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A Brain-Based Explanation For Why Old People Get Scammed

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the this-story-won't-fool-my-dad-of-course dept.

Crime 209

sciencehabit writes "Despite long experience with the ways of the world, older people are especially vulnerable to fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, up to 80% of scam victims are over 65. One explanation may lie in a brain region that serves as a built-in crook detector. Called the anterior insula, this structure — which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character — is less active in older people, possibly making them less cagey than younger folks, a new study finds."

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Fraud, He Feared (-1, Offtopic)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 2 years ago | (#42178917)

Fraud, he feared
Lay in the beard
So cash from Corzine
To SuperPAC he steered.
Burma Shave

So they voted for Romney? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42178927)

Just sayin'... the guy looks like such a crook; I always wondered how he could get supporters.

I prefer to think they deserve it... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42178947)

...but I'm a misanthropic asshole who resents the outsized influence the elderly have on America's political system, and wish we could just bring on the death panels and be done with it.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179255)

If young people weren't all such self-involved pricks and actually bothered to spend the 30-45 minutes EVERY TWO YEARS that it takes to CAST A FUCKING VOTE then maybe there wouldn't be such a death grip on this country from the elderly...

One good troll deserves another.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (2, Insightful)

Worthless_Comments (987427) | about 2 years ago | (#42179455)

That's like saying she deserved to be raped because she didn't go to her self-defense classes.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179599)

If your head is too far up your own ass to go cast a ballot for the politicians that best represent your interests, then yes you deserve to get raped (and i bet you will like it).

trooooololololololo

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (3, Interesting)

alexo (9335) | about 2 years ago | (#42179943)

If your head is too far up your own ass to go cast a ballot for the politicians that best represent your interests [...]

Unless you feature in Forbes Magazine, no politician on the ballot represents your interests.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180181)

maybe not, but some are certainly better than others, and who gets elected to congress DOES matter. even if a politician doesn't *precisely* share your views, they may agree on matters you care about most, such as internet freedom or immigration or taxes.

  voting is worth everyone's time.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180499)

If your head is too far up your own ass to go cast a ballot for the politicians that best represent your interests [...]

Unless you feature in Forbes Magazine, no politician on the ballot represents your interests.

This is precisely because politicians must cater first to (a) groups that vote in large, reliable blocks (easy to target) (elderly, gun owners, etc) and (b) individuals with the money to pay for advertising to influence all the rest.

If a politician did spend time trying to ask each constituent what they wanted and then tried to plan a way of delivering on it, they would get about 5% of the way through their district and be so bogged down they would forget when election day was.

If *everyone* voted, and voiced their opinions loud and clear with relevant interest groups, then you bet your sweet ass politicians would pay attention to more interests of "the people". If people could be counted on to make up their minds about issues instead of either not voting or voting for whoever was in the last ad they watched, the "Forbes vote" you pointed out would cease to exist.

tl;dr GO FUCKING VOTE, and then tell as many people you can how and why you voted; be part of the system, don't criticize it's inefficacy when you don't even bother to help it be effective, otherwise you are just as hypocritical as everyone you claim to despise.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179639)

you can't complain about the influence of the elderly when the only reason they have influence is because you refuse to vote. so, your analogy is incorrect. it's more like saying she deserved to be raped because she was asked to have sex and then she responded with "meh, whatever."

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#42179751)

You talk as if there is a way you could vote that would actually change anything. Even assuming that the system worked as intended, at most you'd get to choose one issue where you get to make a positive change. For the other issues things either stay the same, or you get ass-raped.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

alexo (9335) | about 2 years ago | (#42179993)

You talk as if there is a way you could vote that would actually change anything. Even assuming that the system worked as intended, at most you'd get to choose one issue where you get to make a positive change. For the other issues things either stay the same, or you get ass-raped.

The real problem is that every generation complains that the previous one mucked things up and they will make it better once they get in power.
Then they do get in power but "surprisingly" things do not get any better.

It is as if people stop caring about injustice once they are on the right side of it.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 2 years ago | (#42179999)

For whom are we supposed to vote? Rapist 1 or Rapist 2? Either way we get raped.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180247)

well, isn't even one issue worth your while? weed got legalized in two states. change CAN happen if enough people vote for it. imagine that!

so sick of the attitude of "oh, voting never actually affects anything". it's a demonstrable FACT that it does. anyone who says otherwise is just acting anti-establishment to try and sound cool.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#42180649)

Weed got legalised because they held a vote on the actual issue. Of course it's worthwhile voting on individual issues. Jeez.

