An interesting thing about deception is those deceived don’t know it.
The deception problem is – when we are deceived we don’t know that we are deceived. Instead, we think we really know the truth.
Deception is a reality and therefore a fascinating paradox.
The greatest source of deception is not false prophets, as believed by most church people. The greatest source of deception is our own mind, as we fall for the lie that we have it all worked out, that we have become the ultimate authorities to pass judgment on everyone else. When we do that, we blot God out of the equation… even though everything we say may be based on stuff that we actually learned from God, prior to our inflated feelings of enlightenment.
That’s how easy it is to be deceived, and it happens to people everywhere, every day, as they fall away from childlike faith in God to deceptions about their own ability to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Delusions about their own righteousness literally drive some people crazy.
Even those who are not generally recognized as being crazy are still suffering from the same disease that the most rabid raving lunatic suffers from. They just have it in smaller doses. It is a delusion about their own righteousness.
Deception is the act of convincing others to believe information that is not true or is partially true. This involves concepts such as propaganda, distraction and concealment.
n many cases it is difficult to distinguish deception from providing unintentionally wrong information. One of the reasons for this is that a person or an entire organization may be self-deceived.
Self deception is the deceiving of oneself as to one’s true feelings, motives, circumstances, etc.
The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad.
The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies, but would be ashamed to tell big lies. Adolf Hitler
Definition of Deception
de·ceive (dĭ-sēv’) v., -ceived, -ceiv·ing, -ceives.
To cause to believe what is not true; mislead.
Archaic. To catch by guile; ensnare.
To practice deceit.
To give a false impression: appearances can deceive.
Middle English deceiven, from Old French deceveir, from Vulgar Latin *dēcipēre, from Latin dēcipere, to ensnare, deceive : dē-, de- + capere, to seize.
Synonyms of Deception: deceive, betray, mislead, beguile, delude, dupe, hoodwink, bamboozle, double-cross.
These verbs mean to lead another into error, danger, or a disadvantageous position by underhand means.
- Deceive involves the deliberate misrepresentation of the truth: “We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know, because they have never deceived us” ~ Samuel Johnson .
- Betray implies treachery: “When you betray somebody else, you also betray yourself” ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer.
- Mislead means to lead in the wrong direction or into error of thought or action: “My manhood, long misled by wandering fires, followed false lights” John Dryden
- Beguile suggests deceiving by means of charm or allure: They beguiled unwary investors with tales of overnight fortunes.
- Delude is to mislead the mind or judgment. The government deluded the public about the dangers of low-level radiation.
- Dupe implies playing upon another’s susceptibilities or naiveté: The shoppers were duped by false advertising.
- Hoodwink refers to deluding by trickery: It is difficult to hoodwink a smart lawyer.
- Bamboozle means to delude by the use of such tactics as hoaxing or artful persuasion: “Perhaps if I wanted to be understood or to understand I would bamboozle myself into belief, but I am a reporter” Graham Greene
- Double-cross implies the betrayal of a confidence or the willful breaking of a pledge: The thief double-crossed his accomplice.
Although the use of fraud in any action is detestable, yet in the combat of war it is praiseworthy and glorious. And a man who uses fraud to overcome his enemy is praised, just as much as he who overcomes his enemy by force. ~ Machiavelli 1531
Joseph W. Caddell discusses five types of deception ( misinformation ) in his December 2004 monograph Deception 101 – Primer on deception:
- Strategic Deception: Deception which disguises your basic objectives, intentions, strategies, and capabilities.
- Operational Deception: Deception which confuses or diverts an adversary in regard to a specific operation or action you are preparing to conduct.
- Tactical Deception: Deception which misleads others while they are actively involved in competition with you, your interests, or your forces.
- “A” Type Deception: “Ambiguity Deception” geared toward creating general confusion.
- “M” Type Deception: “Misleading Deception” designed to mislead an adversary into a specific and preconceived direction.
From Deception to Great Deception then The End
Deception has been a problem for man since the serpent first deceived Eve in the garden.
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13).
As we read Scripture we find that deception has continued to plague mankind from the beginning. Scripture reveals that deception always works in harmony with man’s desire for unrighteousness. Man loved unrighteousness and so was deceived.
Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips. The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright (Proverbs 14:7-9).
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors (Hosea 10:12-13)
Man is prone to being deceived because he loves sin. The people deceived are those whose names are not written in the Book of Life and they will be many. The only people who are not deceived are those who trusted in the Lord with all their heart.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
Jesus, when responding to the disciples question about His Second Coming and the End of the Age, warned them repeatedly about deception. He indicated that deception would be a serious problem in the last days and that many people would fall. So great would be the deception that He warned us about it ahead of time. Lets see what Jesus says.
