This is the first in a 3-part series of the 3 most important (non-spiritual) things about life that every human on this earth needs to know, but no one is teaching.

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#3 – How to completely fool anyone!

This one is so important because if everyone knew it, the Holocaust would never have happened!

First, let me tell you the unbelievable story of how I learned this lesson. I give you my absolute word that this story is 100% true, despite how crazy it sounds.

Back when I was in college, way before the MTV show “Catfish”, back before everyone was meeting on the internet, I met a girl in physical therapy. I was in and out of physical therapy quite a bit at that time because of back problems. Because the place I went to was so highly regarded, PT students from all over would do anything to get the chance to be a tech there. As a result, I had a new tech work on me every time I went in.

One visit, I met a lovely young woman who I really clicked with and wanted to get to know better. Afterwards, we started talking on the phone every day and getting really close. But, there was always some reason why I never got to see her, despite living only 5 minutes from each other. The reasons were always completely plausible and there was plenty of evidence to back up her claims.

Despite the fact that she claimed to be in love with me, it had been a month and I hadn’t gotten to see her one single time since we met in the physical therapy office. Obviously, with so many red flags I was very skeptical. I had done plenty of detective work, even talking to her roommates, and everything seemed to check out.

The Choice

It got to a point where I was faced with a choice. I had two mutually exclusive options. Either she was telling the truth and there was a long string of unlikely coincidences that prevented us from meeting up, or she had created an elaborate, complex scheme to fool me, including creating a network of false identities which was carefully coordinated in order to back up her stories.

Which option was more likely? Which one was harder to believe? Keep in mind that I had already met her once. Why would she not want to meet me again? She had sent me pictures of herself and this is before myspace or facebook  so people didn’t have pictures publicly posted. The only way you got a picture of someone is if they sent it to you.

Well, I came up with one last desperate idea that I really didn’t expect to work. I lied to her. I told her that I had contacted the school and they had given me information that proved she was lying to me about “everything”. I finished by asking why she lied. I figured she’d see right through it and get angry at me for not trusting her (which she often did).

To my absolute SHOCK, she didn’t get angry. In fact, she didn’t say anything! There was a long pause on the phone. Then, she quietly responded to my question, “I just wanted you to like me”. I was blown away!

She confessed the whole thing and finally allowed us to meet. When we met, I didn’t see the girl I had met before. To my surprise, she was a severely obese woman in a wheelchair!!!

WHAT?????

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Somehow, this woman had completely stolen the first girl’s identity! I have no idea how she got her pictures, and I have no idea how I ended up talking to her instead of the original girl I met. To this date, I have never talked to that first girl except for that one day at physical therapy.

I had been completely duped by this sad, hurting woman who spent all her time alone in her apartment concocting this elaborate scheme! I felt really sorry for her. She was desperate for love and was treated less than human by the world.

How could I have been fooled?

The whole situation greatly humbled me. I’m one of the most skeptical people out there. And even at that point I had been studying manipulation for quite a while. How could I have possibly been fooled?

That’s when I realized one of the most important things about life.

People will always believe the lie if the lie is easier to believe than the truth!

Think about that. Fooling an entire country, or even the world is extremely easy! All you have to do is make sure the truth is harder to believe than the lie! The crazier the truth is, the easier it is to get away with the lie.

We’ve seen this happen. The Nazi’s were putting Jews in death camps and exterminating millions of people, but the Germans and Americans refused to believe it. They could have stopped it early on, but they didn’t. There were plenty of people spreading the truth. But, no one believed it.

Consequently, the people sat back and allowed the atrocities to happen. They even helped! All because the truth was harder to believe than the lie.

Conspiracies?

So, should we believe every conspiracy theory that comes around? Absolutely not. Most conspiracy theories are bunk. It’s in our nature to suspect conspiracies. We humans can’t handle things that are completely out of our control, like the weather. So, we try to make sense of senseless things and believe someone is behind it all. If it’s all a conspiracy, then we might be able to control it.

Plus, conspiracies absolve us from blame. We tend to gravitate toward options that make us feel better about ourselves. And if there’s any option that keeps us from having to face the reality that we aren’t as great as we desperately want to think we are…we’ll choose it almost every time!

But, if it’s in our nature to suspect conspiracies, why do so few people believe them? There are two reasons.

  1. Even though it’s in our nature to suspect conspiracies, most people realize how silly conspiracy theories are. No one wants to be seen as the crazy conspiracy theorist. We still believe small scale conspiracy theories (“the teacher hates me and wants me to get a bad grade!”), but the larger the conspiracy, the less chance we’ll believe it. The irony is that the larger the scale, the higher the stakes. And the higher the stakes are, the more motivation there is to conspire! (I doubt your teacher has much motivation to make you have bad grades.)
  2. When things are going well we don’t want to believe anything that will make us feel bad. We ignore anything that we don’t want to believe. Consequently, the majority of the people will laugh at any “conspiracy theory” that comes along.
So what should we do?

The reality is that some of those “conspiracy theories” are probably true! And if we want to prevent anything like the Holocaust from ever happening again, we need to realize this!

If someone warns you of something that sounds crazy, don’t dismiss it just because it seems hard to believe. Don’t dismiss it just because you don’t want to believe it! Do your own research. Look at the evidence and decide for yourself.

It just might be true!

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- Jim Graham
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