Skip to main content

Subscribe to Newsletter

What is deception?

If falsehood, like truth, had only one face, we would be in better shape. For we would take as certain the opposite of what the liar said. But the reverse of truth has a hundred thousand shapes and a limitless field.—Montaigne, Essays

What is deception


There are few definitions of deception. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary it is "an act or statement intended to make people believe something that is not true" [1]. According to Ekman [2], the deception involves acting in such a way which leads another person to believe something, that you, yourself, do not believe to be true.

These definitions are broad. For example, if you think withholding information is not deception, you are mistaken. If you are acting in front of someone so, that you expect to present yourself in a certain way, you are deceiving that person. For example, if you like a girl of your friend, but you are not acting that way, you are deceiving your friend and the girl.

Ethics of deception


This bring up the question, Is deception acceptable? It certainly is. At least from the perspective of science, it is even necessary. According to Taylor & Shepperd [5], 81 percent of published psychological studies use deception. And it is only logical. If you are studying some psychological phenomenon, you could influence the result of it if you have told the participants about what are you trying to achieve. So deception becomes necessary.

Or in double blinded tests used mainly in medical research, deception is also necessary. But you cannot lie to subjects in medical experiments. It is against to law and also it is considered unethical [6]. So if you cannot lie to a subject telling them you are giving them medicament if in reality you are not, how do you do double blinded test? You deceive the subject. You tell them that they have 50 percent chance that they are receiving the true medicament and 50 percent chance that they are receiving placebo. You have not lie to them, but you have deceived them, because you have not told them the whole truth.

But is deception acceptable in social interactions? Some forms of deceptions are against the law such as frauds or tax pay evasion, so clearly not all forms of deceptions are acceptable, just as in scientific research. But it is also obvious, that deception is useful and acceptable in some social interactions. If your sick partner asks you how do they look, you are probably going to lie to them or at leas deceive them and you would not tell them how they really look to you. Great usefulness of deception is shown in the movie The Invention of Lying, which is set in a society where everybody is telling the truth all the time. If you ever tried to imagine what would such world look like, you certainly have to watch the movie or at least this video.

Invention of Lying - Ricky Gervais from Rui Batista on Vimeo.

For example, almost all the movies except from documentaries are deception. The actors are pretending to be someone they are not and they know they are not them. So they use deception, which they could not if they were not able to deceive.

Subjectivity of deception


This brings interesting question regarding Ekman [2] definition, which suggest, that if you are deceiving somebody, you have to act or say something that you, yourself, do not believe to be true. So if you personally believe that you are Henry V., would you be able in a society in which no one can lie play Henry V. in a movie? You are not deceiving anyone, because you do believe that you are the Henry V. But nobody else in such society would be able to differentiate.

The reason we consider persons that believe they are someone that they are obviously not such as historical or fictional characters as mentally ill is result of the fact, that we are able to differentiate between the reality that is and the reality someone has made up. 

If you are not able to differentiate between reality and deception, you are able to believe anything somebody tells you. So deceptions is clearly useful at least as protection from situations when someone else is trying to deceive us and to tell if somebody is deceiving us or simply has mental disorder.

You probably would not lock up in mental institution Johnny Depp for playing Jack Sparrow in a movie, but if he was going around the streets preaching that he in fact is Jack Sparrow for some time, you would quickly reconsider.

Types of deception


So we have already discussed usefulness of deception and differentiate what is deception and what is not. But as we mentioned, there is not just one form of deception.

There is a moment in the movie Insurgent where Tobias ask the leader of Candor faction, which is know for its truthfulness (I am paraphrasing)
- "I've heard you use truth serum in your initiation process"
- "We do not discus such matters with outsiders."
- "That's not an honest answer."
- "Evasion of question is not the same as lying."
And that is the truth. But lying is not the same as deception. Lying is a part of what deception means. It is the most know and recognizable part, but it is not all. Few examples could be [7]

  • Lies: making up information or giving information that is the opposite or very different from the truth.
  • Equivocations: making an indirect, ambiguous, or contradictory statement.
  • Concealments: omitting information that is important or relevant to the given context, or engaging in behavior that helps hide relevant information.
  • Exaggerations: overstatement or stretching the truth to a degree.
  • Understatements: minimization or downplaying aspects of the truth.
but the categorization could be based on many different factors considering circumstances. For example considering on-line interactions "there are various types of possible deception such as category deception (gender switching), attractiveness deception, or identity concealment" [8].

Conclusion


Deception requires the person that is deceiving to have contradictory knowledge about his actions or statements, so someone who is telling obvious lies but believes them to be true is in fact not deceiving us. Also, lies are not the only form of deception and deception is any form of "not truth telling" including withholding information. Also deception is useful in scientific research and in some social interactions, but also unacceptable and punished in some cases. Knowledge of deception is also useful tool for its recognition.

So live happily and be truthful to yourself.

References


[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deception

[2] Ekman, P. (1985). Telling lies. New York : W. W. Norton.

