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Old 06-04-12   #5101
Dark Messiah
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Well like most scams, pyramid schemes work by exploiting the greed of stupid people ("You can't con an honest man" is a pretty common refrain re; grifting.)

The easiest mathematical way to explain why they would fail would just be to take the scheme to its logical conclusion.

Now the nature of the scheme in this case requires that the originator come up with six e-mail addresses, which are all probably his except maybe the first one. In a galling display of hubris he then tries to rip off 200 (or more) people to perpetuating this scheme. So if the first guy tags 200 people, and they each tag 200 people, you're already up to 40,000; they each tag 200 which brings us to 8 million; then 1.6 billion, and those guys can only tag about three untagged guys each before we run out of untagged humans.

(Flaw #1: Pyramid/Ponzi schemes try to convince people that there's an unlimited supply of other people.)

You can appreciate the ambition of the scheme that these guys would still all be sending a buck to the originator of the scheme. So theoretically it's a great way for that guy to make billions of dollars.

Of course it's not going to get there, though, because of a number of factors. Anyone with half a brain would do the same thing the first guy did and wipe the previous six e-mails entirely, replacing them with proxy addresses they own all of. And as long s they're doing that, why bother sending any money back to the previous e-mails? There's no benefit to that. It doesn't affect their own marks' likelihood of participating in the scheme.

(Flaw #2: Greedy people are greedy.)

Anyone that has all of a brain is going to just see it as a scam and not waste their kinetic energy trying to continue the scam, expecting that others will see through the ploy.

(Flaw #3: Not everyone is stupid.)

There's also the problem with Ponzi schemes where people who might otherwise be on board with this dumb idea do at least pick up danger signals if they seem to be near the bottom of the pyramid. And this one in particular indicates that the recipient is already link #7, which is going to prompt people with a tenth of a brain to wonder if the scheme is about to run out.

(Flaw #4: Confidence schemes usually work by convincing the mark that they're in some sense important; Pyramid and Ponzi schemes are worse at plying peoples' ego against them.)

Which isn't to say that someone can't make some money off of these; they can and do which is why they crop up from time to time, although it takes a lot of effort and luck. There are only so many people who are a combination of honest, greedy and stupid after all.

The other problem if you do happen to make some significant money off of the scheme is that such cons are illegal.

(Flaw #5: You can be arrested and your stolen money taken from you by the government.)

Note: Originally I called this a Ponzi Scheme, but you're right that Pyramid Scheme is the more correct term in this case.


(If you enjoy con-games I would recommend the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman, they're not the central theme but the book deals with them a good bit. And it's a good book.)
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Old 06-04-12   #5102
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I read that book many many years ago, actually. Remember loving it but can't recall much about it.
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Old 06-05-12   #5103
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Odin is the conman (and obviously Loki, although he shows up late) in the story, and stories with Odin are generally good I notice.

I thought the ending was a bit weak actually but loved the ride.

And they're apparently working on an HBO series + Gaiman's working on a sequel.

(I find behavioral science fascinating in general, so things like cons, magic tricks, game theory etc.. are really interesting to me. Relatedly, check out this article by Teller of Penn+Teller fame.)
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Old 06-06-12   #5104
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I'd definitely watch an American God's series done by HBO. Just finished Game of Thrones and enjoyed it thoroughly.
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Old 06-06-12   #5105
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HBO is doing great job with Game Of Thrones. I have been reading those books since the first one came out in the 90's. I was really doubtful about any tv program doing A Song Of Ice And Fire without fucking it up, HBO has proven themselves
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Old 06-06-12   #5106
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By the way, Peter Dinklage was a perfect pick for Tyrion. Who is hands down my favorite character in the books, alongside Arya
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Old 06-06-12   #5107
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Since I enjoyed the show so much I've started reading the books, but I've only just begun the first one, kinda wishing I'd read before I watched but oh well, it's good stuff either way. I'm partial to The Hound, myself.
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Old 06-07-12   #5108
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Sigh. Everyone I know tells me how good that series is. It's really become annoying. I'm reluctant to watch it or read the books because a) It seems like a huge time investment compared to like, almost anything else I could be doing, and b) I generally dislike stories where characters are dying a lot. And everyone gushes about how realistic this series is because people are dying all over the place.

Should I just go ahead and watch it anyway?
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Old 06-08-12   #5109
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Well, Martin is worth the read. The books are vaster than the actual show. Though I have caught some conversations that were not in the books that added depth to certain characters.

I really liked how Asha let Theon finger her on the way to their Fathers castle lol He did not have a clue....
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Old 06-08-12   #5110
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That was rather... disturbing.

People die in the show, it's sad but it adds to the drama. I watched the entire series in less than 2 weeks. Not since The Wire have I been so engrossed in one, and I came late to it for the exact same reason you did, DM, it had been built up too much for me. It wasn't a disappointment though, I really liked it.

Not that I'm comparing it to The Wire, mind you, it isn't that good, but they are at opposite ends of the same quality level.
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Old 06-08-12   #5111
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Disturbing is my third middle name...... and fingering his sister is by far the least disturbing thing that will happen to poor Theon.....
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Old 06-23-12   #5112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dyshade View Post
By the way, Peter Dinklage was a perfect pick for Tyrion. Who is hands down my favorite character in the books, alongside Arya


I've not been on this forum for so long I'm searching for a 'like' button for this comment!
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Old 06-24-12   #5113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mia~ow View Post
I've not been on this forum for so long I'm searching for a 'like' button for this comment!
Mia!! Nothings changed.. except for the amount of people here lol Yeah, social networks were the downfall of social forums.....
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Old 09-04-12   #5114
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I agree with that one!
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