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Elective stupidity



Stupidity is a choice.

Not entirely, perhaps. Broad generalizations are generally stupid. (There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who believe stupid things like “there are two kinds of people in the world” and those who understand the world is complicated and haunted.) But, generally, stupidity is like happiness–something most of us can achieve or resist.

My source on this is general experience. I have spent my life studying people, investigating them, asking them questions. Most of them are average, no matter what their station in life. All of them are special too, in some ways. Some of them have remarkable talents. Some of them can jump high or run fast. Some can produce beautiful tones with their breath and/or their hands. Some of them have reservoirs of patience and can lean into the task at hand with great powers of concentration.

That is why human beings are fascinating. We are all alike, and all different. Most of us can do something that the rest find surprising. (I do not know if this makes us unique among other species, because I haven’t studied other species as closely as I have our own, but to me it looks like all squirrels possess about the same level of athleticism, and while it is apparent that some dogs are smarter than others, none of them seem to amaze–or even very much impress–other dogs.)

Yet, aside from their special abilities, which a lot of them will tell you are just things they learned to do, these people are pretty much like other people. I’ve never met Michael Jordan, but I bet if you knew him you’d probably think of him a lot differently than those of us who only know him through his basketball exploits and brand representations. You would know the ordinary Mike, and you would understand that he, like the rest of us, has to make an active choice between happiness and unhappiness, between being stupid and being engaged with the wider world as it presents itself to our limited senses.

Even smart people are capable of embracing stupidity, and most of us are stupid in some ways. I might even argue that it’s healthy to be a little stupid about things that don’t matter, things like sports and pop culture and muscle cars and Scotch. Our poor brains work so hard and illuminate so little that it can be a relief and a pleasure to give in to the mystery. Like the guy says, you gotta have faith.

Still, you have to have faith in the right things. It’s dangerous to have faith in politicians and salespeople, though we need politicians and salespeople. It’s dangerous to have faith in newspaper columnists. And it’s really dangerous to have faith in YouTube videos and Tumblr posts.

I have been witnessing and writing about the stupidification of the world since at least the 1980s. The working title of my 1997 book The Shortstop’s Son (which you can order from the University of Arkansas Press) was The Tyranny of the Dull Normal, which was sort of a in-joke based on a certain fashion for similar titles that graced a slew of non-fiction best-sellers in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but also referred to a particular 1990 essay collected in the book about the way we were creeping toward imbecility in our responses to manufactured pop outrages by the likes of Madonna, 2 Live Crew and Andrew Dice Clay. (And Peter Handke, who’d go on to win a Nobel Prize for literature.)

Other essays in that book included a 1996 piece that notes how we “sign up as members of a thought tribe in lieu of genuine thinking” and a 1994 piece about the dangers of the new Fox News Division that ended thusly: “The truth is, we’ve become Foxonian creatures, communicating in catch phrases and obscene gestures.”

I wasn’t prescient; I was reporting. Lots of people were saying the same things at the same time, and had been saying similar things for years. Choosing stupidity isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s always been an option. (Though maybe it used to be more instantly dangerous.)

Given a choice between tough reality-based information and comforting lies, most of us will take the comforting lies. If someone tells us that we’re better off not brushing our teeth and not making our beds, we’re willing to entertain their argument. We like fast food and “reality” TV and can’t bear to be bored or to be told that our loud obsession with the Harry Potter/Star Wars/Marvel Cinematic universe isn’t exactly becoming for a grown-up. What we have now in this country, in this world, is the direct result of a decades-long diet of sweet, comforting and unchallenging empty calories.

Don’t let your kids go to college, lest they be “indoctrinated” by “liberal” professors who actually believe in intellectual discipline. Don’t exercise because that does nothing but deplete the finite store of physical energy your body was granted at birth. Get your news off TV and choose the flavor tailored to flatter your particular worldview. Get your philosophy from some guy selling credit repair and commemorative gold coins on the radio. Nobody really reads those books; they just line their bookcases with them to look smart. Math is important, but you can do it on a calculator. Everything you need to know is right there, in your own gut. Expertise doesn’t matter.

We should have seen this coming. Many did, but more started to take offense at big words and the idea that anyone could possibly know more about something than they do just because they’ve devoted their lives to knowing more.

People use big words to make me feel dumb. But I’m not dumb, I’m a great American.

Vote for whoever tells you the best story, whoever makes you feel best about yourself. It doesn’t matter anyway.

