Friday, February 24, 2017

MLM and Confirmation Bias

Today's blog post is about the concept of confirmation bias. This idea stems from the inappropriate or negligent strategy utilized to ascertain an answer to a question. Confirmation bias comes up frequently in science when people are attempting to find a desirable result in an experiment, and will sometimes grasp at straws or invent a conclusion. The same can also be applied to MLM as people attempt to prove the efficacy of MLM through faulty means.

Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and memory have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a greater reliance on information encountered early in a series) and illusory correlation (when people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations). 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias

According to the Wikipedia definition, here are some of the methods MLMs use that would be considered confirmation bias:

1. If someone has a question about a particular part of MLM, for instance the expected amount of income a distributor can generate, MLMs will not talk about the income disclosure agreement. Instead, an MLMer might show pictures of flashy cars, mansions, boats, and money, which is misleading at best because only a fraction of 1% ever attain that kind of wealth. They decide to ignore the statistics, which have been designed to show the actual expectation of monthly and annual income.

2. MLMs utilize wholesome values to imply it is genuine and legitimate. MLMers will suggest the business has veracity because they are devout Christians, believe in matrimony, or they may be charitable. While these can be great qualities, they have nothing to do with a business being legitimate. It is important to look to regulatory agencies, such as the FTC and the SEC for guidelines on what makes a business legitimate.

3. MLMs utilize ambiguous evidence very frequently. They suggest there are a lot of successful people and then fail to mention anyone, or if they do, they mention only a few of the top 1%. MLMers may suggest the industry is thriving or is a multi-billion dollar industry, but fail to note that it has far more members driving that total revenue over a billion than blue chip companies that are worth far more in comparison (this is another way of saying MLMs are inefficient). Finally, they may something such as, "The people that are successful are the people who put int he effort, and the people who quit didn't try hard enough". Well, that may be true for some, but for most they do try really hard and they still fail. This is again a point they tend to leave out of the conversation.

4. Attitude Polarization is very big in MLM. I have had many debates with MLMers about their businesses and how the statistics reflect a very poor performance. The responses are routinely bizarre and suggest, the statistics came from a flawed source (often they come from their own companies), the statistics don't accurately reflect the overall business (statistics are designed to take data and make inferences about the data gathered), statistics can't quantify individuals (similar to the last one), or statistics are not real evidence (meanwhile they will call upon their own statistics as long as they suit their cause). This has become a rampant problem for people that are disillusioned by thoughtspeak (Orwell). They cannot rationally look at evidence anymore and have utilized programmed cognitive dissonance to rationalize the dissenting information.

5. Belief perseverance is also very big in MLM, especially after utilizing attitude polarization. MLMers will continue to pursue MLM even after being confronted with evidence because it feels good, or they think they are learning something useful, or they just want to do it and don't care about the results. This is often connected with denial, because no rational person would want to throw money away, especially if it was hurting others in the process.

6. The irrational primacy effect often comes into play when describing the opportunity for success in MLM. Unfortunately, as MLM grows the possibility for growth shrinks in an exponentially larger percentage. When MLMers describe the successes of their predecessors they are forgetting to mention that it was a different time, a different market condition, and a different knowledge base. All of these effect the new MLMers outcome, but they still rely on the fact that a previous person was able to be successful.

7. Illusory correlation happens the most, and often includes many of the previously stated confirmation biases. One of the most common illusory correlations is the shape of MLM and the shape of Corporate America are both pyramids, therefore they are both legitimate. Not only does this not make sense on an arbitrary level, but it doesn't make sense on a deeper level either. Yet it rolls off the tongue well, and MLMers continue to fool and deceive new prospects consistently with this terrible line.

MLMs frequently utilize confirmation bias to manipulate and deceive their distributors. They provide false analogies, unrelated information, and deceptive claims. They also go out of their way to discredit any dissenting information and opinions, and they are quick to sever ties with anyone that does not share their complete worldview.

Friday, February 17, 2017

MLM and Relationship Red Flags

Today's blog post is about a recent article I read on my favorite website, psychcentral.com, about relationships and red flags. The author goes through five major red flags and how they consistently prevent relationships from being successful. MLM is an extremely relationship based "business", and it is important to delve into some of the warning signs when someone is proposing an MLM to you.

Here are the five relationship red flags:

1. Different Values - The author describes this as CORE values and not personality types. Certain core values may be your stance on religion, work, children, and creativity. You may not have to align with everything perfectly, but it is important to have more in common than not.

