Baby dragons for sale – Believe it or not?

At first I was amused by the number of comments, likes and shares the ‘dragons for sale’ advertisement received. To be exact, 555 shares, 237 likes and 150 comments on one of the posts.

As the interest grew, I became concerned and when my inbox started flooding, my phone started ringing, and some potential buyers even phoned my wife to try and get hold of me, I was really worried.

People wanted to buy the baby dragons. Some demanded my bank details to make immediate payment to secure their purchase. Others were very concerned and asked that I please ensure they go to good homes. Then there was also the obvious comment that the dragons were evil and came straight from the devil.

Between answering phone calls from potential buyers and the constant beeping of my phone, I was left to wonder – why do people so badly want to believe in dragons? A friend commented that this is exactly why people fall for scams.

There is no shortage of online scams doing the rounds these days, and you only have to do a quick flip through Facebook to see that people are sharing the most horrendously inaccurate and false news posts, without sparing a moment to consider their validity. People believe just about everything, and the reasons for this are quite sadly emotions and laziness.

The psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, friend and colleague to Sigmund Freud, is well known for his theories of subconscious archetypes.
In its most basic form, the theory states that all humans have a collective unconscious that contains archetypes, or characteristics, like a caring mother.

This will then explain why an image of an infant, or baby animal, overrides logic with instinctive emotion, which is not usually the best stance from which to make sound and valid reasoning.

Emotion also gets in the way of reasoning when want kicks in. As in the case of scams, the want of that perfect promise of gain that is pushed under your nose can confuse logic to the point where you only see yourself enjoying the spoils, and not losing what you invested.

On the other hand, we also get overwhelmed with the amount of information we have to deal with every day. Hundreds of posts flash before our eyes on Facebook and there is simply not enough time to logically reason over each one. So we resort to mental shortcuts like the availability heuristic. What this means is that our brains make a quick calculation based only on the most accessible information.

The original for sale post

In the case of the baby dragons, it will look something like this: Have I seen real animals for sale on Facebook? Are there real animals called dragons? Does the picture look like a real picture? Yes, yes, yes, and boom kicks in the emotion! “Oh they are so cute. This must be true. I want one!”

Just for the record, I did not take anyone’s money, even though it is scary how easy it would have been. When it comes to spending our hard-earned money, it’s always better to think with our heads.

Just to give you an idea of what I’ve had to go through in the past few days, here’s what my inbox currently looks like:

Benno Stander
Online editor / features writer

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