In the San Pedro, California prison, loser Charlie Manson took a course in the principles set down by Dale Carnegie in "How to Win Friends & Influence People."
He was there for auto theft. Until then, he had been unable to get his head around how to get the control and recognition he wanted. Although he had not been a good reader, he was able to absorb every word of every chapter of the Carnegie method.
He left the joint equipped with the skills needed to have people, both men and women, serve his self-interest. His first try at big success was a recording career. The amazing thing is that, despite limited talent, he did reach the right people to get auditions.
When that didn't pan out, Manson moved on to an evangelical mission of re-shaping the world. The foot soldiers would be young women.
As the program "Dateline"described them, those youthful females were "bent but not broken." Manson achieved the control he wanted. Eventually he became globally recognized as a master of manipulation.
As he ages in prison, that ability is still being studied by experts. Meantime, it's obvious that the world has to be continually educated about how the "bad guys" lock into our trust, need to belong and be loved.
Some of that education about not falling for the next Manson comes through pop culture.
At the top of the list is the long-running television series "Criminal Minds." The MOs of serial killers are explained in detail. The lessons are positioned and packaged on "Criminal Minds" in effective ways. We come to see those horrific brutes as themselves victims. Those lessons are reinforced by outing the myopia of the FBI agents themselves. Most can't sustain an intimate relationship off the job. What we get is that all humanity has its dark side. So, be alert. That could save your life.
On a pro bono basis, lawyers might also share with all of us how the fundamentals of persuasion can be twisted to harm. That outreach can start pre-school.
Influence, as we all know, has become the currency of the 21st century. A businessman who was better at that than even a professional politico is now U.S. president. That's how the world now works. But the usual arrogance which does in some many of us could be kicking in. It may be saying that we ourselves are way too well put together to be manipulated in that way.
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