Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MLM and the "You are just angry" line.

Today's blog post is synonymous with one of my earliest posts about projection. Projection is a defense mechanism designed to transfer your own emotions onto someone else. It is, logically speaking, one of the worst ways to "win" a debate, and is usually used as a last resort when the person has had all of their more meaningful points refuted. Instead of continuing to focus on the subject, they begin to attack the rival by suggesting the rival can't be logical, because they are being emotional, or more specifically, angry. The United States, in particular, loves to get emotional when debating, which makes things more interesting, but is not good from a scholarly perspective. We also like to argue, rather than debate, because we attach a part of ourselves to the subject we are talking about. We have gotten to a point, in the US, where the ego is so fragile, that any time we are "losing" a debate we have a visceral reaction and become antagonistic.

MLMers have frequently resorted to projection on other blogs, and have commonly referred to authors and other commentators as angry. They may say the author is angry because they failed at MLM, or they have a specific vendetta against a MLM, or even that it has something to do with their biology. These MLMer attacks are both silly and direct reflections of their specific mood. MLMers wouldn't be looking for anti-MLM blogs unless, they lost a prospect or their family and friends recommended reading it. This loss of a prospect and or the rejection of the "business" by a friend or family member can be extremely damaging to a MLMers ego. This in turn will lead to a rage and will result in lashing out over the internet. When MLMers lash out they lose focus and rationality, which leads to ludicrous comments, some of which reflect themselves. 

Unfortunately, as an anti-MLM blogger and regular commentator on other blogs, there becomes a harsh realization about the ability . MLMers are very similar to addicts of controlled substances, and they aren't going to be able receive help from anyone until they are ready to help themselves. The combination of a weakened ego, and clever psychological manipulation, makes logical discourse nearly impossible. The other harsh reality is, the people these MLMers attack and call names, are the people that try the hardest to show them the errors of their ways.

The best strategy, in my opinion, when a MLM adherent devolves to ad hominem attacks and deviates from the subject, then end the discussion and resume it no sooner than twenty-four hours later. They will need time to refocus and calm down, and it may be best to start the conversation with addressing the exaggeration of emotions and how that is inappropriate for dialogue and business. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

MLM and the "Mine is different" line.

Today's blog post is about the old, tired line, "Some MLMs are better than others", and the various derivatives of this phrase. The main idea behind this line is to discredit your opinion by suggesting what you experienced was a freak incident, or the experience was not typical and you should expect different results because their group is different. There are a couple of fundamental flaws with this, the main one being, they all started with the same premise. It is hard, or in this case impossible, for something to be significantly different if it has to abide by the same structure as the original, therefore if the original has an inherent problem, then you can expect those problems to exist in the subsidiary groups. Translation, if a MLM as a whole has a significant issue, then the groups operating underneath the MLM will have that same issue.

There are three main levels in which this phrase is used, from micro to macro. The lowest level phrase is, my team is different because, we have better mentors, make more millionaires, have been around longer, or some other variation. The middle level phrase is, my MLM is better because, we have better mentors, we have better compensation, we have a better product, we are "new school", or some other variation. Then the highest level phrase is, MLM is better than "traditional" businesses because, you need less capital to start, you don't need to come up with a product, you don't need to handle the legalese, and many more lines. All of this falls under the same premise, we are different, therefore give us a chance. However, they are not different, and there is a very basic reason for why these arguments fall flat.

The MLM concept is founded on the idea that you can generate revenue from spending money instead of making money. This is the root cause for problems in MLM, because the revenue is generated through dollars spent by people involved with the company and not people outside of the company. Therefore, it doesn't matter how you try to justify your MLM or your team as being different or better, because the differences are irrelevant due to that main concept being inherently flawed.

This fallacy is known as a straw man argument, because the people using the, "Mine is different" line aren't addressing the root cause for the failure. They instead, are focusing on the symptoms, which is a common misnomer. It is the same as someone trying to treat a fever with cold compresses when the person actually needs antibiotics due to a virus. If you are only addressing the symptom, then the virus will not be stopped.

