The Stoicism Scam

Douglas C. Bates
7 min readSep 9, 2022

Exposing a Colossal Bait and Switch Trick

Dangerous things can be hidden in attractive packages.

Much of what is currently being promoted as “Stoicism” is not Stoicism in any meaningful sense of the term. It’s just self-help techniques that were widely accepted in ancient Greece. While it might seem that there’s no harm in people mistakenly thinking that by applying these self-help techniques that they are practicing Stoicism when they in fact are not, there’s actually a pernicious, hidden bait-and-switch scam going on with this.

Here’s the hard-to-see underlying structure of the scam:

1. The target of the scam is given self-help techniques that are uncontroversial and widely known to be effective.

2. These techniques are labeled as “Stoicism.”

3. As these techniques do, in fact, work, the target comes to trust the perpetrator of the scam.

4. Then the pernicious part of the scam begins. The perpetrator starts giving the target controversial, problematic, and even ridiculous ideas also labeled as “Stoicism” claiming that these will help the target of the scam just like the initial set of techniques did.

This last step of the scam is where the problems come out of hiding and start being noticed.

The scam comes in several variations. Some of them even have been given names, such as $toicism, Broicism, and stoicisM. Here’s an outline of these scams:

· $toicism distorts Stoicism to make it a philosophy for achieving wealth and fame. Here’s an example of this scam: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett All Use This Ancient Philosophy to Build Wealth, and a critique of it.

· Broicism distorts Stoicism to make it a precursor of and philosophical foundation for the men’s rights movement. This scam is discussed at length in the book Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age. Here’s a shorter critique.

· stoicisM distorts Stoicism to make it a tool for military training. The foundational source for this scam is the book Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot. Here’s a critique.

Let’s go into detail about how the machinery of this scam works.



Douglas C. Bates

Ancient Greek philosophies of life. Author of “Pyrrho’s Way: The Ancient Greek Version of Buddhism.”