Covid-19 is just a “little flu.” Or, if you want, it’s a plot by billionaires designed to undermine the support of a stable genius American hero chosen by God to root out the cabal of pedophiles that secretly runs the world.

So we deserve this. We didn’t do our homework, we binged on The Bachelor.

We chose stupidity.

[email protected]


Editorial on 05/17/2020

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TML introduces mortgages for credit impaired borrowers



TML introduces mortgages for credit impaired borrowers

The Mortgage Lender (TML) is launching a range of residential mortgages to cater for borrowers who have suffered some form of credit issue through a change in circumstance.


The Lumi-branded range is available up to 75 per cent loan to value (LTV), across four categories to support customers with defaults, county court judgements (CCJs) and mortgage arrears.

The products are available for employed, self-employed and complex income applicants.

Rates start at 4.98 per cent for a two-year fix and 5.29 per cent for a five-year fix at 70 per cent loan to value and are open for loans between £25,001 and £1m.

It also offers criteria for unsecured arrears, bankruptcy and pay day loans outside that of TML’s standard range.

The lender said it was taking a pragmatic approach to the real-world experience many clients are facing and it was providing “a stepping-stone for homemovers or those remortgaging and, in some cases, credit repair”.

TML sales and product director Steve Griffiths said: “Now more than ever lenders need to have criteria that caters for a wide range of customer circumstances and recognise that the last 12 months has been financially difficult for many people.

Doug Hall director of distributor 3mc added: “We are seeing increasing numbers of customers whose financial situation has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic who need products that are appropriate for their circumstances now.

“Through sharing our knowledge and challenges with lenders, like TML, the specialist lending sector is proving it can meet those needs in a responsible way.

“The launch of Lumi is great news for brokers and customers. It shows lenders are listening and able to respond to the market, improving customer choice and competition.”


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Landmark Point Predictive Fraud Study Details Record Year for Auto Loan Fraud in 2020




Point Predictive Inc., the San Diego-based artificial intelligence and data science company that helps lenders predict the trustworthiness of loan application information, published research detailing increased levels of attempted loan fraud in 2020, which the company believes could continue through 2021.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

US Auto Loan Fraud Reaches $7.3 Billion in 2020 (Graphic: Business Wire)

The company’s Auto Fraud Report is the auto finance industry’s most comprehensive annual assessment of application fraud risk. The 2020 edition includes unique insights about income and employment misrepresentation, identity fraud, and collateral fraud for US auto lenders, as well as the impacts of the pandemic on this important sector of the economy.

“2020 was a pivotal year for fraud risk, with auto loan fraud reaching $7.3 billion of originations,” said Frank McKenna, Chief Fraud Strategist for Point Predictive. “The pandemic heightened fear and anxiety and likely made consumers more vulnerable to scams and frauds. The ensuing economic turmoil caused an immediate and dramatic rise in unemployment, increasing some people’s willingness to engage in loan fraud. Furthermore, a flood of stimulus money and generous lender forbearance programs simultaneously increased the level of fraud while delaying lenders’ ability to recognize it.”

Many lenders have praised Point Predictive’s research due to the breadth, detail, and scope of the analysis. This year’s analysis drew from the Point Predictive anti-fraud Consortium dataset, a secure and private data science collaboration among dozens of US lenders. The Consortium now includes over 94 million loan applications containing 85 individual fields of data on each application. Every month, activity from 45,000 dealerships contributes to a view of vehicle financing that spans nearly all 157,000 US auto dealers. This data set tracks over $2.7 billion in known early payment default and the company’s machine learning techniques have generated more than 10 billion risk attributes, offering unparalleled insight into mostly hidden risk trends and the ability to predict more fraud than ever before.

“Consortium data is deeper and more predictive of risk than any credit bureau or public records source,” said McKenna. He continued, “This vast and deeply-specific data on each loan application gave us incredible clarity into fraud risk that lenders are exposed to. And one thing is for sure: the risk of fraud to auto lenders rose dramatically as the pandemic unfolded.”

One of the most significant trends addressed by the analysis was the marked uptick in income and employment misrepresentation. As the lockdowns began, Consortium members were suddenly impacted by a 100% year-over-year increase of falsified income and employment claims on auto loan applications, a level of risk which continued throughout the year. Detected among the trend was the use of over 300 new, but bogus employers each month, used by applicants to fraudulently convince lenders of steady sources of income.

Completing a complex risk picture for fraud managers, the report notes that scams like synthetic identity creation, credit washing, and even lawful impacts of credit repair efforts complicate efforts by lenders to guard against fraud in order to more quickly serve trustworthy borrowers.