Another example is, a person in a MLM may be trying to follow a "system", but they just can't seem to make it work.  They read all of the books, they show the plans, they attend all the seminars, they pay all of their dues, but it still doesn't work. A MLMer may say, "The person just needs to try harder, they need to read more, they need to learn more, they need to do more", which is a focus on the symptom instead of the virus. Instead, the MLMer should say, "This person is following the system and failing. We should take a look at the system and make sure it still works."

Monday, August 7, 2017

MLM and Appeal to Authority Fallacy

Today's blog post is similar to the post about checking sources, but is going to go over a couple of other authorities and how they are not reputable. Too often people are misled by people posing as authority figures, and with the proliferation of information on the internet, it is easier than ever to fall for an authority website that is actually propaganda. Whether you are trying to find the best make-up on the market, or looking to find details about particular cars, there are going to be misleading websites that will pose as objective, but are really just shills for a particular brand or company.

Appeal to Authority Fallacy: Using an authority as evidence in your argument when the authority is not really an authority on the facts relevant to the argument.  As the audience, allowing an irrelevant authority to add credibility to the claim being made.
A couple of examples of the appeal to authority fallacy from simple to more advanced:

1. A stock broker giving advice on real-estate. Even though the stock broker may be very good at investing money and understanding the market as a whole, that does not qualify them to give advice on real-estate. You wouldn't go to a hedge fund manager and ask about property values.

2. A commercial real-estate agent giving advice on residential real-estate. This one is a bit trickier, because the person is in real-estate, even though they aren't specialized in the type of real-estate you are asking about. They may even have a general idea, but they will often be very vague when it comes to investing. These two types of investments are very different and should be treated as such.

3. A residential real-estate investor in New York giving advice about real-estate in Kansas. Real-estate markets can vary largely depending on the location, and it would be wrong to assume that someone who does well in New York could have the same success in Kansas.

4. A television house-flipper giving advice about house flipping. This is possibly one of the hardest, because they are allegedly very successful at the very thing they are claiming to be experts at, but many of these successes are fictitious. It is important to separate fantasy from reality, especially when investing, and get a good understanding of what could go wrong. Nobody wants to see the house-flippers fail, except me because I'm a pessimist, and that is why you never see any bad deals on these television shows. Trust me, it isn't even close to as easy as they make it look, and these people are more so television personalities than house-flipping experts. They will also commonly sell their brand or identity to other groups that will use their likeness to run seminars.

Recently a MLM apologist was debating about the legality of MLM and why, "some are better than others", or why "MLM is legal, but there are a few bad apples". These typical blanket statements that are designed to be convincing don't actually hold any weight unless a person can make a specific example. It is as impactful as someone saying, "If you work really hard, then you could become a millionaire". While this is true, and technically more accurate than the previous blanket statements, it is just as possible to work really hard and never become a millionaire, and it doesn't tell you how working hard will make you a millionaire or if working hard is the same for everyone. Therefore, any authority used to verify an inherently weak statement, such as the three above, is probably going to be flawed.

This particular MLM apologist attempted to use a website named, "www.mlmlaw.com", which sounds extremely relevant to the topic of proving whether MLM is legal or not. The website uses a lot of mechanisms to prove authority, such as, a generic color scheme, a font that looks like something a court document would use, a bunch of legalese language, and a reference to themselves at the bottom as actual lawyers. Unfortunately, calling yourself "www.mlmlaw.com", and having law degrees, does not make you an expert on MLM and the FTC's rules. This is proven as they leave out key parts of running a legal MLM according to the FTC vs. Amway case of 1979 which specifically states that every MLM must have 70% of sales to retail customers and each distributor must have at least 10 retail customers. Both of these rules were conveniently left off the website, and the website attempted to use the famous method of obfuscating retail customers and distributors with the term "end consumer" which can also be referred to as a "end user". By creating this new term, it becomes impossible to verify whether sales are going to customers or distributors, and this completely violates the previous rules installed by the result of the Amway case in 1979. They also have pictures at the bottom showing they are members of the "Direct Sellers Association" (DSA), another propaganda group designed to lobby on behalf of MLMs and act as an authority while deregulating industries in which MLM products are sold, such as health supplements.

