charge them whatever you want. This is one of his most honest lines, and it shows his delusional thought process. Value determines price, period. If something has more value, then the price will get higher. Because the Enagic machine has no value, because it doesn't work, you have to make the person "believe" they are getting a great value. This the logic every snake-oil salesperson uses.

He still hasn't told us the product is Enagic, but he has tried to get us to enroll in his "webinar", which will hopefully be more informational.

Pages 15-17: This section focuses on "Step #2: Create an 'Automatic' Sales Process" (again I'm not sure why he puts automatic in quotes)

First he says, "Your customers need to know, like and trust you in order for them to buy from you." This is the heart of the deceit. The product isn't relevant, and instead it is all about creating the relationship. This is important, because the product he is trying to sell doesn't actually have any value. Therefore, the only way to sell this product is to get "customers" to "know, like and trust" the snake-oil salesman. 

Next he talks about his "sales funnel". Once a person signs up for his webinar, or enters an e-mail address, it is game on. You will be subjected to repeat e-mails, daily, and invitations to continuously join his "webinar". This can be automated, meaning you can have an e-mail saved to a program, and then it will shoot it out to anyone that gives their information, and it won't stop until they unsubscribe. I previously signed up for his e-mail, and received at least 3 e-mails a day, every day, and didn't get any repeat e-mails for a week. He has put a lot of time into these automated e-mails, and the e-mails, much like this "blueprint", contain nothing about the product and focus solely on trigger phrases and emotional garbage.

At the end of this section he says, "**Special Bonus: When you work with me and my team we close sales on your behalf! Watch until the end to learn more**". Again, all he wants you to do is create advertisements for him, and he never wants you to mention his product "Enagic".

He also inserts another link to watch his "Webinar".

Pages 17-21: This section focuses on, "Step #3: Find People That Will Become Customers AKA 'Targeted Traffic'".

This section will focus on creating Facebook advertisements. This is niche version of creating a "system" that will help generate "sales" to "customers". The problem is, the "system" is already saturated with the people from the testimonials section, the sales are simply disguised pay-to-play fees, and the customers are only members of the organization.

His opening paragraph has this line, "Products and services don't sell themselves. People are the ones that give value to other people in exchange for money." This is some seriously spun nonsense. Products sell themselves all the time with catchy labels, nice looking bottles, preferred shelf space, and most importantly, the ability to work. People are necessary to promote a product, and create attention toward the product, but all of that is irrelevant if the product is garbage. I don't care how good a sales person is, if they are selling bovine excrement, then they will not get sales (supposing they aren't using deceit).

He then says, "I can show you not only how to profitably get offers in front of a lot of people on social media but how to get them in front of right people that will buy!"

This, much like the rest of this, is incredibly spun to sound significant. He is only offering to help create targeted ads on Facebook, and this is something Facebook and its development team has painstakingly worked on to make as easy as possible. He doesn't have some special hidden knowledge, much like a cult leader, and this doesn't guarantee any of the successes listed in the above testimonials. In fact, since those others have already saturated the market with their advertisements, chances are strong your advertisements will not be nearly as successful.

He then uses his other "business", "Batchata Addiction", as an advertisement sample, but it is really just an extra promotion for himself. He doesn't actually talk about the process of creating a Facebook advertisement. The advertisement he posted was also a resounding failure, from a business perspective, as he spent over double on advertising compared to the typical marketing budget.

Finally, he uses more trigger phrases such as, "I've spent tens of thousands of dollars just on Facebook ads alone (and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from them)." I'll call BS on that one, and you have now created a way to get people to pay you to spend money on Facebook advertisements instead of yourself AND they are paying you to do it. Another trigger phrase, "earn over $4,000 a month in commissions from my own high-ticket sales, how I'm earning residual (passive) income at the same time." Again, I'll call BS, and it isn't "passive" or "residual" if you have to keep promoting it constantly, spend lots of money, and constantly host "webinars". That is the opposite of passive.

He wraps this section by adding another link to his webinar, and still hasn't talked about "Enagic".

Pages 21-24: This section, commonly referred to in sales as "the offer".

This section also never refers to the actual "business opportunity" (Enagic), and is only designed as a sales pitch for his own "teaching".

He starts with a meaningless recapitulation of the three steps, and then talks about the cost of his program. He says, "We planned on pricing our community membership at $499 initially. That's a killer deal for everything you get with it (more on that in a sec) but we wanted to help as many people as possible get started with their own online business so we tossed that out the window."

