Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Too Much Work

At Science 2.0, Edzard Ernst offers nine steps to "becoming a charlatan." He's focused on the fairly narrow area of pseudo-medical treatments, since it offers pretty fertile field for the false-wonder worker.

Useful ideas include veiled suggestions that "big pharma" wants your invention/technique/discovery suppressed, as it would cost them billions of dollars. The idea of ruthless corporate goonism trying to stamp out discoveries that would ruin industries has been in enough books and movies that people will take it seriously. Ernst also suggests that the wise faker will invoke some kind of cutting edge science and mysterious concept. This idea has a proven track record, as Alan Sokal's 1996 hoax paper in Social Text can show.

Ultimately, though, Ernst makes the entire process of becoming a charlatan far too complicated. It need not require nine steps but can be effectively done far more efficiently with a wide variety of single steps.

For example, you could claim that you would build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. Or that you thought a "C" label on United States State Department documents was an alphabetical key to paragraph order. Sure, wide segments of the population would not believe you, but you don't have to convince everyone. Just one person more than half of the poor retching wretches facing your name and your opponent's name on a Nov. 8 ballot, fifty-five hellish damned days from now.


fillyjonk said...

I was gonna say, being a charlatan is too much work, better to be an honest person (I once had a discussion with someone about how telling the truth was easier because there was no "story" to keep straight). The bad news is you'll never get rich that way....but I guess I tend to be a chump like that.

Friar said...

Yep -- a whole lot easier keeping your story straight when it isn't crooked to start with ;-)