MLMers cannot have different core values from their uplines. They must be conditioned until their mindset is completely identical to their predecessors. In my personal history, I had an MLMer make me go to a Christian service, try and dump my fiancee (now wife), and ignore family and friend's opinions. These core values were too different from mine, and these are a few of the various reasons for why I had to stop MLM.

2. Inability to Apologize - The author describes this as either a character flaw in an individual or a lack of respect. Either way, it is a telling sign that the relationship will not work.

MLMers cannot accept responsibility for their actions. They cannot recognize their faults, because they are conditioned to find excuses. If an MLMer is confronted with their undesirable earnings, then they will say it is because they didn't work hard enough. If an MLMer is confronted with making their downline miss important events, then they will say it was important to their future. If an MLMer is confronted with the failure of their downline, then they will say they didn't try hard enough and never acknowledge the fact that they had responsibility for that failure as well. While this may not be exactly the same as being able to apologize, the overall message is people need to be able to take responsibility for their actions.

3. A History of Failed Relationships - The author warns people of certain patterns of relationship failures with both romantic partners and platonic relationships. If a person seems to routinely have issues maintaining relationships with others, that could lead to an undesirable fate for your own relationship.

MLMers have the WORST history with failed distributors. Their churn rates are significantly higher than any other form of business, and the amount of MLMers that are receiving profits above slave wages is as high as 5% and as low as .01%. With numbers like these, it makes sense to run as far away from MLM as possible.

4. Trust Issues - The author says trust develops over the course of a relationship and if trust fails to develop then there may be a serious flaw. Envy is an immediate sign of poor boundaries as an individual may invade or ruin certain parts of their partners life.

MLMers do not trust anything outside of their own networks. They don't trust the media, they don't trust other MLMers friends or families, and they don't trust any type of business that isn't MLM. They have such a strong distrust for outside influences that they encourage people to simply leave reality and become completely enmeshed in their activities. They want you to have only MLM relationships, MLM learning materials, MLM activities, and they hate if you have anything that conflicts with their agenda.

5. Controlling, Possesive, or Abusive Actions -
  • Wants you to spend less time with your friends and family
  • Doesn’t respect your boundaries
  • Wants you to quit your job, school, or hobbies
  • Accuses you of being unfaithful or always wants to know where you are
  • Takes your money or runs up your credit card bills
  • Criticizes you excessively or says no one else would ever want you

This part of the article was literally meant for people involved in MLM. MLMers want you to get away from friends and family because they are a distraction or waste of time and they may have unpopular opinions.

They don't respect personal boundaries and attempt to invade every facet of a person's life. I even read in a blog that a person had to ask if they could get coffee in the middle of a conference for fear of falling asleep. This is a grown adult asking permission while attending a voluntary activity.

MLM wants you to "retire" from your job, thinks college is a waste of time (debatable these days, but certainly not because of MLM logic), and they want you to focus all of your time on "Running the business". There won't be time to go to the movies, go for hikes, or go to the mall, because you MLMers have to run that business, or attend conferences (I put this in italics now because it is more like a pep rally).

MLMers demand your undivided attention, and they will constantly say those that failed were not "Following the system" perfectly. This is basically the same as being unfaithful to the cult, as someone can only "Follow the system" perfectly if they are completely devoted without questions. I have also read certain MLMers have made impromptu calls or check-ins at very late and inappropriate hours.

MLMers have no problem taking all of your money through monthly auto-ships, tools, and conferences. This is what they are designed to do, while also taking control of the rest of your life. Robert Kiyosaki is a master of teaching people to extend their credit well beyond their means and place outrageous charges on credit cards with no ability to pay them back. Kiyosaki is also an important figure in MLM and has written a book for Amway that is read by every single member.

MLMers will give distributors unconditional love and support when distributors are involved in related activities, but if they attempt to deviate from the plan, then they will be attacked with passive-aggressive behaviors. They will also use scare tactics to keep an MLMer involved, such as dooming them in life if they choose to leave, or suggesting they may be missing the most important lesson that can be taught. Merchants of Deception is a great story about an Emerald being consistently attacked and conditioned by his upline to do everything he is told.

These red flags are an important reminder to those attempting anything in life, but as far as MLM is concerned, it receives a big fat fail.