Lots of stuff going on in this section. First, that "$499" is a ridiculous number and should be laughed at. Second, anyone that follows up a ridiculous number with "that's a killer deal", should really be laughed at. Third, why bold "help as many people as possible"? That's not the most important part of this statement, and this language is code for extract as much money from people as possible (obviously people aren't willing to pay $499 for some random guy's "training).

Brandon then says, "It's only $99 dollars to get started and its 100% Risk-Free." 

Again, lots to unpack here. First, how many different attention grabbing devices does he need for this sentence? There might as well have been a loud siren coming out of the speakers at the same time. This looks like someone just hit the lottery. Second, how did he just chop the price down 75%? This sales tactic is known as "price anchoring", and it has become a rampant problem in most retail settings. Anything can be marked down 75% as long as the starting price is high enough, and the idea of that large savings is enticing enough to fool lots of people into paying the real retail cost. Third, and most importantly, any time someone says, "guarantee", "risk-free", "fool-proof", or any of these other disarming phrases, you must be MORE armed. These phrases are not needed if something is legitimate, and are only used to manipulate people when things aren't legitimate. Again, if someone uses a term like "100% Risk-Free" (which is redundant), you should be running in the other direction.

As if this doesn't get worse, he then says,

"Pretty sweet deal huh?"

"So...what's the catch?"

"There is NO catch."

This is as bad as it gets. The visual attention grabbing devices are over utilized. The self-contained conversation is bizarre. The the reiteration of a non-risk "opportunity" screams the opposite. This is the cheesiest and most awful sales tactics a person could use.

He gets into his return policy, which he very generously cuts in half from the usual 30 days. He says, "We're going to give you complete access to our entire training suite, marketing system and community for a FULL 14 days to decide if our program is for you. That is your 'due diligence' period." The fact that he is calling this a "due diligence" period is ridiculous. 14 days (not sure why he chose that number) is not enough time to verify whether this program is effective, unless you already know its junk.

Finally, he talks again about the price only this time it has become a monthly subscription. He says, "we only charge $99 (USD) per month for you to maintain an active subscription and get full access to everything we provide." Wait, a second. Didn't he just say this was a $499.00 program that became a $99.00 program, yet now it could be as high as $1,188.00 a year and continue to charge? This is beyond ridiculous. The idea that you would have to maintain a subscription for a one-time teaching about Facebook ads is criminal, and he is preying on people that are extremely vulnerable.

Brandon Odom, if you are reading this, I have reported you and your garbage to the FTC, and I want you to know that your days are numbered. This type of exploitative and manipulative garbage is not acceptable and should not be ignored. You are a burden and a parasite on society.


I will be adding comments from Brandon Odom's apologists to this post. These people are important to acknowledge because they reflect cult-like manipulation Brandon has used on them.

Here is the a comment from "Michael Caldwell" on 10/31/17:

Wow, that was quite the read. And absolutely missed the mark entirely. So much time and effort spent to try and tear down something that has helped so many. You can report Brandon Odom and Team Phoenix all you want. You can scream from the highest mountain that we are all scammers and this is all bullshit. And you will still be wrong.

The system literally is only $99/month to start up. Should you like the business opportunity Enagic presents then you make a purchase of YOUR CHOICE and get started. There is ZERO catch. Dont like it? Cancel for a refund. It couldnt be any simpler than that. 

This community is full of some of the most incredible people ive ever had the pleasure of meeting. Enagics products are INCREDIBLE, and Enagic itself is beyond reproach. Go ahead, report them to. Im sure that will affect their A+ standing with the BBB. 

If you focused this energy into self improvement and working towards a future of your design you would be absolutely blown away with the results. 

Thanks for the flame on my post, ill use push myself even harder to prove every single piece of hatred and doubt in that post wrong. 

Thank you Brandon for all youve done.

Important points to focus on in this comment,

The $99.00 a month has nothing to do with Enagic. That fee is for the "Team Phoenix Marketing" program. There is no requirement to be in "Team Phoenix Marketing" if you want to be an Enagic distributor. This is the same type of scam program World Wide Dream Builders is to Amway. Michael Caldwell has attempted to conflate the two.

Enagic's products are not "INCREDIBLE", in fact they don't work at all. Lazy Man does an excellent job investigating Enagic here, http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/kangen-water-scam/

The BBB is not a credible reference for MLM legitimacy. You should look to the FTC for this.

