Saturday, April 30, 2011

3 Keys to Creativity Found

The 3 keys to creativity is actually very simple:

Educate: fill your brain with a lot of other people's ideas

Stimulate: add some stimulation to your brain, could be endorphins, stimulants, or just different environments

Delimitate: add some limits to your thinking, like remove material, limit tech level and so on.

Let the mind sit and percolate, and you may get an invention.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Confirmation Bias: the hole you dig for yourself

Confirmation bias is a universal problem, and has been observed as far back as classical Greek periods. Basically, it is a tendency of the mind to seek evidence to reinforce existing thinking... Or in other words: digging a hole for yourself.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Hey, we're on the SAME SIDE! (Part 2)

Interesting development. Someone using OpenID of ibofightback (or as Mr. Brear said, IBOFB) posted a comment that claimed he had been "debating" Mr. Brear for a long time. (I checked the blog linked and it had not been updated since 2007!)

The existence of that comment lead Mr. Brear somehow to think IBOFB is in league with me in support of Amway. Another false dilemma: you're either with me or against me.

It is almost as if I'm stuck between two factions while trying to maintain my neutrality: because I truly do NOT know which way to rule on Amway.

On one side, you have Mr. Brear, who is very obviously against Amway, repeating at various times that Amway is a cult and pyramid scheme that should have NEVER been legalized.

On the other hand, you have various Amway defenders (okay, actually, just one, who didn't even bother posting ON Shyam's blog) trying "debunk" the amount of hate directed against Amway.

And somehow I am caught in the middle. It is a very strange experience.

Mr. Brear and Shyam clearly wants me to join them, and when I stated I have not studied Amway to pass judgement, they turned hostile. To quote Mr. Brear:
"Thus, when someone like Mr. Chang confidently announces on this Blog that there is nothing inherently fraudulent in, or cultic about, 'Multi-Level Marketingand then goes on to repeat 'Amway's' reality-inverting propaganda that the problem with the 'Amway' system has been a minority of rogue leaders acting against the organization's own code of ethics, and teaching some 'distributors' to recruit and consume and not to sell the products and, then selling 'tools', my reaction to his ignorance and naivety is hardly surprising."
To translate Mr. Brear:

a) Chang said: "Multi-level marketing is not inherently fraudulent or cultish"
b) Amway said the same thing
c) Chang must be a supporter of Amway

Is that a logical conclusion, leading from a) + b) to c)?

The answer is no: because 1) it could be a coincidence 2) experts said it too

One of MLM's most ardent critics, Robert L. Fitzpatrick, wrote on his website: "My own evaluation has led me to see that, with rare exceptions, the MLM industry is mostly composed of pyramid operations."   (

Note the words "with rare exceptions", so the system itself is NOT inherently broken. It's the compensation package details that pushes the thing into 'scam'. However, it seem to be right on the edge, and needs very little tipping to send it over the abyss, and most MLMs, according to this critic, are pyramid schemes.

Is MLM inherently flawed? In my opinion, yes. It relies too much on "leadership" and "person to person" connections, resulting in almost cultish behavior (in fact, Mannatech, a MLM, is classified as a cult in New Zealand).

If MLM beyond salvation? No. Like Mr. Fitzpatrick, I believe there are some MLMs that are operating legally and ethically. And no, I don't know which ones. My specialty is on TVI Express, a scam that pretends to be a MLM, by borrowing all the WORST practices of a MLM, and making it a truly evil scam.

So, Mr. Brear, we really *are* on the same side. If only you will see that...
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hey, we're on the SAME SIDE!

AmwayImage via WikipediaRecently, I seem to have gone into some sort of a "debate" on the merits of Amway with a guy called David Brear on another blog called

The comments started calmly enough... I was thanked for bringing attention to the scam known as TVI Express. However, here Mr. Brear calls TVI Express "Amway Copy Cat". 

So I posted a few comments thanking them. 

Then David Brear goes on claiming I am some sort of expert, then ascribe some sort of a conspiracy group behind TVI Express. Quote: "Kasey Chang is undoubtedly a world authority on 'business opportunity' fraud in general, and the 'TVI Express' racket in particular"

So I posted what I have on the "mastermind" behind TVI Express, Tarun Trikha. 

David Brear, however, is completely fixated on Amway, as he immediately starts pointing out how Tarun Trikha seem to be using Amway cult tactics

I pointed out that TVI Express is far more of a scam than Amway ever could be. Amway at least HAVE some products, while TVI Express have no products AT ALL. Thus, Amway *could* be operated legally and ethically if one chooses to do so. 

Then the blog owner, Shyam pointed out that an Indian court had recently ruled that Amway India violated the Indian version of the anti-pyramid laws

So I replied that I am not familiar with Indian law, and one should be concentrating on the true scams such as TVI Express, instead of something that *may* still yet operate legitimately, such as Amway. 

