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.
By general consensus on such respected forums as Conservapedia, deceit may be understood as the promotion of any rationally-based argument that conflicts with the webmaster's opinions. Thus, the most effective weapon against deceit is the use of techniques that divert an opponent's attention away from the facts in a well-intentioned attempt to squeeze in subjective arguments favorable to the webmaster's own political agenda. The correlation between deceit and liberalism is always at least 95%.
Deceit in RationalWiki
RationalWiki is run by leftists that do not believe deceit is wrong. Thus, if they all combine to edit articles reflecting their lying point of view, and block anyone that insists otherwise, they get away with it.
Conservapedia and deceit
“”"Conservatives teach that deceit is wrong. Liberals do not teach that deceit is wrong.
This is one of Andy Schlafly's favorite contentions. He has gone to great lengths to preserve this argument against outside influence, going so far as to frequently re-define the meaning of "deceit" to avoid any creationist or conservative from being labeled as deceitful.
Forms of deceit
Deceit can take many forms.
Deceit by omission
This is when something that might have been expected to be included with information provided is not. One reason courts expect us to testify to the "whole truth" is to prevent us from deceit by omission.Example:
- Betty: "Where did my boyfriend go?"
- Jim: "Outside for some air"
- Jim knows Betty's boyfriend is outside trying to talk the panties off Betty's best friend, but leaves that information out. He is deceiving by omission to "protect" his buddy.
no no no
Deceit by misrepresentation
This is very common in advertising, whether subtle or blatant.
A car ad in which the owner is depicted in beautiful "getaway" surroundings, being fawned over by a beautiful sex object.
"These pills have been clinically proven to increase your hair growth/penis size/weight loss."
- oversimplification: Understating the complexity of a critical point in someone's argument in order to make something seem self-evident. Often accompanied by abuse of Occam's razor.
Deceit by "forgetfulness"
A favorite when testifying before Congressional committees.
- "Mr. Gonzalez, what is your name?"
- "Um, sir, I don't recall ever being at a meeting where that subject came up"
Deceit via "plausible deniability"
This is when a person, typically a high level executive, tries to make sure there is no trail of evidence that can prove that they actually knew what actions their subordinates were taking, in spite of the probable fact that they did approve of them. Ronald Reagan was a master of this technique; Holocaust deniers often use a form of it to get Hitler off the hook for a mass murder they claim never happened in the first place (see also One single proof).
Deceit by misdirection
- "Whose truth?" One way to deceive is to use misdirection to distract someone from the facts at hand. One way of doing this is to question the nature of truth itself.
- Change of topic: Directing someone's attention to another issue is another form of deceit. Sometimes referred to as the "Look, a bear!" tactic.
Deceit by censorship
Saying something, then silencing all dissenting viewpoints to create the illusion that there is no disagreement. Popular with talk radio, magazines' letters columns, and Conservapedia.
Deceit by misquotation
In this form, an argument is presented using what appears to be a quote from an authority or involved party, which is not complete, or taken out of context. See quote mining for examples.
Deceit through statistics
Mark Twain wrote, there are "Lies, damned lies, and statistics".
Statistics can be misinterpreted, incomplete, or inconclusive, and yet they carry the rhetorical weight of "hard numbers". For examples see Schlafly Statistics.
Deceit by obfuscation
That's a completely separate article in and of itself.
Deceit by revisionism
This is when supporting evidence that did not exist is created, by "revising" history to reflect what is argued by its supporters. An example is the rejection of same-sex marriage by individuals who insist that the "one woman and one man" marriage was the most common form of marriage throughout history, despite the anthropological evidence showing that it was actually polygamy.
This can also entail making a straw man version of an opponent's view, which is easily defeated.
Deceit by propaganda
In this form, a person uses media typically used for entertainment. By cloaking their rhetoric in the guise of entertainment, the audience is unlikely to actually give the material the critical analysis that it deserves. A good example is the pilot episode of Eli Stone where the main character takes the case of a mother of an autistic child suing a company for using a mercury-based preservative in their vaccinations. Completely ignoring the real world, the show created a greedy corporation that refused to remove the mercury-based preservatives from their vaccines, despite having internal investigations that showed a (fictional) risk of autism due to their preservative. So convincing was that fictional data that the CEO of the company refused to inoculate his own child with one of their company's vaccines.
This technique is fairly typical of other faith-based TV programming as well, where right-wing rhetoric is reaffirmed to audiences, who are already watching because the story has a "Christian" theme. This is sometimes known as the "wave shiny things at them" tactic.
Deceit in the Bible
Perhaps one of the best examples of deceit is this example, found in the book of Genesis in the Bible. In these verses, Isaac, one of the primary patriarchs of the Israelites (as well as of the Jews, Muslims, and Christians), instructs his first-born son, Esau, to prepare some food so that Esau may then receive the blessing of the first-born. Esau leaves to hunt and Rebekah, Isaac's wife who overheard the charge given to Esau, prepares food for Jacob (Esau's twin, born second of the two and another primary patriarch in Judeo-Christian tradition), dresses him in goatskin (since Jacob is smooth-skinned and Esau is hairy), and sends him before Isaac to deceitfully receive the blessing of the first-born in Esau's place. Isaac is old and has gone blind, but is convinced by the food and by the hairiness of Jacob's goatskin disguise and gives Jacob the blessing of the first-born. Esau returns and Isaac eventually learns of the deceit, but the blessing cannot be undone--Esau, the rightful first-born receives a minor blessing and a legacy of scorn and Jacob, whose name is later changed to Israel, goes on to become the father of the 12 tribes of Israel and ancestor of Jesus Christ.