Here is a comment from "Derk Hagglund" on 10/31/17

Shit works bro, have fun at your 9-5 Why post a picture of someone else, and since when did some goofy giant check mean anything? As many of us have learned, it isn't impossible to be successful in MLM, but the success comes from the losses of many. Another person that presumes I am in a "9-5" because I don't do MLM. Interesting trend.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

MLM and Affirming a Disjunct Fallacy

Today's blog post is about a fallacy, which is very similar to the "Us vs. Them" mentality, called affirming a disjunct. The fallacy is predicated on the idea that there are two options to determine an outcome and as long as one of the options is true, then the other option must be false. The idea that an outcome can be determined by only two options, and that those options can't both be true or false, makes this logic inherently flawed for any complex situation. It would be similar to approaching every decision in life as a true or false examination.

Description: Making the false assumption that when presented with an either/or possibility, that if one of the options is true that the other one must be false.  This is when the “or” is not explicitly defined as being exclusive.

Here is a basic example of this fallacy:

Is it going to be sunny or rainy today? It rained between 7-9 am. Therefore it must not be sunny today.

This example illustrates the inability to determine the answer based on the two options given. The day could be rainy in the morning and sunny in the afternoon, or if you are in Hawaii, it could be sunny while it rains. These two options cannot clearly and concisely determine the outcome. While the example listed above is very basic, there are many complex situations in which we use this fallacy regularly to determine an outcome, and often it goes unnoticed, or worse, creates anger and violence.

A more prominent example would be, is abortion right or wrong?

The idea that abortion could be labeled as "right" or "wrong" is inherently flawed because the question involves subjectivity, where as "right" and "wrong" would involve objectivity. People commonly make this mistake when trying to define a moral argument, and often have difficulty accepting the outside influences which determine the answer. Abortion can be both "right" and "wrong", and usually is determined by a long list of variables such as, a person's religious beliefs, a particular society's beliefs, or a person's moral beliefs. This is why topics, such as abortion, are continuously discussed, and often mishandled, because people want to arbitrarily label them as "right" or "wrong" and pretend they aren't complex.

MLMs utilize this fallacy for their self-gain as well. They create false dichotomies to evoke an emotional, non-critical response, in their targets. These false dichotomies are designed to lead a prospective MLMer in a desired direction, and are also designed to shut down their cognitive faculties.

An example of MLMs using this fallacy is: There are only two ways to get through life, "Work a 9-5 J-O-B", or be an "entrepreneur" (this isn't really entrepreneurial) and join "MLM".

They will take it a step further and load the desired answer by suggesting working the "9-5 J-O-B" is going to take many years before retiring, will make someone else fabulously rich while you work for less, will require you to take minimum amounts of vacation, and many other fear mongering lines. After hearing all of this, they will basically make a prospect choose between MLM or doom.

The logic in this example is inherently flawed as there are many ways to make money aside from "MLM" and a "9-5 J-O-B", such as investing, or actually owning a business, or buying and renting real-estate. The idea that you have only these two options in life, and that MLM is going to be better than a "9-5 J-O-B" is false, and according to the MLM income disclosure statements 99% of people working "9-5 J-O-B's" actually make more money.

Another example of MLM using this fallacy is: If you want to be happy and make your dreams come true, then you must either join MLM or become a "traditional" entrepreneur.

They will then load the desired answer again by talking about all of the risks involved in the "traditional" method, as well as the barriers to entry. A MLMer will suggest "traditional" entrepreneurs must invest large sums of money, potentially be unprofitable for years, and have a huge risk of failure, and all of this is accurate. However, they leave out the part where MLM can also require large amounts of money, will be potentially unprofitable for years (and for over 95% never profitable), and has a huge risk of failure. They also leave out the fact that most of the people living the "happy" lives and have the "dreams" that came true are business owners, not MLMers.

The example leaves out the many options in which someone can be happy and make their dreams come true outside of MLM and entrepreneurship. Many skilled laborers such as, physicians, lawyers, engineers, software developers, and many others, make large sums of money and live very successful lives. Far more of these people with advanced degrees make large sums of money than MLMers and many of them make more money than entrepreneurs. Again, the idea that you have to be a MLMer or a "traditional" entrepreneur to live a happy life is far too general.

