November 19th, 2016| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Frank Abagnale has the dubious distinction of being one of America’s most prominent fraudsters and conmen. His life made it to Hollywood (in the 2002 movie, Catch Me If You Can, where he was played by Leonardo DiCaprio), not to mention into a Broadway musical. He claims to have assumed at least eight identities including a doctor, a lawyer, and a Federal agent. Abagnale also escaped from prison twice.

[Now he is—get this!—a well-respected security consultant, lecturer for the FBI, and a runs a financial fraud company! Who said a life of crime doesn’t pay? Oh, well.]

Apparently his life of trickery started out with his swindling his father out of small change as a teenager, and proceeding onward (downward?), even having the gall to impersonate an airline pilot, though he confessed he “couldn’t fly a kite.”

You might wonder how one thing leads to another. It isn’t because one lie forces you to tell another, and another, and another, …—all to maintain a web of deception.

Sir Walter Scott once declared:

Oh! What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

Well, he was wrong, it seems. Nature Neuroscience recently published an article by researchers at the University College of London and at Duke in Durham: “The Brain Adapts to Dishonesty.”

Apparently, small lies desensitize the brain to greater degrees of dishonesty. Lying gets easier and more comfortable as it continues.

Said Tali Sharot, one of the authors:

Whether it’s evading tax, infidelity, doping in sports, making up data in science or financial fraud, deceivers often recall how small acts of dishonesty snowballed over time and they suddenly found themselves committing quite large crimes.”

Subjects were asked to estimate the value of pennies in a jar and send their guesses to an unseen partner. Some were told that they would benefit if they overestimated the amount—an incentive to lie. Over multiple iterations of the game, the liars lied more and more, beginning by altering the value by £1, and ending by £8 at the conclusion of the exercise.

Brain activities of the participants monitored by MRI showed that with the initial phases of lying the amygdala in the brain (linked to emotion) was pretty active. But as the untruths escalated in magnitude, the amygdala’s responses declined. Larger drops predicted bigger lies in the future.

Explained Sharot:

The first time you cheat on your taxes you feel quite bad, she added, but if you get away with it and benefit this bad behavior is reinforced and the next time it doesn’t feel quite so bad, leading you to cheat even more.”

Pope was right:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

All because of a deception-desensitized amygdala.

Best not to sear that part of the brain. Best to flee from all manner of sin and evil, however small or insignificant.

Flee immorality.
1 Corinthians 6:18

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:14

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil ….
But flee from these things, you wo/man of God,
and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
1 Timothy 6:10–11

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace,
with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22

And then the tempter will flee from us.

Submit therefore to God.
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

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