ABOUT THE CONFIDENCE GAME
Now a New York Times Bestseller
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.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE CONFIDENCE GAME
For a round-up of post-release media, including reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and more, please visit this post.
“The story of the con artist may be unmatched for combining human interest with insight into human nature, and star psychology writer Maria Konnikova explains their wiles to us with her characteristic clarity, flair, and depth.”
—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of How the Mind Works and The Sense of Style
“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.
—Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test and So You’ve Been Publically Shamed
“In The Confidence Game, Konnikova plumbs the psychology and chemistry of why we all fall so readily for scams and cons—and why, thanks to the “Lake Wobegon Effect” and other forces, having fallen once, we’re even more susceptible the next time. It’s a startling and disconcerting read that should make you think twice every time a friend of a friend offers you the opportunity of a lifetime. But you won’t think twice. You’ll still succumb, because that’s how we’re all wired. And here’s the irony—the smarter you think you are, the more readily you’ll fall, which is why New Yorkers are some of the easiest marks. (Clients of Bernie Madoff, we’re talking about you.) If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you’ll love this lucid and revelatory look into our oh-so-susceptible selves.
—Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake and The Devil in the White City
“In her brilliant, enthralling new book, Maria Konnikova illuminates the type of character that has long held the public imagination: the con artist. By plumbing the depths of real stores of swindlers and their victims, and by drawing on new scientific research into the nature of deception, she does more than just show in riveting detail how these cons unfold; she also reveals their hidden psychological dimensions, and why we all may be perfect mark.”
—David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
“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
“What magic takes place when a smooth talking stranger convinces you to part with everything you have? Maria Konnikova is a superb storyteller and her tales of conmen and their victims will blow your mind. The Confidence Game is a masterful exploration of human psychology—Konnikova uses the art of the con to explore some striking claims about kindness and cruelty, memory and reputation, the power of stories, and the very nature of the self. This is a brilliant and often unsettling book, and it leaves me with mixed feelings—I’d like everyone to read it, but at the same time, it scares me to think of it falling into the wrong hands. “
—Paul Bloom, Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology, Yale University, and author of Just Babies
“This book shook my confidence in my ability to detect fraud—and then showed me how to improve my skills. An enthralling read about why we’re all vulnerable to deception, by one of the truly gifted social science writers of our time.”
—Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals
“Maria Konnikova has written a compelling, engrossing account of the world of the con. I stayed up far too late reading it. Beautifully written, and filled with stories and thought-provoking psychological research, The Confidence Game will teach you how confidence artists operate – and how to outwit them.”
—Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
“An enthralling read about con men. But it’s about so much more: trust, belief, and deception at their most basic and human levels. If you think you’re above becoming an unwitting player in the confidence game, you’ll think again by the end.”
—David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene
“Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence Game is the most thoughtful and thought-provoking book ever written on cons, and I’ve not only read most of them but I’ve been also been conned. Now I know why. More deeply still, she explores what cons can teach us about human nature and our most profound needs. Hope springs eternal and therein lies the con’s motive and our lesson. Learn it well by reading this marvelous and important book.”
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, author of Why People Believe Weird Things, The Believing Brain, and The Moral Arc