“As a lender, you have to keep your guard up at all times. No assumptions can be made about any loan application until every single one clears a satisfactory fraud review,” said Steve Christensen, Executive Vice President of Elite Acceptance Corp. “The analysis and outlook from Point Predictive is essential reading in order to be prepared. For Elite Acceptance, the crucial trends to get ahead of are the dealer implications, such as a sale price inflation of over 10% on the top 10 models,” said Christensen. He concluded, “I credit Point Predictive for exposing the truth behind what is presented to lenders by dealers and borrowers.”

Additionally, the analysis of auto loan fraud in 2020 covers other concerning trends, including clusters of fraud in certain states and metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), new tactics used by self-employed borrowers, patterns of suspicious and ambiguous naming conventions for fake employers, synthetic identity centers, Social Security number manipulation tactics, vehicles subjected to inflated pricing, and the systematic disputing of multiple negative tradelines on a credit report in order to make the borrower appear to be more creditworthy. Power booking is also on the rise, wherein dealers inflate sale prices and falsify down payments to increase the chances of loan approval.

The Auto Fraud Report concludes with recommendations from Point Predictive’s fraud experts for staying ahead of fraud in 2021. Tim Grace, Chairman and CEO of Point Predictive, encourages lenders to bolster fraud defenses and staff. “In times of crisis, there is often a need to reduce costs to stay profitable amidst decreasing volumes. But this is a mistake. The rate of fraud and risk will increase over the next 18 months, making fraud prevention and staffing one of the most important investments you can make in maintaining the health of your portfolio. Resist the urge to cut costs where it matters most.”

Auto, mortgage, and student lenders who are interested in receiving a copy of Point Predictive’s 2020 Annual Auto Fraud Report should contact [email protected].

About Point Predictive Inc.

Point Predictive enables lenders to fund more loans simply with a unique combination of Artificial and Natural Intelligence™ (Ai+Ni™) to power machine learning technology solutions. Point Predictive helps automotive, mortgage, retail and personal loan finance companies to identify the consumer applications with truthful and reliable information without the intense interrogation and verification of data caused by lower tech solutions currently in use. Highly regarded as the most trusted fraud and misrepresentation analytic solution providers, Point Predictive has transformed that trust to enable lenders to fund more loans to more consumers simply. Point Predictive uses big data powerfully orchestrated from millions of examples of true and falsified loan applications, billions of derived proprietary data elements, and scientifically selected third-party data sources to build powerful machine learning models with the added natural intelligence of human experience.

Located in San Diego, California, more information about Point Predictive can be found at

View source version on

CONTACT: Dennis Behrman

VP of Marketing & Growth, Point Predictive


[email protected]



SOURCE: Point Predictive Inc.

Copyright Business Wire 2021.

PUB: 04/15/2021 10:57 AM/DISC: 04/15/2021 10:57 AM

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TML announce launch of new residential Lumi products



Steve Griffiths TML

A new, Lumi-branded, residential product has been launched by The Mortgage Lender, following a rise in demand from borrowers who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

TML say that the range is available up to 75% loan to value, across four Lumi categories and caters for customers with defaults, CCJs, and mortgage arrears. It also offers enhanced credit criteria for unsecured arrears, bankruptcy and payday loans when compared to TML’s core range.

Lumi products are available for employed, self-employed and complex income applicants. The minimum loan is £25,001 and the maximum loan is £1m with rates starting at 4.98% for a two-year fix and 5.29% for a five-year fix at 70% loan to value.

Steve Griffiths, The Mortgage Lender sales and product director, said: “Now more than ever lenders need to have criteria that caters for a wide range of customer circumstances and recognise that the last 12 months has been financially difficult for many people.

“Our Lumi range, which is available through specialist distributors, takes a pragmatic approach to the real-world experience many of our broker partners are presented with when they are sourcing a mortgage for their clients.

“It offers fair rates combined with a flexible approach to underwriting that provides a stepping-stone for home-movers or those remortgaging and, in some cases, credit repair.”

Doug Hall, 3mc director, adds: “We are seeing increasing numbers of customers whose financial situation has been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic who need products that are appropriate for their circumstances now.

“Through sharing our knowledge and challenges with lenders, like TML, the specialist lending sector is proving it can meet those needs in a responsible way. The launch of Lumi is great news for brokers and customers. It shows lenders are listening and able to respond to the market, improving customer choice and competition.”

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