It isn't entirely the MLMer's fault, as these websites, and even law groups, can look like reputable places to gather information and claim a position on the topic. In fact, because the "industry" keeps growing, and more money is available because of the vast number of copycat schemes, the interest in becoming an authority becomes greater. There will be more authorities claiming to be "experts" on MLM, even though they haven't actually participated in one or have failed miserably (Kiyosaki, Maxwell, Dent et. al). They are leeching onto MLM because there is money to be made, and they will be anything you want them to be as long as you have money.

________________________________________________________________________________

Source: https://www.mlmlaw.com/law-library/guides-reference/multilevel-marketing-primer/

Source: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/21/Appeal-to-Authority

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MLM and Fear Mongering

Today's blog post is about a particularly powerful psychological technique known as fear mongering. Fear mongering has become an epidemic in the United States and it is used in everything from news programs to selling drugs. Typically, people need to be pushed to action, and one of the most reliable techniques to push people is focused on their inherent survival programming. If people fear something is going to hurt them, then they are far more likely to make a change than if they were told the product or service could help them. Fear mongering comes at a heavy price and usually results in group separation, group tension, group distrust, and group unhappiness. While this technique can be used for good, it is typically seen as a devious manipulation technique to gain a means to an end.

Image result for Fear Mongering

Some of the most effective fear mongering comes from commercials trying to sell pharmaceuticals. I recently watched a commercial for "Jardiance", a type 2 diabetes medication, where a spokesperson and a small crew hit the streets to find people with this disease. Even though the situation was fictional, the effect made it seem as though these "regular people" had no idea how bad diabetes is and what it will do to their longevity. The spokesperson went through a series of loaded questions in an attempt to scare these people into focusing more on their health, and after they went through some fancy graphs (similar to "Rise of the Entrepreneur"), the people suddenly transformed and became more alert to their dire situation. After getting their attention with fear mongering, an anonymous narrator starts talking over the picture about all of the side effects, which were potentially worse than type 2 diabetes, only to be followed by every "regular person" agreeing they should take "Jardiance".

Here is the commercial:


There are two important parts to fear mongering in which you should focus.

1. They portray a situation as imminent doom in an effort to get a person to act quickly. People are naturally programmed to survive, and if they fear they are in trouble, then they will be much more likely to do something about it.

2. Fear mongering can lead to an inability to make clear judgments. After you have become afraid, a level of panic will set in and critical thought will dissipate because there isn't time to evaluate the situation. This allows the fear mongers to get away with anything, including putting a person in a worse predicament, even though they are pretending to be of service.

MLMs utilize fear mongering to manipulate their potential prospects and adherents. They take advantage of the vulnerable state in which their members are in, and they offer a remedy for their stress. Instead of MLMs offering a medication for diabetes, they offer an opportunity to fix money issues. They create a false situation in which MLM is the only option an MLMer has for survival, and without it, they may be "Stuck working for a boss", "Stuck trading hours for dollars", "Stuck with living paycheck to paycheck", or even "Stuck living an unfulfilled life". Only after they have created this false narrative will they possibly talk about the horrible statistics, but by then, the MLMers don't care or can't hear it.

Fear mongering is powerful enough to justify any narrative, and its rate of success makes it an extremely attractive option. Here are some effective ways to stop fear mongering from manipulating you.

1. Don't make a hasty decision based on the potential of future harm. It is okay to take a moment and do some research to find out more facts. This is the information age, and we have access to more information, faster, than ever before. Take advantage of this feature.

2. Ask yourself if the remedy is worth the cost? In the case of the diabetes medication, it is important to seek professional help rather than a paid commercial for answers, and in the case of MLM, it is important to look at the statistics for success, the harm it may cause others, and whether it is something feasible to do.

3. Ask if the problem is really as bad as they make it sound. Does it need to be addressed immediately, or can it be something that can be fixed over an extended period of time? One would argue, especially if you are young, money problems are a marathon not a sprint. It is important to understand how to grow your net worth and to set appropriate goals along a certain time line. Simply saying, "I want to retire in 2-5 years" is not an acceptable goal (assuming you aren't 63 years old with a large net worth).

4. Arguably the most important thing to think about. Does the person that is telling me this terrible news gain anything? You'd be surprised how often the answer is yes, and you would also be surprised at how often their gains are at your expense.