Multi level marketing

Pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes, Newcomb unboxing

Notes on various schemes in the vicinity of multi level marketing. Although I would like to be broader than that.

I am not interested in selling perfume in a pyramid scheme but I would be lying if I said I my life was completely divorced from such things. After all, academia has some of the characteristics of such a scheme (Afonso 2014).

Nondeterministic pyramid schemes

What about undecidable MLMs, where if the scheme succeeds then everyone wins but if it fails only the early adopters do? In that case what even is it? Or more general examples of games that are potentially positive-sum? Maybe doubling down on technology to solve global crises is an instance of such a scheme. Maybe cryptocurrency is an instance of such a scheme.

Over in the anthropic principles section, I wondered about that in the context of the Hobart essay, Sin, Secret, Series A. Every startup needs to know something wherein it is argued that many startups are non-deterministically Ponzi schemes, where if their founding myth can be fulfilled and they attain market dominance then they go great, otherwise…

Question: what does evidential decision theory say about such things?

Anthropic principles in

Where in the hype cycle do you encounter a product? Which is the most likely level that you will join a Ponzi scheme? See anthropic principles.

Credit networks as

See financial stability.

Game theory

Looks a little like the minority game? Asymmetric information games? I imagine someone has done this.


Afonso, Alexandre. 2014. β€œHow Academia Resembles a Drug Gang.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY.
Caldarelli, Guido, Alessandro Chessa, Fabio Pammolli, Andrea Gabrielli, and Michelangelo Puliga. n.d. β€œReconstructing a Credit Network.” Nature Physics 9 (3): 125–26.
Cornelius-Bell, Aidan, and Piper A. Bell. 2021. β€œThe Academic Precariat Post-COVID-19.” Fast Capitalism 18 (1).
Eom, Young-Ho, and Santo Fortunato. 2011. β€œCharacterizing and Modeling Citation Dynamics.” PLoS ONE 6 (9): –24926.
Filimonov, Vladimir, and Didier Sornette. 2012. β€œQuantifying Reflexivity in Financial Markets: Toward a Prediction of Flash Crashes.” Physical Review E 85 (5): 056108.
Filimonov, Vladimir, Spencer Wheatley, and Didier Sornette. 2015. β€œEffective Measure of Endogeneity for the Autoregressive Conditional Duration Point Processes via Mapping to the Self-Excited Hawkes Process.” Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation 22 (1–3): 23–37.
Galbiati, Marco, Danilo Delpini, and Stefano Battiston. n.d. β€œThe Power to Control.” Nature Physics 9 (3): 126–28.
Hardiman, Stephen J., Nicolas Bercot, and Jean-Philippe Bouchaud. 2013. β€œCritical Reflexivity in Financial Markets: A Hawkes Process Analysis.” The European Physical Journal B 86 (10): 1–9.
Hetzer, Moritz, and Didier Sornette. 2013. β€œAn Evolutionary Model of Cooperation, Fairness and Altruistic Punishment in Public Good Games.” PLoS ONE 8 (11): e77041.
Kaushik, Rahul, and Stefano Battiston. 2013. β€œCredit Default Swaps Drawup Networks: Too Interconnected to Be Stable?” PLoS ONE 8 (7): e61815.
Lux, Thomas, and Didier Sornette. 2002. β€œOn Rational Bubbles and Fat Tails.” Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 34: 589–610.
Shleifer, Andrei, and Robert W. Vishny. 1997. β€œA Survey of Corporate Governance.” The Journal of Finance 52 (2): 737–83.
Sornette, Didier, Thomas Maillart, and Giacomo Ghezzi. 2014. β€œHow Much Is the Whole Really More Than the Sum of Its Parts? 1 ⊞ 1 = 2.5: Superlinear Productivity in Collective Group Actions.” PLoS ONE 9 (8): e103023.

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