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Why Do We Keep Falling For False Prophets?

False prophets – we’ve all been taken in by them at one time or another. So have I. We encounter them everywhere in everyday life, in different situations and in every area of life. We fall for them and their promises. And it’s not just the gullible people among us that we listen to them and – even worse – want to believe them.

False prophets come in different guises: be it the gum drops that supposedly shed pounds, the innovative miracle cream that erases wrinkles, the wow dress that makes you look five kilos slimmer in no time, or the self-proclaimed happiness coach who is the only one who can lead you down the path of happiness.

When talk is golden…

Jesus also preached to his followers, but for free. He did not take a penny for it. Today’s preachers of salvation call themselves coaches and take gold for their speeches. Take Anthony Robbins, for example. He is an advisor to former President Bill Clinton, coaches members of two royal families, members of parliament, professional athletes and CEOs of the 500 largest companies in the USA. For a one-hour speech, he charges fees ranging from US$300,000 to US$500,000. If you want to have Robbins all to yourself for a day, you have to dig deep into your pockets and pay around US$1,000,000 for an individual booking. It’s no wonder that his private fortune is estimated at around $600 million.

“Discover the Meaning of Your Life” is the headline on Robbins’ website. At the Greator Festival in Cologne, Germany, July 28-29, 2023, attendees who had booked tickets for his talk hung on his lips like disciples. Charisma the guy must have. And he lets himself pay that with such appearances depending upon proximity to him with several green bills per person. Once again so much on top pays the one who would like to take a photo with the master with home. That’s how you pull money out of people’s pockets.

False prophets in disguise

Another example for false prophets is TikTok star Anthony Youn, a plastic surgeon from Detroit/Michigan with 8.3 million followers. His messages like “Two Minutes, 5 Years Younger” skin care routine, which he spreads in a book, go viral among his social media followers. He sells his skin care line of four products on Amazon, list price US$256 for a set. The book to go with it is available for US$30.

Anyone who falls for the idea of the false prophet’s promise of looking 5 years younger in 2 minutes hasn’t done their biology homework. But apparently faith really does move mountains. But didn’t the apostles teach the following: “Whoever asks you for money is a false prophet. You must not listen to him.” (from the book “Didache or Doctrine of the Apostles“)….

Principle of hope

Even if our mind and the logical thinking advise us to keep our hands off something because it simply can’t work, we don’t want to hear that – although we would then be spared some disappointments in the first place. But we want to believe him, the false prophet. We hope to solve the supposed problem with his help. Because, as the saying goes, hope dies last.

According to Dr. Rolf Merkle, a German psychologist and psychotherapist (deceased 2019), hope is an elixir of life – just like confidence. Hope drives us to make a difference. Without hope, we lose faith that there can be a positive turnaround. It is coupled with a positive expectation without the certainty that what is desired will occur. “Hope is like oxygen, we can’t live without it,” Merkle said.

No hope, no future

This is undoubtedly true. But the hope that tempts us to listen to a false prophet will get us nowhere. Identifying such a person today, however, requires a great deal of knowledge, critical judgment and independent discernment. And this includes a self-confident attitude and one’s own conviction.

In big matters and with people, I actually succeed quite well. Only in material matters I tend to listen to false prophets, for example, the product that promises me miracles that I know cannot realistically happen, do I sometimes weaken and want to try it out…

false prophets, hope

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