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.


  1. Nice take on using fear to lure people in. It's also used to keep people in through phobia induction during the mind control indoctrination.

    Your examples of "stuck working for a boss" (aka J-O-B, Jackass Of the Boss) and the others are perfect examples of the phobias that are instilled during seminars, retreats, "training", etc.

    1. Pinkvictim --

      Thank you for your feedback! I believe the fear mongering techniques utilized by MLMs are extremely calculated and are very effective for indoctrination. I believe the vulnerable people they target don't think their situation is as bad as MLMs make it seem, and therefore they immediately rely on MLM's advice to help cure the problems the MLM invented.

      The idea that MLM knows a person's problems better than they do, and they are selling a cure for it, should be a giant red flag that something isn't right.

    2. Amway uplines use fear about people's finances to get them to take the bait. They talk about income tax, loan interest, insurance and other expenses that eat away at your income.

      They will say that most people cannot afford to open a conventional business, thus Amway is perfect as it's low overhead and low risk. They say Amway might be your only hope.

      Then they tell you that they have a foolproof plan. But in order to enact that foolproof plan, you need voicemail, cds, books and seminars to be able to implement their plan. Do the steps and follow their advice.

      It's all part of the fear mongering.

      I wonder how well it's working being that Amway seems to be suffering from market saturation and revenues are down 25% in the last 3 years. When they first penetrated China, their sales were strong but now that the China market has matured.....

    3. Joe,

      Do you have any particular resources that show Amway's progression in recent years? I would like to see some articles about the Chinese market and how it is falling apart, especially since China and India are likely the final frontiers for Amway progression.

    4. John, I can only google and find Amway's global sales and revenue figures. They don't report individual market figures. I believe they spin it but they can do that because they are a private company.

  2. John Doe your blog is spot on!

    Harry Dent, that we spoke about recently, exhibited classic MLM fear mongering in the clip I was given to listen. It was distributed from a guy whom I (now) know to be involved with Network21 (within Amway) although he did not push anything when he gave me the CD, apart from a vague reference to his part time business, that helped people to grow and discover their potential. At the time, though I certainly knew about Amway, I wasn't quite attuned to recognising MLM. He said the CD made him think, and since according to him I'm the kind of guy who thinks and am serious about my future, I may want to listen to this.

    First an introductory speaker established the credentials of the great visionary the listeners were about to hear from. He "predicted" so many economic events in the past with cunning accuracy. (All hogwash of course if you research. For every correct prediction {which may be out by a few years} there were 10 ridiculous ones). But anyway, at the time I even felt secretly embarrassed that I hadn't heard of Harry Dent. It really sounded as if I should have.Like Warren Buffet.

    Then the speaker comes on, with his predictions, and these are not good. Tough times are ahead. He gives a short analysis. Shallow but loaded with buzz, about baby boomers retiring and draining state resources, as well as other factors.

    This is the time to start your own thing.. But oh dear. Most business fail.More doom.And it's not over: But better do something, because your job is not going to be secure either.

    But then Harry Dent says (making it sound as if it is "by the way", so as to not make it obvious that this is the sole goal of the clip that he got paid for) that MLM is actually a good business model to look at. You could ride out the storm (that was going to last about 10 years) and in the process help others to also succeed. There are many advantages compared to other options, he says: The business has low startup costs, "anyone" could do it, there is a proven recipe, and you could easily start it part time, so unlike other business and employment it's practically risk free. The worldwide trend according to Harry Dent is that more and more people are buying from people they know. Even soap. It is the future.

    And then he talks as if the listener as sold, giving advice on what the tendencies are, what products will be in demand. (the baby boomers sitting in the retirement homes will want soap and vitamin pills). And he talks about differentiating your MLM (through service) from conventional retail. I think this switch of tone to give advice is another technique, the "duh" technique. Meaning that obviously it's a no brainer to join. It puts social pressure on an unprepared listener, almost like people chanting to answer a speaker. An important part of his advice: choose a reputable company, that's been around for years. (Since this was N21 he was obviously prepping the listener to conclude Amway).

    In 10 years, when the storm is over, you can continue to grow it if you so choose, or just retire with your significant savings, stay involved to help others. In fact the "help others" theme is strong, even those are exactly what you will not be doing. Powerful self justification in case the irritating greed flag in your conscience pops up.

    It sounds very stupid to me know, when I repeat it, I'd think who would ever fall for this. But that is not doing justice to the tone of the CD, which was actually quite persuasive. He was calm, clear and confident. If he wasn't so obvious in running to the point (MLM) I might have given it more of a thought too.

    The CD was unbranded, but for a small printed notice that said if you wanted to know more, contact the person who gave this to you.

