As Maria Konnikova wrote in her book, “The Confidence Game,” “The whirlwind advance of technology heralds a new golden age of the grift. Cons thrive in times of transition and fast change” when we are losing the old ways and open to the unexpected.
We are easy marks for faux Nigerian princes now, when chaos rules, the American identity wobbles, and technology is transforming our lives in awe-inspiring and awful ways.
Trump voters allowed themselves to believe they had a successful billionaire who knew the art of the deal when he only knew the art of the con. They bought his seductive campaign narrative, that the system was rigged and corrupt and only he could fix it. After winning by warning voters they were being suckered, he’s made them all suckers.
.. Those who ignored whispers about Weinstein’s grotesque behavior burned to believe that Hollywood was more than juvenile comic-book movies, that it could still make classy, sophisticated films with great roles for mature actresses like Meryl Streep and Judi Dench. And despite tales of misogyny and sickening transgressions, they wanted to buy Harvey’s grand narrative, that he was a liberal feminist who could raise enough money to help elect the first woman president.
.. With Holmes, people were longing for a young woman to break into the club of boy geniuses conjuring unicorns
.. She played to that, imitating Steve Jobs by wearing a black turtleneck
.. She pitched a Jobs-like mythic story about her company, that it was not merely about making money, it was designed to be “the most important thing humanity has ever built.”
.. High-minded elites like to scornfully say that Trump voters fell for his scam because they were ignorant and racist. But the high-minded elites fell for Holmes’s scam, even the fake deep authoritative voice she put on. Her board had George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Jim Mattis and David Boies; Rupert Murdoch and Robert Kraft were investors.
.. Jaron Lanier, the scientist and musician known as the father of virtual reality, has a new book out, “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” He says that the business plans of Facebook and Google have served to “elevate the role of the con artist to be central in society.”