science | October 05, 2015

First Look: Maria Konnikova’s New Book, The Confidence Game

Ever wonder why we so easily fall for scams, cons, and schemes? Why do we find exploiters and conmen so persuasive? To bestselling author Maria Konnikova, those too-good-to-be-true, once-in-a-lifetime offers are a perfect match for our brain chemistry. In fact, we’re wired to believe in the most duplicitous deals, and no one’s immune. In her new book The Confidence Game, launching in January 2016 (but available for preorder), Konnikova explains the psychology behind deception with a refined mix of research, storytelling, and mind-expanding science. It’s an important book, not only for getting wise to deceivers’ tricks and understanding their motivations, but for getting to know our own minds, hopes, and secret wishes.

Though the book is still a few months away, there’s already a strong assembly of praise forming around it. Steven Pinker says Konnikova explains the story of the swindler with “characteristic clarity, flair, and depth.” Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says, “I really love Maria Konnikova’s writing. In a world of pseudoscience—of extreme polemical thought—her calm rationality is comforting and smart. I appreciate and believe her.” And for Paul Bloom, author of Just Babies, it’s “a brilliant and often unsettling book” that will “blow your mind.”

From the publisher:

“In this remarkable book, Maria Konnikova shows that human beings are hardwired to believe—often to our peril. And with a deft mix of stories and studies, she explores what that means for how we think and, ultimately, who we are. Deeply researched and elegantly written, The Confidence Game will widen your eyes and sharpen your mind.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mastermind, a compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con artists—and the people who fall for their cons over and over again.While cheats and swindlers may be a dime a dozen, true conmen—the Bernie Madoffs, the Jim Bakkers, the Lance Armstrongs—are elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust. How do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling for it, over and over again? These are the questions that journalist and psychologist Maria Konnikova tackles in her mesmerizing new book. 

From multimillion-dollar Ponzi schemes to small-time frauds, Konnikova pulls together a selection of fascinating stories to demonstrate what all cons share in common, drawing on scientific, dramatic, and psychological perspectives. Insightful and gripping, the book brings readers into the world of the con, examining the relationship between artist and victim. The Confidence Game asks not only why we believe con artists, but also examines the very act of believing and how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us. 

In her books and fascinating talks, Konnikova makes cutting-edge psychology meaningful and relevant. Combining fascinating neuroscience and surprising discoveries, Konnikova’s keynotes can help individuals and organizations improve their creative powers and sharpen their perceptions. 

To hire Maria Konnikova as the keynote speaker of your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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