    The guy phone back after a week asking if I had found it thought provoking. I said yes I did indeed. And it was not a lie!

    1. Kwaaikat --

      I definitely need to look more into this Harry Dent character. He is starting to sound more and more like Kiyosaki, and he has A LOT of time on the "Rise of the Entrepreneur" "Documentary Style" movie (I still get a kick out of the fact they called it that). When he went over the outrageous debt figures, I should have known this guy was more of a cretin than the rest.

      "The worldwide trend according to Harry Dent is that more and more people are buying from people they know. Even soap. It is the future."

      I guess this guy doesn't have the internet and is still stuck in the 1950's. Clearly he hasn't seen Amazon's stock LOL!

      "I think this switch of tone to give advice is another technique, the "duh" technique."

      I am definitely going to need to make a post about this. I'm not sure what the proper name for this is, but it is very effective and it can be very devious. When I was propositioned for Amway nearly 2 years ago, my "friend" lent me the Kiyosaki book and said, "Have you ever heard of BILLIONAIRE Robert Kiyosaki?" (Which is an obvious lie as Kiyosaki isn't even worth 1/10th of that amount), to which I replied, "No" and felt like a complete idiot. He talked him up as being on the level just below Gates and Buffet, and it was at that point that I was convinced to follow his lead. He utilized that psychological technique perfectly, and I thought it would be really idiotic if I didn't pursue this avenue. I wasn't aware enough that this was a trick, and I never thought to consult the internet, which was a critical error.

      " In fact the "help others" theme is strong, even those are exactly what you will not be doing. Powerful self justification in case the irritating greed flag in your conscience pops up."

      I think you have pointed out another great topic! I think an overwhelmingly large percentage of people want to help others and do not want to gain something by taking away from another. This psychological technique is another power house and was successfully used on me. I thought I was going to be helping people to succeed and I was giving them the "opportunity" of a life time.

      Great points Kwaaikat!

  3. I'd like to follow up with some definitions.

    We're talking about fear - fear of bad economy, fear of losing your job, fear about your financial future. These are normal, appropriate, rational fears that are experienced by just about everyone. These are some of the fears MLM's use to lure you in. Once you're in, things begin to change...

    Now starts the phobia induction. Phobias are abnormal, inappropriate, irrational fears. The MLM induced phobias are based on all the bad things you are told will happen to you if you quit your MLM: You are a FAILURE; you will have to get a J-O-B (and the sub-phobias that go with that); you will be SHUNNED by your MLM friends (who now tend to be your only "friends"); you will NEVER achieve happiness until you reach _____ level in the MLM... the list goes on.

    So, in sum, fears (maybe some pre-existing phobias) are used to lure you in; phobias are induced to keep you in.

    1. pinkvictim --

      Great distinction and a common theme when perpetuating the brainwashing and conditioning. They usually start with an idea that sounds legitimate and then slowly and methodically manipulate that into something irrational because MLM is irrational. The ability to transition from a very real or practical situation into a fictitious or irrational situation seems to be an art these MLMers have perfected.

  4. Fear-mongering in Amway and other MLM rackets is based on the creation of "horror" scenarios that are linked to absurd lies, such as all brick-and-mortar stores will soon disappear, salaried jobs are a thing of the past, "prosuming" will replace consuming, network marketing is the wave of the new century, nobody will buy from strangers anymore, and other similar nonsense.

    This is then followed up with the dire warning: If you don't join the wave of the future (Amway or some other dumb "Plan"), you'll be broke, destitute, and without resources. You will be one of the millions of helpless losers who are destined to be left in the dust. You will be lost!

    A number of commentators have noticed how this whole thing apes, in a perfectly parallel fashion, a religious sect. There are dire warnings of doom, of damnation, of a coming apocalypse. And then there is the "offer of salvation" -- Come join us, the MLM prophets say, and we will guarantee your avoidance of the wrath to come! We are the only safety raft in this sea of disaster!

    Amway and all MLMs are really just debased forms of religion, turned into a Ponzi scheme to benefit higher-ups in the organization.

    1. Anonymous --

      Great points about MLM and religion. I often refer to the gurus as "Prosperity Messiahs", because they seem to be the only ones with this hidden "knowledge" of how to be successful. They have been granted the ability to make money from a godly influence that was bestowed upon them and speak in parables about the horrors of being broke.

      This fear mongering, especially when it comes to predicting the "end" (rapture) has been around since the beginning of religion. Just as unsettling as it is for people to not understand the origin of life and being, they need to have a story for the end as well. Unfortunately, when science can't support or deny these theories that leaves room for fraud or manipulation. It is easy for people to fill in the gaps with their imaginations, especially if it leads to a better bottom line.