The Subtle Art of Deception

There is a difference between deception and lies, falsehoods. Mostly people think lying and deception are the same thing but they are not.

To be fair, lying is a tool that may be sometimes used to deceive but the truth can be equally used.


When the truth is applied sparingly it can mislead and thus deceive.

For instance Carlos is a 17 year old boy who decides to go to his friend’s house, smokes weed, drinks alcohol and probably even gets naughty with some girls.

Carlos’ mum will ask where he’s going. He will respond , “I am going to Bob’s house” that’s true.

If she texts him, what he is doing, “I am having fun at Bob’s place.”

Is he? Is he having fun at Bob’s place?


That’s the truth. He would not have told a single lie.

The missing information and the vagueness of the word “fun” is what becomes deceptive. Without mention of the weed, booze and girls, the context is different to the mother.

From her perspective, fun could mean Playstation games, soccer and listening to new music. Things good kids do.

Should that extra information be introduced, the narrative changes dramatically or even shockingly.

Remember Carlos told no falsehoods here but he deliberately did not mention fundamental information which changes the whole image one would see.

If he had said, “Mum am off to Bob’s. We have weed, a bottle of two keys & some girls from School are coming over.”

That would give her a different picture from.

“Mum am off to Bob’s, we just gonna have fun with other friends from School.”

The Danger of Lying

The incomplete truth and vagueness is a better tool for deception than falsehood.

If Carlos lies that he is off to the library instead, there is more covering up on his end. He at least has to tip off the Librarian because she risks bumping into his mother one day.

Other people may testify having seen him near Bob’s place etc.

Think about when Zimbabwean politician Nelson Chamisa lied about meeting President Donald Trump.

He received a backlash when the U.S Embassy denied it and was offended.

All politicians are deceptive, but the ones who are vague and tell half truths are harder to catch than those who tell blatant lies.

What does this mean for humanity?

I guess it means it’s hard to ever know complete truths. We try our best to judge what is true or false based on the things we have more correct information about.

However any missing information we have if found may dramatically change what we think things mean to us.

This could apply to science, business, religion, relationships and health.

I guess that’s why knowledge is power. The more you know the more you know that you don’t know.

Propaganda is an art used by politicians to tell one side of the truth.

True deception is achieved when you present facts and leave out facts that connect the dots. The mind of the person being deceived then connects its own dots so that they create their own lie.

Have a great week.

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