Home > 2011 Posts, About Dave > Defense Against Shystering 101

Defense Against Shystering 101

This morning, some over the top falsehoods tied to a few important news stories reminded me of something. That something was a short course in ShysterThink that a boss had given me years ago.

He and I were two Navy officers leading an investigation into the collapse of a new aircraft hangar under construction in San Diego. Miraculously, only one person had died and no one else was permanently injured. But the hangar was a total loss. About seventy steelworkers on the roof had “ridden the steel down” and survived with just minor injuries. A dozen others were inside. Those guys all had the great good sense to dive under things when they heard a hundred tons of metal start to fall in a shrieking crash.

Lieutenant Commander Jim and Lieutenant Dave had done a good job (I say immodestly). We’d found the root causes and the exact sequence of events that led to the collapse. I was proud of our work and excited to present the results. Hopefully, we could help prevent a similar problem in future projects world wide.

But Jim told me that when we got to the hearing, no facts we found would matter. No engineering analysis with experimental and lab proof would work. This was because there were lots of ambulance-chasing shysters out for super-fat contingency fees. And there was another shiver of legal sharks circling as well, eager to shift blame anywhere else than onto their client, regardless of what really happened.

Think John Edwards clones slithering toward you in a soulless phalanx, spewing corrosive, truth-dissolving slime as they come. Some of my ancestors might have observed, “White-eyes speak with forked tongue.”

Lieutenant Commander Jim’s counsel saved me that day. It helped reason prevail in the hearing (just barely) and has helped me ever since to think clearly when someone with Shyster skills and a horse in the race claims to be speaking truth. Below, I offer to you what the Commander offered to me.

Commander Jim’s Short Course: Defense Against Shystering 101

The Shysters’ Rules

  • Truth and justice have no place except to dupe others.
  • Calculated displays of deep emotion trump everything.
  • If the facts are against you, argue the law.
  • If the law is against you, defame your opponent.

 What The Rules Mean to You

 If you first hear…

  •  An appeal to justice,

then the speaker thinks you are an ignorant, malleable fool.

  • A very sad story about an individual,

then that story is somehow false or intentionally misleading.

  • An assertion of law,

then the speaker knows the facts would defeat him.

  • A personal slur,

then the speaker is both corrupt and wrong.

Jim’s advice has been useful over the years, helping me sort the foxes from the hens. Just this morning, it helped a half dozen times. As Jim said long ago, “You may not know who is right, but you can sure as Hell figure out who doesn’t give a damn what right is.”

Shysters. Flush! Duh!

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  1. January 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm

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