Monday, October 24, 2011

Manipulating a Person to Create an Imbalanced Trade


But really, just like how hacking improves security, I believe that understanding how manipulation works could improve the sophistication of trade. I'm going to describe a 2-step case of manipulation with a story. Environments this can be used in include flea markets, used car lots, with real estate agents, garage sales, craft fairs, black markets, vehicle/computer repair stores, or with your 'friends' you jerk. Basically anywhere where the person you're purchasing from owns the rights to the item being purchased.

Imagine a situation where you and somebody, lets call them Jack, have some items to trade. Alright, before we can begin to describe the process of manipulating Jack to create an imbalanced trade we must first take heed of two things: what Jack wants and what Jack knows. The reason why we must know what Jack wants is so that we may appeal the emotions of Jack. The reason we have to know what Jack knows is so that we can avoid getting detected in our disingenuous schemes!

Go: Jack comes up to you and is like, "Look I just got a lot of [magical item]!" Jealous, and wanting to get more of this [magical item], you start your game.

The first step you can take is to make Jack think less of the [magical item]. THE BEST way to do this is to find REAL faults with the [magical item]. For example, when you go to purchase a used car you may notice that there is a dent in the door or a crack in the windshield. Call those things out -> ????? -> Profit! You can also do this by providing false information about the [magical item] or by devaluing the positive impact of the [magical item]. The reason you may wish to provide false information alongside real information is because perhaps you just can't get the price low enough being honest! And if you can get better than the honest price, why not?

The easiest way to have somebody believe false information is to guise it in an informal fallacy. The reason that informal fallacies are useful in this situation is because Jack isn't stupid, and he knows the basic information about his [magical item]. If we tried telling him that his [magical item] does something extra or doesn't do something that he knows it does, he'll [b]catch us[/b]. Boo. But if we used an informal fallacy such as "Oh, everybody I know that has [magical item] actually say it isn't that great in regard Y" then he will generally be more willing to assimilate your proposition, rather than to just discount it. Also, a key about using informal fallacies is that they are generally difficult to verify! That means two things: Jack would have difficulty verifying it on the spot, and that Jack probably hasn't had the chance to verify such information in the past, especially if the proposition false.

Particularly useful informal fallacies:
-Argumentum Ad Populum: It is of my experience that people tend to trust - at least somewhat - the popular opinion. Nevertheless, be careful because there are some people that - for some reason - are inclined to reject popular opinion.
-Argumentum ad Verecundiam: Similarly you can tell somebody that a very respectable authority claimed something to be true. The awesome thing about this is it doesn't have to be true at all! Precede what you're claiming the authority to have said with the fragment "Dr. X said something like" and all of a sudden your claims are unverifiable.
-Slippery Slope: Oh, this one is slightly harder to employ but so useful. To use this one effectively you could tell Jack "Hey, I heard people that use [magical item] tend to get addicted to [magical item], which leads to [negative habit]."
-Appeal to Emotion: This requires knowing a little about your victims values. Lets say that Jack has a strong aversion to stupid people. You could then claim that the people that generally use [magical item] are stupid, and you don't really want to get caught up with that crowd.

These are all methods of making Jack feel as if his [magical item] isn't quite so valuable. That is, the process we are undergoing is lowering the oppositions wealth inherited from the desired item. Also, the opposition will assume you will not trade quite as much as you would have for the item. It is important that you don't overdo it because the next step is to do the first trade!

Step two is to encounter your first trade with Jack. For some reason you want some of this devalued item. Luckily people don't make sense and you don't have to either. Besides, you're just "trying it out" for the first time! You're not certain of how much the product will benefit you! So you make an offer to give Jack something, probably money, for his [magical item]. Depending on your success at changing Jack's opinion of his [magical item] through information manipulation, you'll get a lower price.

Again, Jack isn't stupid, he wants to get the best price, too, so he's going to try and haggle the price upward! How might he do this and how can you detect it?

1) He may take a long pause or seem undecided, which means he wants more. In these cases your job is to IMMEDIATELY withdraw your offer for trade. A statement like "Oh, well don't worry about it then" does the trick. This does two things: (1) It makes it so that Jack must make his decision to trade or not trade immediately, and (2) If Jack keeps a supply, it makes possible for you to reissue the same offer next time the situation arises.

2) He might lie to you. It's generally hard to tell if somebody is lying, especially if they know how, but a few indicators are: (1) They look towards the right, which indicates creative rather than factual thinking, (2) they touch their face which indicates a rush of blood to the head, (3) they act defensively.

3) He might just outwardly claim he feels like he's being tricked. Just dismiss this with "Well, hmm, I don't know, hmm..."

Beware of:
Competition: Most industries tend to have competition. If Jack is aware of the market conditions for his good then make sure you do not ask for the same quantity of that good that the market provides. That way there is no direct way for Jack to tell if the transaction is inferior or not. Competition can also be used in your advantage if Jack isn't aware of the market conditions. This allows you to claim market conditions. When claiming market conditions you must make sure you're claiming the market sells a different amount than the amount you're buying to avoid any direct indicators of what the price should be in your transaction. I'm sure by this point you're already thinking about making the market look like it offers a better deal than the one you're asking for. ;) Prepare a couple reasons for why you're willing to buy at a worse price than the market offers, ofc. My favourite two are: (1) I just don't want to head over to [place where market is] right now, and (2) I know you have to make a profit.

Useful Phrases:
 "That sounds about right" <-- When accepting offers
"Well, hmm, I'm not so sure, hmmm" <-- To avoid confrontation
"Yeah, but I heard"  <-- To acknowledge information in passing while changing the focus in your favour
"But here's what I'll do for you" <-- When offering to do a trade.

Keep In Mind
Build rapport with your victims!
Stay flexible as the process is highly circumstantial!
Don't be evil!

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