NPR’s Science Friday has an interesting broadcast on Gullibility. Ira Flatow interview Stephen Greenspan, author of Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It.

Can science explain why some swindles are so successful? Why are some people more likely to try to buy the Brooklyn Bridge or send money to the heir of a deposed Nigerian prince online? In this segment of Science Friday, we’ll talk about gullibility and the psychological principles at work in scams, from the $15 ‘genuine Rolex’ watch to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Greenspan was also the author of an essay in the Wall Street Journal: Why We Keep Falling for Financial Scams.

One memorable quote was his take on the Madoff scheme.  Mr. Greenspan point out that the scheme was not focused on greed. Madoff was not offering the high returns of typical Ponzi schemes. Instead, Madoff was offering a steady return. Madoff was offering safety. Mr. Greenspan points out that gullibility can be driven by the fear of losing money as much as it can be driven by the greed for money.

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