Faith and fraud

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Faith and fraud

According to some, in olden times there was more direct contact with the gods, so religion was less a matter of faith and more a matter of direct experience than it is today. Greek, Norse, and Roman gods – to take those most familiar to us in the West – supposedly tended to mingle with mortals with some frequency. Most people, therefore, had some direct contact not only with their own gods, but also with the gods of others. (We ignore here the theory that those who were identified as gods were actually people from other places – who are now often identified with UFO sightings.)

Monotheism changed all that, requiring people to choose one god and put the others aside. As contact with the gods – particularly other gods – became more distant, religion moved from being experience-based belief to faith– based belief. This was an important change in thought process. People were becoming accustomed to faith and the concept of faith, which by definition, must exist absent proof.

The down side of the move to faith-based belief, from a business perspective, is that it can often be difficult for one to turn off the faith-based thought process, which can leave people vulnerable to fraudsters. In fact, we have never encountered a high-yield fraud where there was not an active element of faith. It is more common than not for business meetings run by fraudsters to begin with prayer, and for the fraudsters to pretend to be persons of faith, using this as a shield to cover the act of theft. This element of faith is required for the investors to be able to suspend reality and mentally buy into the fraud schemes, some of which have been so outlandish that they would not even have been fit for a soap opera script.

Faith is wonderful and important, and without faith we would not be able to accept the gift of the mysteries that have been given to us through revelation. However, when the mechanism that allows you to know and accept God is misused to convince you that you will have the miracle of a return on investment of 20 percent, or even 40 percent, above prime rate, you should start to be at least a little suspicious. Suspend faith for a few moments and ask fact- and proof-based questions, and demand fact-based answers. Being fobbed of with platitudes and insults by the investment professional is a good clue you found the wrong person to whom to give your money. Because, that is what you are doing: You are giving your money away.

As Ronald Regan said, “Trust, but verify.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

 

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