That comment was not well received by Mr. David Brear. Apparently, my failure to join him in the wholesale condemnation of Amway (and probably the entire MLM industry) had made me his enemy, as his tone turned downright hostile. In not so many words, he called me an Amway apologist, claimed that I was trying to defend Amway cult and all that. 

So I repeated my comment, that compared to TVI Express, Amway is quite benign. I even pointed him to Robert L. Fitzpatrick's "False Profits" blog. That's a real anti-pyramid crusader. 

That's not enough to appease David Brear though. He claims I was being condescending, that I assumed they don't know about Mr. Fitzpatrick, then goes into some conspiracy about how the US government condones MLM to scam people around the world. Then he links up religious right to the MLM industry. 

Frankly, I have NO position on Amway. It has been operating legally in the US (and elsewhere) for DECADES. What Amway does in INDIA, frankly, is none of my business. I have not studied Amway in any way, shape, or form, except peripherally as part of studying up on TVI Express, and how TVI Express scam CANNOT be multi-level marketing. As Amway basically defined what is legal MLM in the US, I know it "somewhat", nowhere well enough to defend against Mr. Brear's tirade that essentially said "you're either with us (i.e. against Amway) or against us."

So why can't Mr. Brear see that we're on the SAME SIDE, AGAINST FRAUD AND ABUSE? What's with the "you're with us or against us" attitude? 

What Mr. Brear have... is a reading comprehension problem. 

I wrote that Amway *can* be operated ethically, by selling stuff, and ignore the cultish ways like buying all those training packages and recruiting people. (You can recruit a few who are good marketers / sellers) and I meant that. 

However, it appears that Mr. Brear didn't read that. What he actually read was "Amway IS ethical", which is clearly NOT what I wrote. I am well aware of some of the accusations regarding Amway "cult" and related companies,like Quixtar, as one cannot help to read some when searching for MLM abuse examples. Confession: I *have* been recruited for Quixtar and I refused. They are horribly annoying. 

Thus, please drop that "you're with me or against me" attitude. It makes you sound like a fanatic. 

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How to spot fake profiles on LinkedIn

Five areas of problems that would indicate a fake profile (or a badly written one)

Photo Problems

Photo problems are with the profile photo itself. 
  • Photos that seem to be way too professional... or UN-professional

    Photos that are too "posed" are clearly suspect. Use on it and you can often find where it was lifted from. 

    ex: that photo of "Jessica Trot" to the right... Is that a pose a professional would show people? TinEye revealed that this is actually an amateur model in Russia who's not afraid to show a bit more skin than that picture.
  • Obvious Stock Photo

    I've seen profile pics that still have the stockphoto website watermark
  • Clearly implausible photo

    ex: Julia Cute claims to be from Pakistan, but "her" picture is obviously Chinese
  • Obvious Star Photo

    Many fake profiles used movie stars, TV stars, sports stars, and more

Read the whole thing at
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Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Be Expert in ANY Subject: Do it a lot

Photo of Radio Shack Chess Computer 2150L. Pho...Image via WikipediaHere's how to be expert in ANYTHING:
The point is clear: expertise is learned, not born. In fact, an educator in Hungary, Laszlo Polgar, decided to do an experiment on his own children. He has three daughters, and he home-schooled them in chess. He started encouraging all three daughters to learn chess, play chess, and become VERY good in chess, taking them to tournaments and such. The result is one international master and two grandmasters... the strongest chess-playing siblings in history.
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Saturday, April 2, 2011

A short history of San Francisco Chinatown (repost)

City and County of San FranciscoImage via Wikipedia
First Chinese immigrants, 2 man and 1 woman, arrived in San Francisco in 1848 onboard the American freighter "Eagle". They were recorded in local records as "Celestials".

In 1849, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill north of San Francisco. The news spread like wildfire, starting the California gold rush of 1849. The news also spread across the ocean back to China, inspiring may residents of Taishan and Zhongshan, provinces of Guandong, the coastal province, to emigrate to the US in the next 100 years. Indeed, San Francisco's Chinese name today is "Old Gold Mountain" (the new Gold Mountain is in Alaska, in case you are wondering).

Is Communism Fundamentally Flawed? (Repost)

Karl MarxCover of Karl Marx
Supposedly, communism is created by Karl Marx to address the evils of capitalism (pursuit of profit at the expense of the "proletariat"). But is it fundamentally flawed?

Think about it: the idea that all properties are "shared" and belongs to the community/state is fine if you don't consider the following: someone must administer the whole thing. And doesn't that make the administrators the elite in this supposedly class-less society?

In other words, communism may work well enough in a small village, but if you go for large scale, the bureaucracy you must create to administer the realm is fundamentally opposed to the principle of "class-less" society. In other words, a "communist nation" is an oxymoron. You cannot be a nation, and be communist at the same time.