Always be wary of people suggesting there are only two options for any given choice, especially if one of the options is clearly flawed. Human beings are complex individuals and it is extremely rare that any decisions can only have two options. This is one of the best parts of being a person, we don't have to limit ourselves to a particular set of standards, and often what works for one person will not work for the next.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

MLM and Affirming The Consequent Fallacy

Today's blog post is about a trickier fallacy to identify known as affirming the consequent. This fallacy is effective because it starts with a valid or true statement and then spins that into an erroneous one. Therefore, we have to identify the error in the bridge from the original statement to the conclusion, which is difficult because most people will focus on this part the least. It is also difficult because the abuser of the fallacy may skip the bridge entirely and simply start with a correct statement and then leap to the erred conclusion. If you are unprepared to identify why the conclusion is wrong, then you may be more easily convinced by other faulty logic.

Here is the definition of affirming the consequent fallacy: "It is categorical in nature and, essentially, means reversing an argument, or putting the cart before the horse, meaning reversing or confusing the general category with the specific/sub-category.  Note that in this fallacy the premises/reasons are actually correct or valid; the error is found between the premises and conclusion.  Usually, the error occurs because we incorrectly assume that the Premise was a sufficient condition, when in fact it was only a necessary condition (one of many conditions) necessary to prove the conclusion."

In case that was confusing, let's first understand the difference between a "sufficient condition" and a "necessary condition". A sufficient condition or conditions is made up of necessary conditions which are used to predict the outcome of an event. The necessary conditions, alone, cannot be utilized to predict the outcome of an event because there are other necessary conditions that can affect the outcome. In other words, a necessary condition is a piece of a pie, whereas a sufficient condition is the entire pie.

An example of a sufficient condition: If I score an average of 95% on all of my assessments, then I will receive an A in my class.

An example of a necessary condition: If I don't get a 95% on my final exam, then I won't receive an A in my class.

The main difference between the two examples is the way they are implicated. The first condition assumes every score will add up to 95%, whereas the second example ignores all previous necessary conditions which brought us to the need for a 95% on the final exam.

The difference between the two examples is significant because people will try to use a necessary condition to prove a conclusion, even though the conclusion is created by a much more complex set of conditions. To assume you didn't receive an A in a class because you didn't get a 95% on a final exam could be erroneous because there were other grades that also affected the outcome.

Here is another example of how a necessary condition can be used incorrectly:

My car requires gas to move, therefore any time my car isn't moving it is out of gas. Obviously this is flawed as there are many reasons for why a car stops moving.

MLMs utilize this fallacy as a means to transfer fault from the MLM to the user. An MLM will try to use a necessary condition, such as "hard-work" to indicate whether or not a MLMer is successful. Even though "hard-work" or "effort" may have some correlation to success in MLM, it is far from the only variable to determine the outcome. In fact, most people would argue it has very little do with success in MLM because the actual opportunity for success is extremely low (often less than 1%). The opportunity is also an important necessary condition, again arguably more important than "hard-work", and yet a MLMer may completely leave that out when casting judgment on people that have failed in MLM. To an untrained victim of this faulty logic it may be very persuasive.

A popular example of affirming the consequent used by MLMers is, "In 2-5 years, you can earn residual income", or "In 2-5 years, you can retire from your J-O-B". Unfortunately, much like the "hard-work" example, time is not a sufficient condition for determining success in MLM. Many people have been in MLM for decades and have not retired or earned residual income, and an overwhelming majority of MLMers do not succeed in 2-5 years. Yet, MLMers will continue to repeat this line as though it is an inevitability, an infallible truth, or even a commandment.

It is important to remember that MLMers have a financial bias when it comes to recruitment and will often utilize fallacies, such as affirming the consequent, to achieve their goals and earn an extra dollar. That should be a sufficient condition for understanding why a MLMer says things that you want to hear and can be designed to mislead you into making a poor decision for your financial future.



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

MLM and 12 Classic Propaganda Techniques Pt. 3


Today's blog post is going to finish the classic propaganda techniques series. Again, these techniques can be utilized for a multitude of purposes and are designed for one person to take advantage of another. This does not have to strictly apply to MLM, and often doesn't, which is why it is even more necessary to fully understand their uses and effects. There will always be people trying to deceive and manipulate others, therefore it is our to prepare and arm ourselves against these antagonists. Without further ado, let's dig into the rest of the list.

