How to spot intellectual dishonesty

Lots of people claim to have solutions for articulate problems, and tour the world offering their “expertise” for public consumption: seminars, masterclasses, public talks, webinars… Their ideas, most of the time, have a solid internal logic. But: do they actually work? Will they, for instance, actually help solve your entrepreneurial problems? Only one way to find out:

Offer them to work with you

If their ideas truly work, offer them to apply them with you: bring them an elegant presentation of your offer, and serve it with your best manners – just like every time you hire a contractor. Nominally, here’s the logical process:

You claim to understand A: come solve A for me, and I’ll pay you for it

The 2nd part is very important: tie the payment to success – just as much as you pay for your car when it’s fixed, or your groceries when you’re going out of the market: a mutually beneficial exchange of services. The very basis of free market economy. In an intellectual environment: you offer your problem solving service to me, I reciprocate with part of my wealth. And, if either of these parts don’t go through (e.g. The problem solving service doesn’t solve the problem, or the successful service doesn’t get paid), it’s not free market: it’s predation. And predation is not sustainable.

If their ideas are honest, they’ll gladly accept.

If they are not, they’ll avoid your offer.

They know their ideas are bogus, and will do everything necessary to avoid partaking in collaboration: it’d expose their farce. And here’s a quick list of the usual rethoric weaponry for these occasions.

Excuses they’ll use to avoid responsibility

Premise If someone uses these excuses, the battle is lost: they can’t and won’t help you – which are just consequences of each other: if someone doesn’t want to help, he won’t build the skills necessary to do so – ending up in not being able to help. This to say: debate them if you wish to explore human cognition – but, keep in mind: it won’t bring anything productive, and will expose you to the risks of their anger.

1- “I’m too busy

They’re building a narrative that sees them as honestly willing to help, but “unfortunately” they’re “so successful” that just don’t have time for your quibbles. It’s a really good excuse – up until you realize they can vouch for someone else, just like every professional in this world does (“Sorry we’re busy: contact this colleague of mine […]”). They won’t do that because

  1. They didn’t build a skillset. Hence, they didn’t get to meet others who did the same. Because, don’t forget: expertise is not built in a vacuum. You get to meet others who are equally talented – just as much as a heavyweight boxing champion got to meet plenty of other heavyweight fighters.
  2. They genuinely need people to have problems, because afraid that everyone who solves his problems might “take away business from them”: a predatory mind can’t think in productive frameworks. There’s only resources to be exploited.
  3. They, very likely, don’t like the idea of someone in their same business getting work. Because corrupt power is a zero sum game: the more others have, the less you will. That includes potential employees: if you hire people to amplify your productivity, you’re still “sharing the glory”.

2- “It’s best if I help many by teaching, rather than few by doing

This one is a real treat: they can’t focus on your case because they’re busy saving the world. *cue superhero theme*

Same solution as before: too busy to work yourself? Suggest someone else. Maybe one of the “many” they said they’re preparing with their “wisdom”.

3- Ghosting

When they genuinely don’t know what to do, they’ll simply ghost you: they’re either too terrified to face the threat of their bogus ideas debunked, or just genuinely don’t care about your necessity. Either case: no way out.

Long story short:

never, ever, trust anybody not willing to take responsibility for their ideas. Or, as they say: not ready to put their money where their mouth is.

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