Psychcentral kindly provided the inspiration for this article and the link is posted below:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2017/02/16/5-relationship-red-flags-what-you-should-know/

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

MLM and Origins of Belief and Values

Today's blog is about challenging where your beliefs and values come from. Everyone has an inherent set of beliefs and values, but most people don't understand whether these beliefs or values came from within or were established through outside stimuli. Human beings, by nature, are group oriented and thrive by belonging to communities which are developed through similarities. These similarities are usually genetic, but they do develop into social similarities over time. Eventually certain people within the community will rise due to certain inherent traits, such as the ability speak publicly, and begin to transform the community into a belief and value system that is congruent to their own. Before long, people will rely on the belief and value systems of the group and will lose their own value and belief system.

This crux between self belief and group belief has been contended with since the beginning of civilization. There is a natural hierarchy within humans and the idea of every human having perfect equality is inherently flawed. No civilization can exist properly with every human having perfect equality, yet this Utopian philosophy still exists as many people with limited control over their lives view this as the ideal situation. There will always be leaders and followers and those leaders will work to convert the followers to their sets of beliefs and values.

MLMs are no different as they work to form groupthink (Orwell) throughout their downlines. They have a specific set of leaders that teach the followers what is important, both materialistically and spiritually. MLMers show videos of mansions, cars, boats, vacations, and most importantly money which installs the materialistic part of the value system. Then MLMers support their spiritual value system by installing specific religious beliefs. MLMs are adaptable as well and utilize targeted demographics to morph their value and belief systems based on the culture they are infiltrating. Not everyone can be converted to a certain Western Style value system, which is why MLMs can become anything a certain group desires.

The important thing to note is the emphasis of the group belief system taking over the self belief system. This is very similar to the mob theory where an individual may not participate in harassing or violating another individual, however if certain people in a mob decide it is important to terrorize another person, then other individuals may drop their own self beliefs to fit in with the group. MLMs prey on individuals with low self-confidence, low self-worth, and people who are highly impressionable or vulnerable.

The first weapon against this type of manipulation is introspection. The only persons that can truly understand what is important to their well-being and happiness is themselves. By taking the time to critically think about your own values, you can start to prioritize and eliminate certain group beliefs.

The second important weapon is to understand that things are not black and white. This kindergarten philosophy does not apply to any real life situation as human beings continue to become more and more complex. There is always something of value from every group and that does not mean that the value comes from something good. A group can show you bad traits and ignorance which should be avoided, while still offering a level of camaraderie that other groups do not have. This is part of what makes MLM very tantalizing, because they introduce a certain bond that human beings desire while taking advantage of a person's vulnerability to a poor financial situation. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Checklist for a "Quality" MLM

Today's blog post is about a ridiculous checklist an MLMer posted. This was his version of key guidelines for an MLM, and somehow every MLM that doesn't meet these qualifications should be deemed inherently bad. It is important to note that this is something that was programmed into him by a maniacal MLM upline, or worse, this MLMer is the maniacal upline trying to utilize deceit by means of a worthless checklist. Without further ado, here it is:

10 ways to choose an awesome Network Marketing Opportunity.
1. Has the company been around for at least 5 years?
2. Is the company well funded?
3. Does the company offer products or services that are unique?
4. Is there a genuine need for the product or service?
5. Is the product or service trendy or just a fad?
6. Can you generate immediate income?
7. Does the marketing system take full advantage of technology?
8. Is the person who is introducing you to the opportunity committed to YOUR success?
9. Is there a way to build your business part-time without losing your full-time income?
10. Can you have FUN with this company?

Let's go through each point and dissect the inherent issues with them pertaining to MLM.

1. "Has the company been around for at least 5 years?"

This is completely backwards logic when it comes to MLM. MLMs have spread like wildfire because of social media platforms and checking to make sure an MLM has been around for at least five years is a significant hindrance on anyone's potential success with MLM. The whole point with MLM is to get in as early as possible and form the biggest team before other people come along and snatch up your prospects. If you have to wait five years before you even get started, then you might as well take a fire to your money, because the percentage of people left is incredibly small compared to the beginning.

2. "Is the company well funded?"

Not only does this have nothing to do with MLM, but if the company has already been around for five years, then it should have already proven to be "well funded". MLMs don't need a lot of funding because most of their marketing is done for slave wages based on a false premise of a "Utopian lifestyle" (Thank you David Brear) once they have committed themselves to the business. Also, when has an MLM ever told anyone anything about their funding or monetary resources? The government can't even get the biggest MLMs to release any forms or income/disclosures, therefore your chances of finding out are somewhere in the neighborhood of 0%.