For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ, ‘ and will deceive many. … and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people (Matthew 24:5, 11).
For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time (Matthew 24:24-25).
In Revelation, Jesus warned us about the Great Deception that is coming.
Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 13:11-14).
Paul wrote much about the return of Christ and warned us against being deceived. He provided a specific test to ensure we are not deceived about the timing of the Day of the Lord and the return of Christ. The Day of the Lord cannot come until ‘the man of lawlessness is revealed.’ Paul explains, that the ‘the man of lawlessness’ will be revealed when he goes into the temple of God and declares that he is God.
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Deception is ever present but the days are coming and have come when most people will be deceived. Deception will continue to increase until the Day of the Lord and the return of Christ. When Christ returns, however, the one responsible for the deception will then be prevented from deceiving the nations again until the 1,000 years have ended.
He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended (Revelation 20:3).
An interesting thing about deception is that those deceived don’t know it.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil (Proverbs 3:5-7).
Who are you trying to kid?
By Paul Davis
Self-deception is a common human enterprise. Our capacity for it seems no more exotic a part of our nature than our capacity to spell. We attribute the state freely to others (“you’re kidding yourself”), and come to realize we were in the state ourselves (“I was kidding myself when I said that”). However, when we step back from those confident judgments and try making sense of self-deception, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to do so.
Why is there a philosophical problem about self-deception? It lies in the apparent paradox that deceiver and deceived are the same. Deception seems logically to require that deceiver and deceived are distinct. If I deceive you, then I am deceiver and you deceived; I the doer, you the victim. The deceiver is one agent, and the deceived another. But in self-deception there are, it seems, not two agents but only one. The self-deceiver is both deceiver and deceived, both doer and victim. As deceived, he believes what is false. But since he knows the truth, he knows to be false what the deceived believes. But he is the deceived. So he believes what he knows to be false. How can this be so?
Any feasible account must recognize the quality of deception. Some accounts have failed to do this. Demos has characterized self-deception in terms of inconsistency of belief, in other words, the self-deceiver believes p and not-p simultaneously.
Here, self-deception becomes possible because the self-deceiver fails to “notice” one of the beliefs, and therefore has no opportunity to compare the two and appreciate the incompatibility. The problem with this account is that the definitive component of self-deception seems absent. Inconsistency of belief is unremarkable and does not amount to self-deception. There is no paradox. We all have inconsistent beliefs because we are not always aware of everything our beliefs entail. But we are not therefore in self-deception. This is because the purposeful element of deception is missing.
Popular explanations of self-deception posit a divided self, one part of which does the deceiving and another part of which suffers the deception. It is often thought that the knowing, deceiving part is an unconscious mental domain, which deceives a different, conscious part.
But considerable difficulties attach to this account. Where is the decision to deceive made? If at the conscious level, then it becomes difficult to see how consciousness can be deceived at all. It seems that consciousness must possess the truth, or the knowledge that attempts to deceive it are taking place (since it has issued the decision to deceive). It is therefore difficult to see how consciousness is deceived at all.
There might be a reply to this objection. It might be suggested that consciousness initially sends an instruction to the unconscious mind to later return messages devoid of the salient knowledge, and subsequently forgets having sent the instruction. This forgetting allows the subsequent, deceptive messages of the unconscious to be entertained by consciousness, providing consciousness with resistance against the uncomfortable truth, which becomes restricted to the unconscious.
But difficulties attach to this formulation too. Does consciousness remain hands-on in the workings of the unconscious, to guarantee the desired, deceptive returns? If so, it is again very difficult to make sense of the idea that consciousness is deceived. Or is it akin, instead, to consciousness “turning the key” and leaving the engine of the unconscious reliably ticking over, assured that the noise, smoke, and fumes returned will be appropriately deceptive, all the while forgetting the initial ignition? If so, then consciousness is faced with the onerous task of purposefully forgetting that the unconscious has been manipulated by it to return only desired messages.
If the decision to deceive is taken, on the other hand, at the unconscious level, then the unconscious must (1) be the repository of truth; (2) will the decision to deceive consciousness; and (3) implement the decision to deceive.
This surely introduces difficulties as big as those before. First, it would give the unconscious an enormous burden of psychological labour, leaving consciousness nothing but a passive, unwitting screen for the output of a knowing and furiously active unconscious. Second, it seems untenable to deny consciousness any active role whatever in self-deception. Self-deception is sometimes expedient only because of what first appears to consciousness. (“Intentionalists” believe that the self-deceiver acts intentionally to bring it about that she acquire a certain belief, without being motivated by a conviction of the truth of that belief. To conceive all self-deception like this might be – as we will see – simplistic, but the flavour of intentionalism shows recognition of the integral role robust awareness can play.) This requires that the policy to self-deceive is sometimes made at the conscious level, and embroils us once again in the difficulties outlined above.