7) "False Equivalence:  Attempting to equate vastly different situations to one’s advantage.
Narcissists use false equivalencies to justify their unreasonable views and grandiose needs as well as to avoid responsibility for their destructive behaviors.
Example:  Reaction from a narcissistic parent after raiding an adult child’s bank account:  "'Yes, I emptied your account. But don’t forget, you once stole a dollar from your younger brother when you were six.'"
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False equivalence is one of the most common MLM tactics currently used. In fact, most of my previous posts about common MLM rhetoric have something to do with false equivalence. In this instance I would like to focus on one of the most repeated lines by MLM proponents, "Corporate America is a pyramid scheme". MLMers focus on the shape of a corporate hierarchical structure, which is a pyramid, therefore everything else about it must qualify as a pyramid scheme. This premise is clearly flawed, and the main reason a pyramid scheme is illegal doesn't have to do with its shape, but rather with the way a good or service is distributed, in the case of MLM.

In general, product pyramids focus on sales of goods or services to their distributors rather than the public. This becomes problematic because there has to be an outside demand for the product or service and there has to be an external revenue source. If the revenue is only generated from members within the organization, then there cannot be any new revenue and the people that joined last will not make any money, because there isn't anyone below them to make them money. In other words, if you joined in last, you are going to lose money in this structure. This is known as a "closed-market swindle" (Brear).

The fact that product pyramids (MLMs) share the same shape as a corporate hierarchical structure, is an unfortunate coincidence and should be treated as such. Other than the shape, there is no reason for the two to have any relationship.

8) Gish Gallop:  A rapid-fire series of assertions, questions and accusations launched at another without giving a chance to respond.
Named after the 20th century creationist Duane Gish, this technique attempts to convince or overwhelm others by listing many shorthand arguments, any one of which could be easily refuted, but the collective weight of which seem convincing and would take time and effort to refute.
Narcissists love the feeling of power and dominance that comes from spitting out multiple statements that make others appear foolish or ignorant.
Example:  A narcissistic partner when criticized:  “How dare you question me? I’ve given you everything you have. Do you think you could have survived without my help? I’ve accomplished more in the last week than you have in a year. Who would you be without me? You think your friends would lift a finger if you really needed it? You’re often so wrong you don’t even realize it. I’m surprised you’ve managed to survive this long.”
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This technique is utilized by veterans of MLM. MLMers that have mastered parroting all of the usual thought-stopping rhetoric and can repeat it upon command are great at this, because the faster they can rattle it off, the more knowledgeable they appear. In fact, they begin to develop a confidence behind their parroting which creates more of an illusion of expertise.

An example of this is when I attended my first Amway meeting. The presenter was Mike Carroll, an Amway diamond, and he was extremely good at repeating the same tired MLM lines about "building a business" correctly and went through all the bad comparisons with a "regular 9-5 job". By the time he was done talking about building "someone else's dreams", being a "slave to an hourly wage", "working for the man", never having "vertical opportunity", "losing time with family", "never getting to take longer vacations", and "investing in yourself rather than someone else", the ability to think critically was massively under attack. It was hard to stop, think, and analyze all of the nonsense he had rattled off, and it was almost automatic, to nod your head and become a believer. This use of "Gish Gallop" was so effective it got people out of their chairs and at one point had them screaming with joy.
9) "Lesser of Two Evils:  Giving someone only two undesirable options of which one is far more catastrophic.
Narcissists use this to justify or excuse control, abuse, or other excesses.
Example:  A narcissistic parent to an adult child:  'Yes, you were hit you as a child when you misbehaved. Would you rather have been sexually abused? Count your blessings.'"

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MLMers love to use the lesser of two evils, and funny enough, they don't realize when they are doing it. MLMers have constantly used the line, "Are you going to work a 9-5, or become an entrepreneur", or some variant to the point they stopped thinking about the positive side to working an hourly job. There are a lot of blessings working for someone else, and being your own boss is not for everyone. The amount of responsibility alone could drive most people away from starting their own businesses, and most people don't have the desire to truly build something from the ground up. It takes a lot of time, effort, and sometimes money, which are all factors that create barrier to entry. Yet, MLMers act like it is the easiest and most desirable choice, and the only choice, to combat working a "9-5 job", or "working for a boss", or "making someone else's dreams true", or some other nonsense. The truth is, most people do work for someone else, and there are many people making very lucrative salaries without starting their own businesses. There are many other options other than, entrepreneur or de facto slave.
10) "Repetition / Ad Nauseam:  Repeating a word or phrase endlessly to sidetrack discussion.
The goal is that if something is said often enough, others may start to believe it. It also is a way of dismissing what another is saying my simply talking over them, repeating a stock phrase or being unresponsive to further discussion.
Example:  A narcissistic boss to employee:  "'I’ve made up my mind. That’s all there is to it. My mind is made up. When I make up my mind, my mind is made up. Period.'”
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The above is a picture of "Boxer" from George Orwell's, "Animal Farm"