3. "Does the company offer products or services that are unique?"

Let me be perfectly plain. NO MLM HAS EVER HAD A UNIQUE PRODUCT EVER! They specifically target markets with little to no regulations and they continue to pump out overpriced generic products to help compensate for the pyramid type pay structure. If an MLM ever had a unique product, then they would not market their product in an MLM but rather sell the product through normal channels such as online and brick mortar. The MLM structure is not advantageous for the consumer or the distributor because they MUST mark-up the products significantly in order to pay out the levels of the team (pyramid).

4. "Is there a genuine need for the product or service?"

Again, let me be perfectly plain since this relates to the previous point. THERE IS NO ACTUAL NEED FOR AN MLM PRODUCT OR SERVICE. There never has been and there never will be, because of the structure in which MLM is formed. These are generic products wrapped up in a misleading scheme based on the dreams of charlatans that want to take people's money. There is not one MLM product or service that has been needed in the market place and there never will be.

5. "Is the product or service trendy or just a fad"

This is the weirdest point because it actually makes no sense. You can't ask an OR question and have both words mean the same thing. I honestly can't tell what the person is asking because this is like asking do you wear clothing or garments? This is a bad attempt at a loaded question and should automatically derail anyone from being interested in a business opportunity that proposes such nonsense.

6. "Can you generate immediate income"

I have never heard of a business that generates IMMEDIATE income. In fact, most investments don't generate IMMEDIATE income and anything that suggests that there is IMMEDIATE income is a RED FLAG. This is another way of suggesting MLM is a "get rich quick scheme", which an MLM will never admit, and may deflect by saying there is IMMEDIATE income opportunities, but it takes a lot of effort and time, which completely detracts from the previous statement. If someone says there is IMMEDIATE income then it is time to IMMEDIATELY excuse yourself.

7. "Does the marketing system take full advantage of technology"

Okay, a couple of issues here. The name of the business opportunity is Multi-Level Marketing, or in this person's case "Network Marketing" (sadly has become interchangeable), so what does it mean by "marketing system"? According to MLM, their plan reflects using people involved and therefore it is discretionary as to whether or not they choose to use technology. Also, the phrasing of the question is completely bizarre. If you take away "marketing system" and put in yourself, then is this person basically asking if you utilize technology? This seems to be phrased as a question, but is more so meant as a statement or advice. This is a runner-up to point number 5 for strangeness.

8. "Is the person who is introducing you to the opportunity committed to YOUR success?"

Ah, this is a wonderful question that pulls on my philosophical heart strings. First of all, is it really necessary to capitalize "YOUR" in the question? I'm fairly confident we can understand whom this question is about. Secondly, the person introducing you to the business has a financial bias to make themselves successful before they worry about you. It seems contradictory to ask them to take time away from themselves to help you be successful in the same endeavors. It is also ludicrous to assume the person introducing you to the business does not consider the opportunity to make money off your enrollment and monthly auto ship. This question is completely asinine when it comes to the structure of MLM.

9. "Is there a way to build your business part-time without losing your full-time income?"

This seems to be a subjective question and truly depends on the person instead of the MLM. After watching many episodes of Shark Tank, I believe it is necessary to focus all of your attention on new business ventures, but again this has nothing to do with the business itself. This question seems backwards and suggests that the MLM dream business which can make you fabulously wealthy and retire should come second to your nasty old full-time "J-O-B".

10. "Can you have FUN with this company?"

Wow, this is not only irrelevant but extremely bad advice. If your livelihood was dependent on how much fun you were having, then I'm pretty sure most people would not be working. It is "FUN" to receive a paycheck for all of your efforts and be able to pay for "FUN" activities with your money. This is something that MLMs cannot supply for 99+% of their members, and that strikes me as not "FUN".

On a serious note, this check list was actually created by a real human being. This person is trying to take money from unsuspecting consumers and they do not care about the people they hurt in the process. This list is something I would expect from a kindergartner and not a fully functioning adult (I use full functioning lightly). Please be careful as this list was designed to pertain to ALL MLMs as a whole.

Monday, February 6, 2017

MLM and Boundaries

MLMers have key issues when forming proper boundaries for a business relationship. They do not understand the concept between private life and public life while confusing a business opportunity with a hobby or activity. Real businesses may have team building activity days to help enhance camaraderie or to show appreciation for their workers by recognizing them for their value, but they understand this is meant to encourage productivity and help their bottom line while also paying their employees during these activity days. MLMers reverse this and make activity days such as conferences and seminars into the main priority of the business and they also force their MLM downlines to pay to attend.

