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...the author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself.
—Peter Medawar

Deceit is the misrepresentation of the truth. Deceit can be used for many purposes, some more innocent, some more destructive. Lying, or explicit misrepresentation, is a subset of deceit. Some forms of deceit may be unintentional or the result of a logical fallacy, and don't necessarily mean the speaker intents to deceive (also see Hanlon's razor):


[edit] Common examples

Deceit can take many forms:

  • Lie - The most basic form of deceit, where some sort information is divulged where it is known that is information is in fact not true.
  • Affinity fraud - abuse of the trust of others because you are (or pretend to be) a member of the same socio-economic, religious or ethnic group.
  • Censorship - silence all dissenting viewpoints.
  • Misdirection - distract someone's attention from the issue at hand.
  • Misquotation - presenting a quote, but without context or a different context so it means something else than was originally intended.
  • Obfuscation - nonsensical claptrap, or words without any particular connection to reality.
  • Omission - misrepresenting the truth by leaving out something.
  • Plausible deniability - make sure there is no plausible trail of evidence
  • One single proof - claiming that without a specific key proof, the whole argument is invalid.
  • Propaganda - affect or control the perceptions and behaviour of a population.
  • Revisionism - revise history to something it wasn't.
  • Self-deception - metaphorically (or literally...) sticking your fingers in your ears and going "Lalalala! I can't hear you!".
  • Statistics - sometimes statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts - for support rather than illumination.

[edit] Deceit in the Bible

Perhaps the best known example can be found in Genesis chapter 27. Isaac is dying, and wants to bless his first born son Esau but needs some munchies first (it would be silly to bless someone on an empty stomach), but Esau's twin brother Jacob overhears, gives Isaac his needed munchies, and receives the blessing instead. Jacob is later renamed to Israel by God (Genesis 32:28) and goes on to become the father of the 12 tribes of Israel and ancestor of Jesus Christ.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

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