[3] http://www.truthaboutdeception.com/lying-and-deception/ways-people-lie/what-is-deception.html

[4] Ortmann, Andreas, and Ralph Hertwig. "Is deception acceptable?." (1997): 746.

[5] Taylor, Kevin M., and James A. Shepperd. "Probing suspicion among participants in deception research." American Psychologist 51.8 (1996): 886.

[6] Wendler, Dave. "Deception in medical and behavioral research: is it ever acceptable?." The Milbank Quarterly (1996): 87-114.

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deception

[8] Utz, Sonja. "Types of deception and underlying motivation what people think." Social Science Computer Review 23.1 (2005): 49-56.

Comments

Subscribe to Newsletter

Popular posts from this blog

ProLinks #57 - Truth, Wayland and Sex Tapes

Tech Let's talk about Wayland ... This is the fundamental principle of every single product (including security products). If you cannot use a thing, because its "safety" or "security" mechanisms prevents the core functionality from being utilized in the intended fashion, the product is useless. For example, a Web browser without an Internet connection is possibly very secure from Internet exploits - but it also doesn't do its main function - let people browse the Internet Speed is the killer feature When you touched a Razr or a Palm phone, there was a delay. It felt sluggish and slow. Apple removed the delay between your finger tapping the screen and something happening. Your finger could finally manipulate the UI in realtime, just like in the real world. It felt magical. If there was even a slight delay, the whole experience fell apart. Everything is broken, and it’s okay Every car you’ve ever ridden in, every elevator you’ve ever taken, every s

Learning sources for IT Consultant

I went into IT consulting. And as with everything that I start anew, I have tried to find some good learning materials and sources to get me started. But it got really difficult really quickly. As I found out, there are not many materials and sources focused specifically on this topic. This got me thinking. How is this possible? There are tons of materials for business consulting, so how come there are almost non for IT? So I thought about it. And than it hit me. There are lots of materials for IT consultant. They are just not named as such.  First of all, IT consultancy is pretty broad topic so it depends on what are you consulting. Is it software development? Is it security? Is it biometrics systems? Based on the topic you are consulting you can find needed domain knowledge. You can be brilliant programmer, but if you have no idea about given domain, you will be no help to your client. Secondly, consultancy is the same when it comes to soft skills regardless if you a

ProLinks #59 - Terrible men, Facebook and SOCOM

Tech You’re Doing It Wrong: Notes on Criticism and Technology Hype What is less obvious is why Shoshana Zuboff, an emerita professor of Harvard Business School, so uncritically repeats the digital industry’s marketing materials, nor why she never points to or assesses evidence that goes against her argument. Yet her writings are full of hyperbole that sounds like she took press releases from Facebook’s and Google’s PR departments and rewrote them to be alarming, How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation Zuckerberg’s obsession with getting the whole world to use Facebook had found a powerful new weapon. Teams had previously used design tactics, like experimenting with the content and frequency of notifications, to try to hook users more effectively. Their goal, among other things, was to increase a metric called L6/7, the fraction of people who logged in to Facebook six of the previous seven days. L6/7 is just one of myriad ways in which Facebook has measured “e

ProLinks #58 - Evangelicals, Screen time and BASE Jumping

Tech The technical interview practice gap, and how it keeps underrepresented groups out of software engineering MIT gave me was a big stamp on my forehead that, to this day, makes strangers think I’m smart. But there was another, more relevant gift that gave me a serious advantage over students who did not attend an elite computer science institution: boundless access to technical interview practice. Not only was there a multi-week course during the month-long break between Fall and Spring semesters that was dedicated exclusively to passing technical interviews, but all of my peers were going through exactly the same thing at the same time Clone Wars - Open source clones of popular sites 70+ open-source clones of popular sites like Airbnb, Amazon, Instagram, Netflix, Tiktok, Spotify, Trello, Whatsapp, Youtube, etc. List contains source code, demo links, tech stack, and, GitHub stars count. Great for learning purpose!  “Well, it seems great to me” But if your music, your graphic

ProLinks #65 - North Korea, Cryptocurrencies, Propaganda and more

Tech The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army He was right. As the newspapers soon reported, more than sixteen million dollars was withdrawn from roughly seventeen hundred 7-Eleven A.T.M.s across Japan that morning, using data stolen from South Africa’s Standard Bank. The newspapers surmised that 7-Elevens had been targeted because they were the only convenience stores in Japan whose cash terminals all accepted foreign cards. Soon after the raids, the withdrawal limit for many A.T.M.s in the country was reduced to fifty thousand yen Why Cryptocurrency Is A Giant Fraud ❧ Current Affairs Schweikert is partly right: “selling it as a revolution” is a hugely important part of why cryptocurrency is succeeding. But as is generally the case when someone is trying to sell you something, the whole thing should seem extremely fishy. In fact, much of the cryptocurrency pitch is worse than fishy. It’s downright fraudulent, promising people benefits that they will not get and trying