Monday, July 27, 2015

How to Spot a Political Charlatan

When I first started this blog I posted an essay by the Political Professor on how to spot a charlatan because of one particular TV and Radio personality of the time. I think it's timely, and in need of a revisit:
Charlatan: A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud. (Noun.)  From:,
We live in an age of charlatans. Lots of people claiming special knowledge and insight about how the world works offer us solutions to our problems or desires. While there is nothing new about charlatanism, the internet, twitter, and the 24 hour news media offer seemingly endless new opportunities for charlatans to ply their trade.
On the theory that many might want to be able to identify charlatans when one sees them (or perhaps become one oneself), I thought I’d offer a quick, 5 point guide for determining charlatanism for oneself. Not all these criteria may be present in every charlatan, and many people will have one or more of these traits without being a charlatan. But if someone has most of these, you should be pretty sure they’re a charlatan.
First, be incredibly sincere. Nothing sells like the appearance that you are simply explaining the truth and offering things for others because it is important to you to do so. Profess your truthfulness. Sincerity matters.
Second, be obviously passionate. Wear your intensity on your sleeve. Bleed your passion from your pores. Make it clear that what you are saying/selling is coming from you as a compulsion. You are a missionary for your story. Passion mixed with sincerity will encourage others to believe.
Third, be simple. Describe the issues/problems you are working with in plain, easy to grasp terms. And offer simple, straightforward, apparently commonsensical answers through which people can imagine overcoming the issues and problems in their lives. Complexity is a turnoff. Sincerity and passion will combine with simplicity to make it easy for your audience to enter into your way of thinking about things.
Fourth, demonize your opponents. Make it clear that those who disagree with you are not just mistaken, they are dangerous. They are either ignorant–they refuse to see the rightness of your simple, passionate, sincere point of view–or they are evil: they have an agenda that actively seeks to destroy the commonsensical world view you offer. Nothing breeds togetherness like otherness: construct an other to rally against.
Fifth, be a martyr. Take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune onto yourself. Publicize how hateful and evil your opponents are for so grossly and unfairly attacking you–but insist that you will stand up to their relentless attacks in the name of the greater good. Martyrdom inspires movements.   
Alternatively, you could just be Glenn Beck Donald Trump.