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August 25, 2012

Lance Armstrong Gunderson, Con Man



The con-artist recently known as Lance Armstrong, originally known as Lance Edward Gunderson, has played nolo contendre and placed himself among the ranks of such other ethical stalwarts as Spiro Agnew.

In general, cheating for profit and benefits is fraud, fraud is a crime, and perpetrators of crime are prosecuted. That's a pretty standard approach in the civilized world; the fact that it is not always followed does not make it less valid.

This particular scammer enlarged his game beyond the initial hustle. He levelled-up to build a heroic narrative out of his cancer recovery and made himself into a cause and a hero for everybody that has had somebody fighting cancer (which is a universal condition).

In making himself the person who takes a stand against cancer (a fairly safe proposition), he has played on the emotions of millions to establish his brand and his sinecure.

He joins the likes of Haile Selassie, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard and Pat Robertson in the pantheon of hucksters who have built narratives, organizations, and economies that outlive their originator's utility in spite of a fraudulent foundation.

These are the successful metaphysical Ponzi schemes, the cults that become Too Big To Fail, the once-marginal beliefs that move into the mainstream and demand to be treated with the same respect as all other belief systems. Whereas economic Ponzi schemes can be found out through accounting, there's no challenging a metaphysical Ponzi scheme because it's in the realm of belief, and we have freedom of belief.

When it works, it's the con man's climbing the Mount Everest of Moral Equivalence, it's L. Ron Hubbard saying, treat my believers just like the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, because - hey, who's to say? After the denouement, the True Believers will aver, Sure he's done wrong, but he's done a lot of good. Google Jimmy Swaggart.

The puzzle is, how do we engage otherwise good, intelligent, honorable people who subscribe to these narratives? Do we marginalize them as marks and suckers? Do we treat them as misguided but well-intentioned? Do we respect their beliefs, hold our noses and disregard what we know of their weltanschauung?

It's pretty easy to not care about Tom Cruise's religion. It's understandable to consider the belief structure of a person wearing magic underwear who also wants to be in charge of nuclear weapons. It offends me to see a con-man hustling yellow rubber bands, hawking membership-identity-affinity paraphernalia, and playing on the emotions of cancer patients and their families.



To me, that's the true fraud of Lance Gunderson, and I believe he is yet to be held accountable for it. We note for the record that LiveStrong doesn't contribute any money at all for cancer research. None.


3 comments:

Ward said...

I'm no Lance fan, but it seems to me that emphasizing "Gunderson" without context is a come-down for you. Your analysis of the FAA and NextGen was highly analytical, now you're trying to score points by implying there's something dishonest about his using Armstrong. Surely it's not unusual for someone to use his adoptive father's name instead of that of his birth father who abandoned him?

And although I think it's quite likely that Lance and most other TdF contenders have used drugs, I'm not willing to blindly take the word of the USADA that the evidence is compelling. Just as Lockheed Martin and other NextGen boosters have a vested interest in twisting the truth, so do the anti-doping agencies.

Of course the USADA says that their evidence is incontrovertible, but just like any other body that conducts investigations, they're biased in their own favour.

So discounting the public statements of the two camps because they're both biased, the evidence I've heard of is:

- hundreds of tests that didn't show Lance using drugs
- no evidence (that I've heard of) of doctors or drug labs helping him use drugs
- some statements that more recent tests of old samples showed drug use
- statements that teammates have testified that Lance used drugs

I look at all that and come up with "inconclusive," and wish that if they really wanted to do something about doping, they'd focus on what's happening now.

Maria said...

Wow! I didn't know that none of the money went to research. Thanks

F.M. said...

Anytime you start to believe in someone else more than in your own self, you gotta be disappointed.

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