The Mendacity of Hope

Hope is the thing with feathersThat perches in the soul,And sings the tune--without the words,And never stops at all. -Emily DickinsonI am deeply indebted to Barack Obama for reminding me that hope is often used as bait in scams.I have been writing an anatomy of hoodwinks and deceptions, dissecting them into their three essential components -- exploitation of a human weakness, a carrot and/or stick, and a method of concealment. The weakness can be a vice, such as greed or laziness, but is just as often a virtue such as compassion, which is the basis of most charity scams. I had cataloged about thirty of these weaknesses but, until Mr. Obama came along, I had completely forgotten that hope is a wonderfully exploitable weakness that has been used for centuries to hoodwink the gullible. In fact, it was the basis of the first recorded scam: The serpent asked the woman, "Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?" The woman answered the...(Read Full Article)