Voting for a person rather than on issues as a way to express your opinion is like asking your taxi driver to solve a set of riddles rather than telling him your actual destination. How does voting for a specific person say that you want weed legalised? Maybe you abhor weed, but you agree with the rest of the guy's policies, etc. I'd rather we had a system of being allowed to nominate issues and vote on them. Voting certain people into certain positions of authority is probably still a good idea, but it's a very poor way to make your wishes known, and it's dumb to act like things aren't going the way you want simply because you didn't vote for a certain individual.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#42180345)

If voting does not change anything, why do the elderly have outsized influence on America's political system? The best explanation I have seen for that is because they vote.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42180083)

That's like saying she deserved to be raped because she didn't go to her self-defense classes.

Last I checked, standing in line and filling out a form was not a martial art.

However, if we are making it one, I am a fucking black belt.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180155)

Shit, I fill out forms from my desk.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#42180325)

No, it is like saying she deserved to get raped because she dressed like a hooker, spent time standing on a street corner with a bunch of hookers and got in a car with a strange guy who asked if she wanted to party.

Re:I prefer to think they deserve it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179807)

I think you've watched Logans Run a few too many times.

Either that, or... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42178963)

... they have sat around alone and rot their brains for decades in front of a brainwashing, passive TV instead of doing and creating things. I'm not saying it's necessarily "their fault", but I think this is the reason. I am also fully convinced that you get brain damage from watching the TV programmes of today, not to mention the advertisements.

Oooooorrr (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42178965)

It could be that us younger folk have been taught from day one not to believe a damn thing anyone says online.

Re:Oooooorrr (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#42179353)

It could be that us younger folk have been taught from day one not to believe a damn thing anyone says online.

I always thought that was why old people appear to fall for scams more. People brought up before the communication age would have encountered fewer scams when their personalities were forming and would be less able to handle them, they would have dealt mainly with people they would see again.

Re:Oooooorrr (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#42179537)

I agree, 50 years ago, when these people were 15 "Nigeria" was no more than a question on their topography test.
Also, scammers have to find new way's to scam all the time. What worked well for them in 1978 doesn't work these day's (maybe there is an exception for ponzy schemes and pyramid fraud which were 0-day exploits in 1463, but still remain unpatched)
Now I think of it, as this is /. maybe a computer analogue is called for...
Scammers find 0-day exploits to scam the elderly then, after a while, the elderly are warned by the media and the scam doesn't work that good any longer.
Virus makers find 0-day exploits to ravage MS boxes, and people use a VS that (after some time) renders the virus useless.

Ok, maybe that is not such a good one. Anyone care to make a good one? ;-)

Re:Oooooorrr (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#42179643)

In addition to the request for a nice computer analogue, please refrain from calling "a certain OS" outdated, Alzheimer riddled and largely blind to security issues due to senile cataract. It is disrespectful to the elderly.
Thank you. :-)

Re:Oooooorrr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180573)

Fuck a computer analogy. Where is my car analogy?

Re:Oooooorrr (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 2 years ago | (#42179771)

Scams weren't invented with the internet. Ponzi schemes, the tulip investment hysteria, bogus overseas investments in the 1800s, they were all there. It is just far easier to initiate and promote scams now.

Generation Gap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42178975)

Maybe they just grew up at a time when people were more honest?

I'm thinking of going into business with a Nigerian Prince!

Re:Generation Gap? (4, Interesting)

kryliss (72493) | about 2 years ago | (#42179053)

Only during the early TV years did everyone seem so honest and wonderful. Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons and about a million other goody goody TV shows makes the newer generations think that life back then was so golly gee whiz good. There never was a Mayberry and people were just as dishonest then as they are now, the internet just allows us to see it more often.

Re:Generation Gap? (5, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#42179107)

If anything people were less honest. In the 1950s lots of crimes went totally unreported and still their crime rates where rather high. Physical, mental or sexual abuse of family members was very often unreported. In most states a wife could not even report a rape by her husband as no such crime existed.

The homicide rate today for the USA is lower than it was in 1960.

