Daily Debunker: The Art of the Con and Why It Matters

Featured on Snopes today: The psychological tricks used by con artists to deceive us, Joe Biden's claim that he was arrested while visiting Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and more!

10 Articles
  • Published 26 February 2020
10 Articles

What do deceptive memes, deepfake videos, and snake-oil salesmen have in common? They all partake of the “art of the con.”

All con artists, writes Barry M. Mitnick for The Conversation, use strategies that take advantage of human weaknesses, framing stories in ways that appeal to the biases, beliefs, and prominent desires of their targets. These days, you’re more apt to find them plying their trade on social media than door-to-door.

Recognizing and resisting the attempts of bad actors to convince us to believe “alternative facts” are essential skills for navigating today’s information landscape.

Why Do People Believe Con Artists?

The study of business history reveals that people everywhere have always had a sweet tooth for the unreal, enthralled by what should be taken as too good to be true.

News
Did US Senate Fail to Acquit Trump Because There Wasn’t a ‘Real’ Trial?

Trump's impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate was a source of controversy.

False
Was Joe Biden Arrested in South Africa in the 1970s?

The former vice president has repeatedly claimed to have been arrested while attempting to visit the incarcerated Nelson Mandela. The facts show otherwise.

False
Did Harry Truman Denounce the Use of ‘Socialism’ as a ‘Scare Word’?

"Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people."

Correct Attribution
Is China Producing Corned Beef from Dead Bodies?

Unverified, unvetted postings on social media used photographs from video game promotions to advance tropes about China's food industry.

False
Video Edited to Claim Bernie Sanders Made Racist Comments

A YouTube video that appears to show Sanders making racist remarks more than 30 years ago has been edited.

AP News
Court Sides with Trump in ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Grant Fight

The Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement, a federal appeals court in New York ruled in a decision that conflicted with three other federal appeals courts.

AP News
Globe Braces for Long Battle Against Virus as Cases Spread

Scientists raced to find a treatment, crews scrubbed everything from money to buses, and quarantines were enforced Wednesday from a beachfront resort in the Atlantic to an uninhabited island in the Pacific as the world fought the spread of a new virus.

AP News
Why Do Christians Wear Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is the traditional start of the Christian season of Lent.

News
Americans are Drowning in a Sea of Polls

And what the reporting on polls doesn’t reveal is anything substantive about a candidate’s position.

News