Monday, September 10, 2007

Basic principles 03 - Deception

DECEPTION: Something that deceives or is intended to deceive; fraud; artifice. [via]

"Do not allow yourselves to be deceived: Great Minds are Skeptical.... There is nothing more necessary than truth, and in comparison with it everything else has only secondary value."
-- Nietzsche

"We like to be deceived." -- Blaise Pascal


Deception is common and widespread in nature:
- Species of all types use deception.
- Many types of deception are employed in nature (camouflage, concealment, diversion, conditioning / expolit, mimicry.)
- Every environment supports deception in at least one inhabitant of its ecosystem, and usually by many.
- Deception is used by both predators (offensively) and prey (defensively).
- A single species can used deception in both ways.
- Even minor applications of deception can confer selective advantage.
- Deception is more effective in some environments than others. [via]

Deception is common and widespread in the human species:
[T]he work by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Virginia, confirms Nietzche's assertion that the lie is a condition of life. In a 1996 study, DePaulo and her colleagues had 147 people between the ages of 18 and 71 keep a diary of all the falsehoods they told over the course of a week. Most people, she found, lie once or twice a day —- almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth. Both men and women lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes; over the course of a week they deceive about 30 percent of those with whom they interact one-on-one. Furthermore, some types of relationships, such as those between parents and teens, are virtual magnets for deception: "College students lie to their mothers in one out of two conversations," reports DePaulo. (Incidentally, when researchers refer to lying, they don't include the mindless pleasantries or polite equivocations we offer each other in passing, such as "I'm fine, thanks" or "No trouble at all." An "official" lie actually misleads, deliberately conveying a false impression. So complimenting a friend's awful haircut or telling a creditor that the check is in the mail both qualify.)


In his book
Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit (American Psychiatric Press, Inc.), psychiatrist Charles Ford, M.D., adds depressed people to that list. He suggests that individuals in the throes of depression seldom deceive others —- or are deceived themselves —- because they seem to perceive and describe reality with greater accuracy than others. Several studies show that depressed people delude themselves far less than their nondepressed peers about the amount of control they have over situations, and also about the effect they have on other people. Researchers such as UCLA psychologist Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., have even cited such findings as evidence that a certain amount of self-delusion —- basically, lying to yourself —- is essential to good mental health. (Many playwrights, including Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill, seem to share the same view about truth-telling. In Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh, for example, lies are life sustaining: The heroes become tragic figures when their lies are stripped away....) [via]

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