MLMers insist that these activity days are something special, and that they can be a breakthrough moment waiting to happen. This is a universal lie designed to keep downlines paying more money while having a smile on their face. These major conferences are nothing more than a theatrical activity day designed to instill energy and camaraderie within your LOS, and any upline that suggests the material being discussed has any business value is purposely tricking downlines into making them more money.

Uplines utilize their edification and position to manipulate boundaries in an effort to extract as much cash from their downline as possible, and if it isn't through conferences then it may be through monthly auto ships or tools. They will pretend to be a support system, a mentor, and act as though they have your best interest at heart while telling you to do things that only take you further from your goals. They may insist you increase your personal volume per month in order to get to the next level of the hierarchy when in actuality that takes more money out of your pocket. They may also insist that you continue to maintain a high monthly purchase rate, even though they know you are not doing well with sales.  Then if you aren't doing well with the monthly sales, they may make you double down on your losses by suggesting you need more tools to help learn how to sell better. These tools are designed to reinforce your passion for the business and have no merit for increasing business productivity.

MLMers will control the way a downline thinks and alter their course of thought to an endless stream of positive thought. This may include insisting they don't listen to family members, friends, partners, acquaintances, or anyone that has been in a downline's life. MLMers will insist that the business comes first and slowly absorb more and more time for the business as opposed to personal life. They may eventually suggest keeping all of your relationships in the business, and try to dissolve any romantic relationships you have. They will destroy all boundaries separating a professional life from a private life.

Finally, MLMers will seek to transform their downlines into themselves and then repeat the process. They will work on an MLMers individuality and destroy it causing nothing to remain except for the programmed thought speech created by the MLMers. They will convert the downline while sending it out into the real world to do the same to others. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

MLM and Visions of Grandeur

Today's blog post is about the delusions MLMs provide in reference to success. MLMers may start their pitch by suggesting it is a reasonable side income, but that quickly goes to the waste side when a consumer agrees to join. Instead that side income bit turns into a life long residual income bonanza filled with the most wonderful imagery their minds could conceive. Once a consumer has been pushed passed the basic levels of introduction into an MLM, then the dreaming begins and it doesn't stop until that entry level MLMer goes broke.

Psych central had a great article about the change in mindset for the millennial generation. There seems to be a larger emphasis on being famous and that stems from a set of outside influences consistently being pumped into them. Sure there have always been people that have had big dreams of success in Hollywood, but there was also less emphasis on "following your dreams" and more emphasis on getting a good education and being productive in society. Also, it was never frowned upon previously to have a middle class income and a reasonable work position, however that mindset seems to have changed and there is now a larger emphasis than ever on "making it to the top".

One of the recurring themes we continue to come back to is, a person started from the bottom and now they have arrived. There can be a multitude of different scenarios, but they always have the same formula. Everyone eats these stories up and this is why we keep pumping out more and more stories about kids from the ghetto, a different country, or disabled suddenly becoming immensely rich and successful. We see shows like Behind the Scenes from VH1, Crib's from MTV, 30 for 30 on ESPN, America's Got Talent, The Voice, or any late night talk show involving regular celebrity appearances. These stories and television shows do not show the overwhelmingly low success rate to be one of these stars, and they consistently encourage people by suggesting these lifestyles are attainable without supporting any statistics. There are so many shows suggesting being famous is not only ideal, but it is morphing into the main value and identity young people want.

MLMs are a different version of these same television shows. They consistently show outrageous amounts of wealth and luxury while preaching it can all be yours for little to no effort, very small monthly fees, and by helping your fellow members of society. They continuously leave out the statistics for success and prey upon people's insatiable need for more, especially if they are impoverished. MLMs will promise you everything under the sun and they will offer an MLMer the chance to become the person they idolize on stage. This is ultimately a false offering filled with impossible odds, but they are keen to only show the success, a similar concept to Vegas slot machines.

MLMs are preying upon people being warped by visions of grandeur as well as those with the "nothing to lose" attitude. They are striving to recruit people that are trapped in the childhood mentality of being "special" without doing anything to garner that classification. They want people looking for the big lottery win. They are going for the emotional people that can be swept up by a nice story and a fake smile. They want people that will never question their methods and simply focus on the carrot at the end of the stick.