Yes, it is frustrating, even positively nauseating. There you are struggling day in day out, doing your best and striving for the real breakthrough in science. Yet the real breakthrough never comes. Lack of talent, originality, or just not the right friends? Who knows? And who cares?

My advice is to call it a day — reconsider what you were hoping to achieve. You wanted a breakthrough in the field of your expertise, but think! How many are trying exactly that? It is hopeless. You ought to try something else. My advice is to try the fast and easy way — become a charlatan.

The advantages are obvious: if you do it right you have little competition, you’ll be famous in no time at all and you definitely don’t need to be a genius. Here is your comprehensive “charlatan survival kit”.

First stop and think where (preferably but not necessarily in the area of your expertise) there might be a niche for you. The niche needs to be unoccupied and it ought to have a weird yet appealing touch. Being a medical man myself, I am prone to think of medical examples. Don’t try to diagnose diseases by looking at people’s eyes, tongues, ears or hands; too many fellow charlatans are already earning a good living on these “options”. How about a new therapy? What about a cure based on consuming your dried, powdered toe nails in increasing and decreasing doses finely tuned with the moon cycle? Or what about creating a mysteriously dosed vacuum in the ear to clean out the “bad spirits” in your body’s airways and soul — anything really, but make sure that only you can perform the act of your particular innovation. At the most you might condescend to educate a few followers (for good cash, self-evidently), but do not endanger your monopoly too much.

The next important step on the road to success is to give your method an identity. A suitable name can be easily found; you can use your own name if it has a mystical undertone to it, or use one that rings subconscious bells: “Livingstone’s Life Line”, “Hannibal’s Handling”, “Mac Master’s Management”. Better still, you create a pot-pourri of fashionable words, melting them together to give an utterly meaningless but highly impressive pseudoscientific term: “Entropic Enterospectrophy”, “Bold Fusion”, “Psychoanalytic Jogging”, “Transcendental Recreation”, “Crystal Radioaesthesiology” — use your imagination, it’s unbeatable fun.

Your technique now requires a glamorous, mysterious background. Best link it up to some obscure ancient culture, Incas or Egyptians for instance. This implies “thousands of years of experience support you and your method” and “the wisdom of the forefathers must be respected”. Historical roots are an essential asset, particularly for the slightly insecure charlatan.

Whatever your method/ technique/invention/theory etc. does produce or achieve, it should be drastically out of line with the accepted thinking of the scientific establishment. Bowl them over by explaining that their so-called scientific approach is but naive reductionism and your ideas are based on a revolutionary change of paradigms. The mere attempt to scientifically test your concepts within the framework of the old (former) and now obsolete paradigm, would destroy the innovation. If this fails, you must insist that your idea only works if one believes in it.

Next comes the only really difficult challenge in becoming a first rate charlatan: you must be convincing, more than convincing, you must be a monomaniac and charismatic. This usually needs some rehearsing. Go to rhetoric lessons, join a theatrical group, spy in a lunatic asylum, but do anything to become fanatically convincing and religiously missionary.

Now you are almost there. You only need a few tricks to complement your act but you will pick these up swiftly as you go along. With a base in science, you will find it easy to distort the scientific truth. Your former colleagues will, of course, challenge you in discussions, radio interviews, talk shows, etc. By all means attend those events — they are free PR for you. When the opposition comes with its boring facts, you counter with your imaginative distortions — the public won’t be able to tell the difference and you will “win” because your concept offers more. It appeals to the need for irrationality, mysticism and unreason that is so deeply rooted in the human species.

When the going gets tough, you can always claim that you are being constantly and viciously attacked for reasons “well-known”; don’t be too precise, hint at something “ethnic” or “extra-terrestrial” or “political” or waffle about strong lobbies that conspire against you — a consortium of pharmaceutical companies or the nuclear industry would be ideal. Elaborate on your altruistic dedication in spite of threats to your and your family’s lives — you always wanted to be a hero anyway.

The rest should be clear sailing. “Successes” of your concept will now come fast and effortlessly. People will queue up to give evidence in favour of its usefulness. It would be good, though, if you had a few VIPs speaking out for you; take film stars, sports champions, pop singers. Beware of politicians! Not that they would manage to see through you, but they are not reliable enough and usually have their own monomania to follow.

My final word of advice will please your bank manager: be expensive, unscrupulously, even ridiculously expensive. People strongly believe that the more they pay, the more it’s worth. And surely you are worth a lot.

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