Third, on what grounds could the unconscious adjudicate? How does it know what consciousness would want to have blocked? If consciousness is never aware of the relevant truths, then the unconscious has to assume the role of “psycho-paternalist”, censoring in the interests of consciousness the transmission of images from backstage. But its workings, in the imagined scenario, would seem unclear. It wouldn’t do to say that the unconscious withholds truths which it thinks would not appeal to consciousness. This is because lots of unappealing truths reach consciousness, and truths which can, moreover, be easily known before the event to be unpleasant for consciousness. Why doesn’t the unconscious withhold the lot of them? Why are some of these truths “forwarded”, accepted, and acknowledged, with no hint of self-deception, and others the object of self-deception (indeed, some of the former might be more traumatizing than many of the latter)?
It is likely that the paradigm framing much discussion of self-deception is crude and should be jettisoned. It might seem natural to imagine self-deception as one, homogeneous affair, that is essentially a matter of belief and knowledge (as above), aberrant, solitary, morally retrograde, and undergone by a thing-like ‘self’. Each of these characterisations is, however, dubious.
The self has featured in a previous issue of The Philosopher’s Magazine (see issue 12). For many modern contributors, most famously Dennett, the unity of self, and the accompanying baggage of an omniscient boss who thinks and acts from a psychical Oval Office, is a stubborn hangover from a Cartesian heritage most now claim to have rejected. Maybe the self is a much more complex, fluid, and ersatz affair than this maddeningly seductive picture allows. Perhaps it is an emergent artifice of multifarious, haphazardly connected subsystems, with no boss and no Cartesian Theatre “where it all happens”. If this, spaghetti-like notion of the self is correct, then it is too simple, also, to dichotomize the self into conscious and unconscious, far less to give executive primacy to either part (perhaps the inclination to do so is a stubborn hangover from our Freudian heritage). Perhaps the executors and beneficiaries of self-deception are sometimes subsystems of the self, whose activities are motivated, organically, by preservation of the system as a whole. If a subsystem is vital to a person’s identity, then it is liable to attempt deception of the other subsystems when threatened.
Whether these deceptive workings ever come near the brightest lights of conscious awareness will depend, again, upon the functional value of such exposure to the system as a whole.
An overlapping suggestion is that self-deception is not one singular psycho-behavioural phenomenon, reducing to issues of belief and knowledge. Self-deception is perhaps quite eclectic, and is not always easily distinguishable from germane phenomena such as compartmentalisation, repressed conflicts, submerged aggressions, false consciousness, and wishful thinking. It is arguable that its basic elements are sometimes performance and stratagem (mimetic and tactical), and not knowledge and belief (cognitive and epistemic). For instance, we purposefully deflect our gaze from features that would normally matter to us. As Oksenberg Rorty has noted, this can be the self-deception itself, as well as a means to achieving it. (Neglect of this point is perhaps one way in which intentionalists go wrong.) Such selectivity of attention can reveal the functional role of a belief or disposition: its (aforementioned) importance to the system as a whole. Similarly, we adopt behaviour designed to indicate attitudes – such as confidence, commitment, seriousness, or gaiety – that we do not possess. It might seem that whilst we know unambiguously that we don’t have such attitudes, then we are not self-deceived; and if we eventually succeed in achieving them, then we cannot be self-deceived either. However, what usually turns the latter into self-deception is that traces of the old, disowned attitude tend to remain, betrayed in, say, the sarcastic remark, the over-dramatic commitment, or the slip when angry, tired, or drunk.
Our self-deceptions regularly require social confirmation also. Our suspiciously strident declarations of intention and character are made more convincing to us in the presence of a trusty listener, who might tactfully collude in what she knows to be a fragile self-manipulative agenda. In fact, the agent of self-deception might itself be a social grouping, such as a happy-clappy religious cult.
Indeed, it might well be fair to conclude that socially induced self-deception is vital to individual sanity and social cohesion. It is natural and reasonable to be ambivalent about all that matters in most human lives, for example, work, family, and friendships (Adam sings, for instance, in As You Like It, “Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly”). The disguise and submergence of this ambivalence is required for us to play our social roles (employee, friend, parent, etc.), and to allow individual projects and interpersonal engagements to flourish. Far from being a solitary, aberrant, and morally retrograde enterprise, self-deception might sometimes be a psychologically, socially, and morally required extension of the natural operations of the imagination.
Deception compiled by Hardly Gnome 2005