Re:Generation Gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179469)

Even if the percentage of people committing to scam are constant over time, the modern day communication (e.g. TV, VoIP for phone spam) make it easier to reach a much larger population cheaper, faster and across distances/borders. This means that previously you are only reachable by local/traveling artists, now you could be affected by them in the whole world.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#42179603)

At the same time getting information about what is a scam is also much easier. Even if no one in your family knows, surely one of them can use google.

Re:Generation Gap? (-1, Flamebait)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 2 years ago | (#42179911)

Getting married is about the clearest consent to sex that is possible. A woman could always report being assaulted by her husband. "Rape without force" in the context of marriage is the kind of extreme legal perversion that happens when lesbians write laws.

Re:Generation Gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180227)

I wish I could downvote you.

Re:Generation Gap? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180645)

Rape without physical force is possible, and probably relatively common compared to physical rape.

Don't think that all guys happily accept sex anytime with just any woman. We're choosy too, though it may not be as obvious.

I'm a guy, and I've been pushed into sex. It was bordering on rape as I didn't really want to, but felt pushed into it. (I don't want to go into detail.) I wouldn't call my situation a clear case of rape because of the situation (still don't want to go into detail) but I can well imagine people who are pushed into sex by blackmail and other non-violent pressure.

But to scoff at it and say "Suuure he didn't want it. He's a guy, so of course he want's it." is actually extremely painful. Do I sound soppy? Not manly enough? I'm posting AC because although I'm about as blokey (in some ways a jock) as they come (pun not intended), I'm also human and have feelings. But as a guy, it's usually best to hide such feelings for fear of being ridiculed. And that is how things such as non-violent rape fly under the radar.

Re:Generation Gap? (2)

ion++ (134665) | about 2 years ago | (#42180113)

If anything people were less honest. In the 1950s lots of crimes went totally unreported and still their crime rates where rather high. Physical, mental or sexual abuse of family members was very often unreported. In most states a wife could not even report a rape by her husband as no such crime existed.

The homicide rate today for the USA is lower than it was in 1960.

Citation needed

Re:Generation Gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179945)

Agreed.

The book "The Telephone Booth Indian" has plenty of stories about crooks and scams, from back in the 1920's and 30's.

Re:Generation Gap? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#42180051)

There never was a Mayberry and people were just as dishonest then as they are now

I have to disagree at least for the US. Over the past half century a lot of rural places have changed from not locking one's doors to widespread theft of agricultural equipment and various manifestations of the drug war, such as marijuana growing and meth labs.

Another place is college. Try leaving a laptop or bicycle unlocked and unattended. Fifty years ago you could have gotten away with it except for perhaps the most urbanized colleges.

It is worth noting that just as there is the myth of Mayberry, there's also the myth of the Children of the Corn, namely, that small towns have "dark secrets". My view is that small towns were more honest because that is what it takes for a small, isolated society where everyone knows everyone, to survive. It also becomes much harder for dishonesty to profit. You have a small set of possible targets, and they'll figure it out eventually.

When you get large urban societies or a massive, flat society like the internet, potential con artists can easily move from one mark to the next as well as filter through large numbers of potential targets for a mark. Thieves have a sea of targets to choose from. The payoff for dishonesty and theft is much better.

So I agree that the people haven't really changed. But the payoffs for various sorts of dishonesty have changed.

Re:Generation Gap? (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#42180477)

There were some pluses to living in the 1950's, but there were almost all related to the fact that men ages 20-50 were in short supply after WWII. For instance, white men could get better (in terms of wages, benefits, and hours) jobs than are available now and could marry better (because they were so outnumbered by women who wanted to get married).

That difference is actually key to the modern American social conservative narrative, which sells the (completely bogus) idea that if we had the same social structure white people had in the 1950's, we'd have the economic success that white families enjoyed in the 1950's. And of course, if you weren't white, it's a completely different story.