MLMers use repetition a lot, and they do it because they know it works. In a previous post from this series, there was a propaganda technique known as "The big lie". "The big lie" gets exponentially more powerful when it is accompanied with repetition, and it showed during a Dateline expose involving an undercover reporter attending a major Amway function. People in the crowd were screaming "Flush that stinkin' job!", and were also screaming "Freedom!", and yet none of them realized they were never going to achieve either of those dreams. In reality, if they did Amway full-time, then they would actually be replacing that "stinkin' job" with a different one, and there never was the opportunity for "Freedom!", because nobody ever retires from Amway. The most successful members were still peddling the dream on stage, and according to the income disclosure statements, 95+% of those people in attendance would never make enough to live. Yet they continued to repeat the same thoughtless lies, screaming in glee, because the repetition had taken over and stopped them from thinking about what they were actually saying.
11) "Scapegoating:  Falsely blaming one individual for a group’s problems.
Scapegoating is one of narcissists’ favorite tactics because it can accomplish many things at once: making others feel inferior; getting other people to go along with the narcissist in ostracizing someone; gaining a feeling of power at orchestrating a group action; hiding or distracting from anything that would make the narcissist look bad; and evading the narcissist’s responsibility for creating part of the problem.
Example:  A meddling narcissistic relative:  'You’re the reason this entire family is a mess.'”
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MLMers utilize scapegoating to try and discredit the horrifying statistics that describe all parts of MLM. Some of the statistics include, 95+% of MLMers don't make money, 50% of MLMers quit in the first year, 90% quit in 5 years, and 95% quit in 10 years (according to "The Balance", but I believe these percentages are low), and my personal favorite 100% of MLMers do not "retire" on "residual income". Their response to these statistics is to scapegoat the MLMers that didn't make it. MLMers may say, "they didn't follow the system", "they didn't try hard enough", "they didn't have the right mindset", or some other nonsense, but of course the sobering reality is all MLMs are a ruse. MLMs are responsible for these failure rates, and the creators of MLMs know the "business opportunity" is not viable. If someone can say something, in science, with 95% certainty, then that would be treated as fact until otherwise noted. To date, nobody has been able to disprove these tragic statistics.
12) Tu Quoque:  From the Latin for “You too,” answering a criticism by asserting the other person is guilty as well.
The implication is that a questioner or accuser is hypocritical. The goal is to have a stalemate and put others on the defensive while sidestepping the original complaint.
Example:  Response from a narcissist when told he is being selfish:  “How dare you accuse me of being selfish. You’re just trying to make yourself look good by making me look bad. It doesn’t get any more selfish than that.”
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"Tu Quoque" is another one of the more underrated propaganda techniques MLMers use, and is more subtle than many of the other techniques. The reason being, the blame is being shifted to accuser and they usually don't realize it. This technique is commonly used when someone confronts an MLMer and the MLMer responds with, "What do you do that is so much better?", or "How much money do you make?", or "What do you know?". A lot of the time the accuser may also be unsuccessful, or rather, not be as successful as MLM claims you can be, therefore they cannot respond to these statements. This is how the technique works and it is why it is so effective. It doesn't matter if the accuser is successful or not, and it doesn't matter if the accuser has something better than MLM. The bottom line is, MLM is a broken "system", and it doesn't matter if the person has a better answer.

Another way of looking at this is, if you were to tell someone they were losing money because they are spending more money than they are making in MLM, and they respond with, "Yeah, well, what do you do to make money?", don't go down their rabbit hole. You don't have to defend yourself by dignifying that with an answer, but a good answer would be, what difference does it make, you are still losing money. 
These propaganda techniques are not critically thought out by design, but rather designed to stop critical thought. If someone says something that sounds ridiculous, made-up, or simply doesn't make sense, even if you don't know why, then it is important to take a moment and think about what the real meaning is. You will be surprised how often you catch people using propaganda techniques for persuasion, and you will also be surprised how often you find people are full of...

Source: https://www.thebalance.com/the-likelihood-of-mlm-success-1794500

Source: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/narcissism-decoded/2017/09/12-classic-propaganda-techniques-narcissists-use-to-manipulate-you/