An ADHD friend of mine, a medical doctor from New York, once described medical diagnosis as ‘pattern recognition’.
That’s why, he said, a competently written computer-based questionnaire can actually be more effective at diagnosing medical conditions than a human being: because the computer will ask ALL the relevant questions, not skipping some that don’t seem appropriate, or being disarmed by ‘appearances’ or noble-sounding ‘assurances’ presented by the patient … as some human doctors will do.
A computer will follow the questions and answers where they lead … whereas a human will sometimes think, ‘No, that’s not likely…’ and perhaps miss a clue. A computer will ask the embarrassing questions about, say, sexual partners, alcohol consumption or needle use.
I mention this because, although I (deliberately) don’t make a fuss about it here, I’ve run a training company since 1991 and been involved in many seminars teaching aspects of investment, business and personal development before then and since. (None of them have involved selling property or investments to ‘students’.) As such, I’ve paid attention to what’s offered in the investment education ‘marketplace’ and seen various operators over the years posing as ‘educators’ to pitch their snake oil.
I talked elsewhere about working with one of my authors, Olly Newland, in uncovering the Blue Chip scam, and how he and I and another colleague collated evidence and material which Olly then laid before the Minister of Commerce, various Members of Parliament, the Commerce Commission, the Serious Fraud Office, the Police, and the news media in an effort to hold the Blue Chip operators accountable.
It’s a matter of public record that when his direct negotiation with Blue Chip broke down, Olly’s public agitation and his formal complaint kicked off the Commerce Commission and SFO investigations. The wad of Statutory Demands he and I personally served on the Blue Chip companies on behalf of BC victims were met a few days later with a raft of company liquidations. Bastards. It’s been frustrating to see how slow and seemingly ineffectual the authorities have been in that situation.
Anyway, back to pattern recognition: Over the years, I’ve observed various wide boys, liars, salesmen and spruikers preying on the innocent — sometimes posing as ‘investment educators’ etc. At times, for the reasons I explained yesterday in ‘Why Speak Up?‘, I’ve tried to oppose them and sound warnings about them. I even sued one whom I regarded as particularly pernicious.
Here, from my files, is one of the FIRST I ever spoke up about: Investors International. These guys were so smooth they even sucked then ACT MP Rodney Hide into being a speaker at one of their seminars in Fiji. Window dressing.
I warned people at the time, even contacting some involved in the pyramid scheme-style selling of the seminars, telling them straight that Investors International looked very dodgy and they should avoid them. Eventually I was proved right, with Investors International boss Rudy van Lin even jailed for fraud in the US. But only after sucking a LOT of money out of Aussies and NZers with their claims of ‘quick and easy massive riches’. (Are you seeing a pattern yet?)
I warned about this 'financial education scheme' that turned out to be fraudulent. (click to enlarge)
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