Re:Generation Gap? (2)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 2 years ago | (#42179121)

Yes this, now mind you it is even worse with my grandmother as she is hard core christian. She thinks everyone is good and can be trustworthy My grandmother got scammed TWICE from those door to door energy people who have crazy high rates (although maybe not technically a scam as they do provide the service, the rates are outrageous) Twice from those people who call up claiming they are from Microsoft and say they found errors on her PC .. even after me repeatedly telling her to immediately hang up the phone if she ever gets a call from people claiming to help out with her computer. Sad part is both times she called me up immediately after asking if it was the right choice.. so I had to tell her to call her credit card company right away, as well as clean up her computer Almost got hit by one of those Nigerian 419 scams, she was in communication with them and was just about to send them her banking details before she called up my father asking about it first.. thank God.. Sad part is, each time she falls for this scam, she tells everyone the story and almost brags/seems pleased that she got scammed.. I don't get it

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 2 years ago | (#42179141)

fucking slashdot and not keeping line breaks

Re:Generation Gap? (3, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42179171)

almost brags/seems pleased that she got scammed.. I don't get it

Attention seeking behavior. Look on the bright side, decades earlier she would have been wearing miniskirts and bikinis, aren't you glad she's changed tactics?

Re:Generation Gap? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42179201)

Wouldn't a hardcore christian know about things like 'original sin' and(if catholic) 'concupiscence' or (if protestant) the necessity of salvation through grace? There are certainly variants of christianity that emphasize the redeemability of all people; but what flavors espouse the notion that the world isn't actually pretty full of malicious dickheads, albeit ones that might be redeemed?

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42179865)

Verily, verily..

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

-- Matthew 10:16

Clearly, too many people focus on the "be harmless" part.

Re:Generation Gap? (0)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#42179495)

Hard core Christians have trained themselves to believe anything.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#42180123)

No, hard core Baha'i have trained themselves to believe anything. Hard core Christians have trained themselves to believe the tenets of Christianity (a tautology).

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 2 years ago | (#42179565)

Yes this, now mind you it is even worse with my grandmother as she is hard core christian. She thinks everyone is good and can be trustworthy

Hmm... the Bible is full of quotes to the effect that one should be very careful at trusting another person. Two I know about are "I send you forth as sheep among wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matthew 10:16) and "Cursed is the man who trusts in man" (Jeremiah 17:5). There are probably more. Maybe you could tell her to keep those in mind? Perhaps even print them in a huge type and fix them as portraits near her phone and computer? I know my own grandma surely benefits from these, as I keep remembering her that's how she's supposed to react and so far she managed to avoid being scammed.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 2 years ago | (#42179957)

good point, thank you. I will keep this in mind.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

kryliss (72493) | about 2 years ago | (#42180525)

I am far from religious but those two quotes are definitely words of wisdom.... Maybe there's merit to some of the words in that book. Guess I would have to cherry pick what works best for me. :)

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#42179619)

I don't think it's coincidence that scam artists will target highly religious people. It's probably the potent mix of gullibility and trustworthiness that makes them an easy mark.

Re:Generation Gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180209)

Before my family got my grandmother into a kind of supervised assisted living facility, she got scammed by the "excess asphalt" driveway pavers, where they quote a low price / foot, without telling her it is /foot^2 or 3. Then, she got scammed by the driveway sealer people. Then, she paid some traveler to do her porch gutters halfway and wrong, taking off with the money she paid him before he finished, and was going to pay some roaming worker to take down a tree in the back yard, and got quite pissed off at my mother for asking him if he was licensed/bonded/insured (he wasn't). She complained to her sister, who was/is still in her right mind, and she told her that this wasn't the 1930's, and that she should wise up. Around that time, my mom finally got my grandmother to see a neurologist, who found she scored 14 or 17 out of 30 on the MMSA test (I forget which). She ended up dying a few years later from complications of a brain tumor.

I don't think I've ever been called by an honest telemarketer, if such a thing exists. I would love to see the individual telemarketers who work for the "Card Services" scammers prosecuted, as they violate the law by refusing to give a physical address or identify themselves, but it seems a shame to lock someone up for stupidity, and they simply have no skills to offer as community service, since most of them couldn't learn the route as elevator operators.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42180531)

just wait a few years. eventually youll get old too. and as you get old you'll be glad for every chance you get to talk to other people about anything. because it wont be long before you're in the ground, and no one wants to go quietly, unnoticed and unmissed having not connected with anyone on the way there.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#42179235)

It's a myth (based on unreliable memory) that people were more honest Back In My Day.
See: Richard Nixon. Frank Abagnale. Charles Ponzi. Piltdown Man. P.T. Barnum.

Re:Generation Gap? (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#42179405)

Maybe they just grew up at a time when people were more honest?

Maybe they grew up in a time where they could find the scumbags that treated them dishonestly.

