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Friday, August 19, 2011

Emotional Intelligence and Detecting Deception

It amazes me how some apparently smart people seem disproportionately vulnerable to scams, deceptions and crime.

Many of these victims are book-smart. They will ace a standardized exam, and easily could be Mensa members. Yet these same people often exhibit signs of extreme gullibility, social awkwardness, performance anxiety and a tendency to say situationally-inappropriate things. (As to the last item, these things may sometimes be construed by the audience as deliberately, intentionally offensive comments.)

These people are vulnerable in professional and business settings. They can be taken advantage of, fooled easily, duped easily and ripped off. They are, in short, prime pickings for a scamster. Even worse, should they fall victim to a crime and end up testifying in a deposition or open court, they are likely to endure questions along the lines of, "If you're so smart, how come you didn't know..."

In some of my matters I have encountered people who show what I call "markers" for high vulnerability. While these people are fun -- no, they are roll-on-the-ground hilarious -- for their inability to detect the wryest of wry, dry humor, on a serious level they can be extremely susceptible to being deceived in an ordinary workplace environment. Should the deception involve the misconduct, or criminal act, by another, the hapless person can end up becoming an unwitting accessory to a wrongdoing or crime. In such cases, the person's intelligence and credentials work against him, for those intellectual attributes negate the "reasonable doubt" as to his non-involvement or ignorance of the deception.

Can you see now how the theme of "oh, he's a smart guy, how could he not have known" will work against him?

This is how entirely innocent people get "set up" and falsely implicated. And the fraudster -- who was already skillful enough to engage in the fraud to begin with -- may then be able to commit a second fraud, that of falsely shifting the blame to an unwitting dupe.


Eric Dixon
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