The Confidence Game
Why We Fall for It ... Every Time
Maria Konnikova writes about human behavior, science, and psychology, most notably for her weekly New Yorker blog. In her bestseller, Mastermind, she offers advice for improving methods of deduction and mindfulness. Her new book The Confidence Game studies the art of persuasion—and deception. In all her work, she explores motivation, performance, and the brain with uncommon clarity.
Maria Konnikova’s breakout book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, has been translated into 16 languages. In it, she explores the famous detective’s signature methods of observation, logical deduction, and mindfulness, showing readers how to apply his techniques in everyday situations. Her new book, The Confidence Game, is a compelling investigation into the minds, motives, and methods of con artists. The New York Times calls Konnikova an “an insightful analyst of the dark art of the scam.”
“A delightful tour of the science of memory, creativity, and reasoning, illustrated with the help of history’s most famous reasoner, Sherlock Holmes himself. Maria Konnikova is an engaging and insightful guide to this fascinating material, which will help you master your own mind.”— Steven Pinker
Konnikova previously worked as a producer for the Charlie Rose show, and wrote the weekly Literally Psyched column for Scientific American as well as the Artful Choice blog for Big Think. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American MIND, and Scientific American, among others. Born in Moscow, Konnikova came to the United States when she was four years old. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, where she studied psychology, creative writing, and government. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia.
Would you know if you were being conned?
Join New York Times bestselling author Maria Konnikova as she explores and explains the psychological principles that make swindling us so easy. From suspicious-looking emails to seductively-structured investment programs, tricksters and grifters use everything at their disposal to persuade us to part with our money. In a world in which the internet makes it easier than ever to access information and adopt new identities, even the savviest of individuals can be tricked. Could you be?
In this entertaining and insightful talk, Konnikova will tell the fascinating stories about some of the most seductive imposters in history, taking us into the world of the con to examine not only why we believe in confidence artists, but how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.
Personal resilience is often a key factor in overcoming obstacles. But what is it? How do some people succeed, and even excel, despite incredibly difficult circumstances? Can this ability change over time? And, most importantly, can it be learned?
In this talk, Maria Konnikova explores the psychological underpinnings of the quality that allows some people to flourish even in the face of adversity—hurdles like socioeconomic stress, turbulent upbringings, and traumatic events. She shows how, in certain individuals, adversity can actually enable adaptability, and unpacks the internal (dispositional) and external (environmental) elements that make these individuals successful. She then takes audiences through the steps of applying these qualities of resilience to different contexts, from educational settings to home and to the workplace. Ultimately, much of resilience is about having a certain mindset—and cultivating the right cognitive skills to strengthen it can mean the crucial difference between succumbing to, and surmounting, life’s greatest challenges.
Modern technology has opened the door to infinite possibilities—but it’s also given us endless opportunities for distraction. We check our phones compulsively, spend uncounted hours online, and find less and less time to attend to what matters most. But when these distractions are gone, we’re suddenly plunged into anxiety. Why is being alone with our thoughts so uncomfortable? Why do we flee moments of silence and downtime? And is it possible to channel feelings of boredom into something more productive?
In this keynote, Maria Konnikova explores how boredom is actually rooted in distraction—or, more precisely, a conflict of attention. She then explains how staying attentive to tasks and obligations isn’t entirely dependent upon external forces: by strengthening our inner focus, we can work to control, direct, and even alleviate boredom. If we can recapture our ability to thrive without distraction—to work, or focus, in contemplation—we can recharge our energy, engage in fruitful, abstract thinking, and marry disparate ideas in ways we never thought possible. In fact, the state we call ‘boredom’ may actually be the lifeblood of inspiration, deep thinking, and creativity. Join Konnikova in this decidedly non-boring talk on the uncommon value of boredom—and how, once we learn how to be bored, we can find ourselves again.