Nowadays the scumbags don't need to be near you to attempt to scam you.

Re:Generation Gap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179461)

I'd rather say, they do not know the new tricks. In their times, a random scoundrel would buy a baseball stick, find a dark street corner and then just look through their pockets and beat them on good-bye. Today, an advertiser together with a lawyer study for years, how to bribe others, legally or illegally.

Tonight at 10pm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42178981)

old people are old. details at 10pm.

Re:Tonight at 10pm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179303)

old people are old. details after they go to bed. we dont want to upset them.

FTFY

Also keep in mind... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#42178983)

...these are the same people who used to see deals on infomercials and think they had to buy it right then and there.

Just Desensitized (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179011)

By the time you're over 65 you've been lied to soooooo many times that it doesn't even register any more.

Well, that and a bunch of other stuff (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#42179099)

They're also (as a general populace) more lonely, less educated, more dependent on repairmen to do tasks for them, and more financially well-off than their younger counterparts.

They're basically the perfect soup for travelers, gypsy trash, and other assorted con-artist-pieces-of-shit to take advantage of. Makes me want to go back to the days when a tall tree and short noose waited for that filth when they got caught. There is very little in this world lower than someone willing to take advantage of the elderly.

Re:Well, that and a bunch of other stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180101)

> There is very little in this world lower than someone willing to take advantage of the elderly.

How about arrogant fat heads who would think nothing of murdering their fellow man rather than to seek to understand him ?

Re:Well, that and a bunch of other stuff (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42180565)

what's to understand about a con man who criminally takes advantage of others through fraud?

Re:Well, that and a bunch of other stuff (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180169)

That's some primo racism in there buddy. Here's a hint: If you replace the word "gypsy" by "jew" or "black" or "muslim" and something would appear racist, then it's racist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiziganism [wikipedia.org]

But of course you'll claim you're not a racist, and travelers are really like that, because you know someone who heard something that happened this one time, right?

Re:Well, that and a bunch of other stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180593)

Is racism illegal? I suppose so, but in our 'everyone must be equal' culture we've builtup over the years, there is no room for the facts. Fact is if you meet a black person they are 6x more likely to commit a crime than a white person(see prison stats, IE: if your weary of strangers you should be 6x more of a black stranger).
Lookup city-data demographics and crime data, murder rates and more from other continents...
There are also a few studies on intelligences of different races whos's links get buried often. Not that you can't be black, yellow, or green and be the most respectable intelligent human on EARTH, just from what we KNOW of common traits it's not unwise to be a bit racist.
I don't believe people who work with or grew-up in multicultural environments would 'truly' disagree. At least not on an anonymous polling ;p

P.S. I think they should make phone and door solicitation illegal unless op-ed IN! Surely we can cut their phone lines quick, and charge with trespassing easily enough.

 

Re:Well, that and a bunch of other stuff (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#42180467)

I'm right on the cusp of the baby boomer gen (on the younger side), I'm turning 50 in 4 months, so I'm just entering into this era of my life. I have to say that either I'm not in the norm OR I being an IT professional has helped OR I'm just a jaded old fart because I've certainly grown much more cynical of other people and institutions, not less. Last 419 email I got (its been a while) I fucked with the guy. I understand that old scam still traps a lot of older folk.

oh just that? (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#42179117)

All brain functions are in decline throughout most of our lives, I doubt any one specific area has much more of an impact than any other. Judgement, trust, memory, reasoning, caution, etc.

Up to a certain point, sheer experience helps prevent older folks from being scammed, but somewhere there's going to be a tipping point in most people's cognitive skills in general that make them an easier mark. A headline like "Elderly found to be easier to scam!" just gets "no kidding!" from me.

I'd also wager the average 85 yr old is easier to coax into a stranger's car than the average 5 yr old.

I'm sure I'll get a reply from one or two telling me their Aunt Gracie was sharp as a whip till the day she died at 90, and you'll run into that from time to time, but those people are by far the exception to the rule.

Re:oh just that? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42179449)

All brain functions are in decline throughout most of our lives, I doubt any one specific area has much more of an impact than any other. Judgement, trust, memory, reasoning, caution, etc.

You have to live for an awful long time to make up for it, or in a very unusual culture, where teens and twenty-somethings are the pinnacle of judgement, caution, and reasoning. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it at the time, but compared to way back then, I've slowly improved to something like wise old Gandalf now.

