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In an Age of Scams, Self-Help Falls Short

An individualistic focus only goes so far in preventing scams and frauds.

· 9 min read
In an Age of Scams, Self-Help Falls Short
Elizabeth Holmes. Alamy

A review of Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do About It by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, 336 pages, Basic Books (July 2023).

We are, according to a number of recent commentators, in a golden age of grift. Pyramid schemes are on the rise. Scammers are raking it in like never before. Shameless promotion of nonsensical cryptocurrency, NFT, and “Web3” projects is impossible to avoid. Social media is awash with fake news, and legacy media is mired in a legitimacy crisis of its own making. Scientific and academic research can’t be trusted uncritically due to the influence of partisan and ideological forces from both the left and the right. There is a pervasive sense, especially among young people, that everything is a scam, everything is bullshit.

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