Sunday, February 10, 2008

Scamology Part 1.

If prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, religion is the world’s oldest scam. It gets repackaged and re-invented over the years. It incorporates other scams and spins them off, out of the religious mainstream as well. Psychics, and fortune-tellers owe their trade to bygone religious mummery and superstition. The modern art of advertising owes its success to psychological triggers that were first unearthed and exploited by religious organizations.

The basic tools, indoctrination, misdirection, mass hypnosis, isolation achieved through paranoia, are always the same. Beyond this, most modern religions also follow a basic structural formula that is more similar than diverse, regardless of the veneer applied to it. Every once in a while, someone invents a “new” religion, but they almost invariably imitate the same system of scams that have been proven to work time and again.

A good scam is like one of those headache-inducing pictures that look like random patterns on first glance, but when you force your eyes to focus a foot behind the plane of the canvas, another pattern or 3d-seeming object appears. The best scams have the most ornate patterns of bullshit to disguise the underlying design. If you want to see the underlying design, it helps to know what you are looking for. Most people’s education is lacking in this field deliberately. One’s susceptibility to scams makes one a better consumer in general.

One fun way to familiarize yourself with the basic pattern of scams is to think like a scammer.

Warning: The following information is presented for self-defense purposes only. Any attempt to use this information to take unfair advantage of the susceptible and gullible will lead to moral bankruptcy.

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction. The story you are about to read takes place on an imaginary parallel world in a parallel universe. Any similarities to real people or events is caused by the underlying similarities endemic to all religious scams. The names of people in this parallel universe have been changed to protect the innocent from the overly litigious perpetrators of similar scams.

Chapter 1: Fertilization

Once upon a time there was a man named Little Jack Horner. For obvious reasons, he went by the name of L. Jack Horner. Jack was a writer of Fantasy tales. He wasn’t a good writer, but he was prolific. It was like he had the legendary 10,000,000 monkeys inside his head, all pounding out words on their 10,000,000 typewriters. In short, what he lacked in quality, he made up in quantity. The pulp magazine editors found this handy when deadlines were looming, and kept him around.

One day, Jack was sitting in his editor’s office, a man we’ll call John W. Stewart. They were sitting around with a fellow writer, Robert McDonald Kinderlein, just kind of shooting the breeze. Horner was on again about how hard he had to work to develop stories that were good enough to earn meager pay of a pulp fiction writer. Maybe it was the cigar smoke, maybe it was the bottle of Three Roses Bourbon in Stewart’s bottom desk drawer. In any event, the conversation turned to how wonderful it would be if one could write a story that would just keep giving. A “golden egg” of a story for which people would pay, over and over again, to hear retold. Somebody in the room drew the obvious parallel to the “Ia-sus story”, or maybe it was the “Mu-Achmed story”, things were a little hazy by that time. Anyway, shortly after that, L. Jack pops the question.

“Why don’t we start our own religion? Just to see if we can pull it off!”

Kinderlein is noncommittal, but Stewart is intrigued. He promises to buy and publish anything of interest that grows out of the project, strictly as a work of fiction of course.

Chapter 2: Early Gestation, from Zygote to Embryo

L. Jack noodles around with the idea for a while. He starts out with an overlay for human psychology. He has studied some psychology, and possibly learned some things about himself that he did not like and therefore rejected. At any rate, he has recognized that most theories of psychology are represented by an imaginary framework, through which human behavior is identified and explained. There are no apartments in the human brain for Sigmund Fraud’s “It”, “Me-go”, and “Stupormego”, he thought to himself. All you really need for a framework is internal consistency. If someone wants to claim that it’s full of shit, well, let’s just see them prove it! If there was one thing that Jack had in abundance, it was imagination, so he gets right on the task of Explaining it All.

First, a name is required for the new philosophy. Something that sounds familiar, but new. Religious organizations have long been divided into two camps, Harpolonian and Diurnain. They take their name from the two mythical sons of the great god Breus, Harpo and Diurnie. Harpo is the god of ritual and digestive regularity, often associated with the sun for its nasty habit of rising every day whether one is ready or not. Harpolonians believe that god is silent, scary, and wants things like money and obedience. Diurnie is the god of excess and partying, often associated with beachfront properties and whorehouses. Diunians believe in having a good time, and only stopping to make their way home during the morning hours of the next day. Most modern religions are Harpolonian, and the philosophical bent is described as Harpologetics. Jack coins the term “Diuretics” as a label for his alternative religious philosophy.

Stewart prints some early essays, but Jack’s insight is not given the recognition and acclaim he feels it deserves. Somehow, he has failed to captivate and excite his audience. The fledgling religion is in danger of becoming stillborn. Something is missing. Jack is nothing if not persistent. He will write reams of chaff to glean a few precious germs of story. He is now obsessed with the idea of launching a new religious movement, if only to prove that he is smart enough to do it. He goes back to the drawing board, studying the success stories of those who had perpetrated similar scams in recent history.

(to be continued)


At 4:31 PM, Blogger Rita said...

keep talking...I'm in the mood to be converted ;]

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Romeo Morningwood said...

I'm telling Tom.
Get ready for the charm offensive from Dharma and Vinny Barbarino.

In order to protect your persons, surround yourself with Psychiatrists (oh the Irony), anyway it's the only thing that they's like Garlic to Vampyres.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

I remember from acting class that there are a finite number of plots with which one can make a play or movie from. I am sure there is such a figure for the number of basic scams that can be realized. Religion - bait and switch?

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best scams make you think you're getting something comparable to sex ...BTW

At 10:05 AM, Blogger breakerslion said...

handmaiden: You're kidding, right? (both comments) ;-)

lord tennisanyone: So how many psychiatrists does it take to change a dim bulb anyway?

rev. barking nonsequitur: Subtle though it may be, the name change did not escape me. More like selling the Brooklyn Bridge than bait and switch.

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That first sentence says it all.

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, don't you think that is part of the appeal? Sex & religion never seems to be too far removed from each other.

Maybe, I was exposed to too much Pentecostal titillation in my youth.

BTW so you don't miss it: "On Wednesday evening, February 20th, the full Moon over the Americas will turn a delightful shade of red and possibly turquoise, too. It's a total lunar eclipse-the last one until Dec. 2010. The Sun goes down. The Moon comes up. You go out and look at the sky. Observing the eclipse is that easy. Maximum eclipse, and maximum beauty, occurs at 10:26 pm EST (7:26 pm PST)."

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