I don't think any of that peaks until probably 50s or so. Maybe early 60s. Its an exercisable facility, 40 adult years of watching TV is not going to improve that individual, but on average a peak around 60 is probably realistic.

Re:oh just that? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 2 years ago | (#42179811)

I've successfully developed my brain to the point where I don't trust anyone. :)

Re:oh just that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179697)

I doubt any one specific area has much more of an impact than any other.

I doubt you have even the slightest knowledge of what you're talking about.

Isn't it obvious? (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42179119)

As we all know, the human cerebral cortex is heavily wrinkled, allowing a very large sheet of neural network to fit inside the skull.

During the aging process, the wrinkles gradually diffuse through the skull, collecting on the skin surface, and leaving the cerebral cortex much less efficiently packed. This, obviously, is why old people are wrinkly and suffer cognitive decline. What theory could be simpler or more parsimonious?

"Unsavory Character" != Crook (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42179167)

Called the anterior insula, this structure — which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character

Just because someone's shady looking, does not mean they're a thief. The inverse holds true as well.

Truth be told, most-if-not-all of us have been robbed of far more by white guys in suits, rather than black guys in hoodies.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#42179329)

Just because someone's shady looking, does not mean they're a thief. The inverse holds true as well.

But its still statistically correct enough to be a survival advantage.

From an evolutionary standpoint, I'm guessing its something like: If as a youth you're sitting around the campfire and the faces are "not-family" either you're lost at the wrong campfire or its wartime or whatever so be worried. As an old dude you're sitting around the campfire and the faces are "not-family" that's because all your ancestors/family are dead and these weirdos are your in-laws, so chill and play nice with them.

Old people having stuff worth stealing is a recent phenomena.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#42180621)

Old people having stuff worth stealing is a recent phenomena.

No, the longer you're here the more time you have to collect stuff.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#42179379)

"Signs of untrustworthiness include averted eyes; an insincere smile that doesn't reach the eyes; a smug, smirky mouth; and a backward tilt to the head."

It's not about some new age, face based phrenology; it's about reading body language and facial expressions. Especially the involuntary micro-expressions that we all make every minute of every day but that are too subtle to be consciously detected by most people. A "smile that doesn't reach the eyes" isn't something you're going to see and say to yourself "he's not really smiling" but you will say "something's just... not quite right with that guy".

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42180111)

That's outdated. It's perfectly possible to train smiling with your eyes. That's the whole point of being a sociopath, no connection to any actual emotional state or bond with the other required.

No, what this describes is the average (if not cocky) amateur doing something fishy, it's how you catch a dumb person in an unprepared lie. But that's about it.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180617)

That explains why old people are constantly getting scammed by people on the phone and by internet pop-ups. They can't read faces like they used to.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#42179479)

Just because someone's shady looking, does not mean they're a thief.

Enough about McAfee already.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

1s44c (552956) | about 2 years ago | (#42179633)

Truth be told, most-if-not-all of us have been robbed of far more by white guys in suits, rather than black guys in hoodies.

As in several orders of magnitude more. A mugger might want my pocket change once but the government takes a third of my income before I even see it, then comes back to demand extra fees on everything I buy.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179953)

And then they give it to the guy who steals your pocket change! It's scandalous!

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#42180659)

And you get nothing in return! Poor baby.

I was watching The Queen of Versailles the other night (a pretty amazing documentary) and in one scene the tycoon is bragging on the phone that he defaulted on a $9M loan, then secretly sent a third party to the bank to buy back the assets on auction for $3M. Just like that, he stole $6M with a few phone calls, probably completely legally. More welfare than a dozen inner-city welfare moms could get in a lifetime. No retribution, even after everybody knows. The best way to rob a bank is to own one.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179837)

white guys in suits... black guys in hoodies

Somewhere in there is a joke about Zuckerberg, but I just can't put my finger on it.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42180185)

White guys in hoodies are only able to steal your money if you are dumb enough to buy into their company.

On the other hand, they have already stolen your soul and identity via their social network, so I suppose they have to leave you something.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 2 years ago | (#42180011)

Just because someone's shady looking, does not mean they're a thief.....
Truth be told, most-if-not-all of us have been robbed of far more by white guys in suits....

Yes, white guys in suits look like crooks. But why are you contradicting your own statements?!

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#42180059)

Actually, I'd even say the average crook is going to be look slicker and come across warmer than the average person. Kinda like I'd expect a professional boxer to have a stronger biceps than average.

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#42180623)

Actually, I'd even say the average crook is going to be look slicker and come across warmer than the average person. Kinda like I'd expect a professional boxer to have a stronger biceps than average.

Agreed, but what person do you see others shy away from on the street more readily - a guy in a nice suit, or that shaggy dude wearing 6 coats and mean-mugging everyone?

Re:"Unsavory Character" != Crook (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42180641)

being PC is ruining peoples' comprehension of simple things.

"shady looking" is less about physical looks and more about behaviour and mannerisms (failure to maintain eye contact, inability to keep still, hem/haws before answering a straight question, etc.), though being unkempt or bleary eyed are also indicators of someone "not at their best".

For when the metal ones decide to come for you (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 2 years ago | (#42179205)

This might also explain why so many of them watch Fox News and buy stupid things on TV. In fact, the association between right wing causes and commercial scams is well known [thebaffler.com] .

Perhaps trust in cable tv news too? (1)

theskipper (461997) | about 2 years ago | (#42179267)

Without picking on any network in particular, according to Nielson one network has an average viewer age over 65. Surprisingly, the competing networks are not wildly younger wrt age demos.

Not the source but a nice overview of the demographics:
http://www.quora.com/Fox-News-cable-news-network/What-are-the-demographics-of-Fox-News-viewers [quora.com]

Could certainly be considered trollish, I know. But it's an interesting hypothesis nonetheless.

Re:Perhaps trust in cable tv news too? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#42179503)

No need to ask Nielson, I caught a few minutes of that network waiting for a doctor, all commercials were for gold, seniors insurance, medicines and mobility scooters.

I Have A Different Theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179277)

Shits always changing, new rules, new procedures, new technology...

People generally fight these changes at first and then come to accept them over time either form being worn down or finally accepting that they have no control over the matter, as with government bureaucracies.

As people age, complex thought becomes more difficult and cloudy. Memory fades and the willingness to learn the new procedure, rules or tech declines. Combine this with a lifetime of learning that you may as well accept it because you're going to lose the fight and you have elderly people far more willing to accept shady come-ons as legit.

e.g. I regularly get snail mail "disguised" to look official replete with very official looking seals and logos that claim new government fees or programs for which I should sign up for. In the past I spotted them immediately and tossed them, but increasingly I'm having to give them a second or third look before deciding they are scams.

One final note, how many twenty-somethings get scammed and then report it to the FTC. I suspect they just suck it up because their bitch ass is embarrassed.

If they think only the elderly are easy . . . (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 2 years ago | (#42179301)

If they think the elderly are easy, they haven't met doctors, newly successful pro athletes and salesmen of all kinds.

Is this right? (2)

blogagog (1223986) | about 2 years ago | (#42179589)

I've found in my life that kids 15 and under fall for scams much more often than senior citizens. Think 'fad' if you don't agree. Fad is after all, just a slow scam. Got any beany babies?

Voting for Office (1)

Kingkaid (2751527) | about 2 years ago | (#42179857)

I think this article also explains why the older parts of the population have a better percentage turnout for voting ;)

confounds confounds everywhere.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179909)

"A question to be addressed in future research, she says, is whether decreased activity in the insula is the cause or the effect of older peoples' more positive outlook. "It may be that older people engage with the world in a certain way and this is reflected in the brain activity."

"

I wonder if anyone bothered to check whether increased activity in the anterior insula correlated with increased adrenalin production - as in 'I'm going to have to flee from/fight with this threat, so lets ramp up the activation and pay lots of attention to what my body's doing"

So that explains ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42179967)

So that explains why MS sales always want to talk to the senior VP/CIO/... they know they are suckers.

Young people today! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180401)

20 years ago I would have said this article was complete bunk. But today it seems quite reasonable!

This would explain a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180479)

This would explain how so many grandparents like their grandchildren

cause they get stupid (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | about 2 years ago | (#42180523)

ya know old timers disease and people can then prey on that
one reason why if i ever seesuch in real life i will beat the fucking tar out of you

so remember if you get caught your gonna get PAIN

No problem, just get Old Glory fraud insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42180609)

Because sometimes not only do robots attack, they also lie.

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