Thursday, September 15, 2011


The cleverest liars tell the truth--they just tell it in such as way as to get listeners to believe the lie they want you to believe.

This gives them "plausible deniability."

They do it by
1. removing context--omitting other truths--facts, reason--that would lead listeners to a different conclusion
2. trying to trigger powerful tribal fears and anger that lead listeners to an embattled "circle the wagons" mentality
3. exploiting people's inability to understand statistics (also known as innumeracy)

Examples are innumerable. A good way to find them is by going to or and see where the liar didn't so much lie as pull the shenanigans I've described here.

You can't stop with simply checking the factuality of what is said. That the bottom line. You also have to make sure that the facts being cited are true in context, and aren't coupled with emotionally compelling narratives that lead listeners down the rabbit hole.

"Context disambiguates."

Perfect example this week. FOX TV saturated its coverage this week with a clip of President Obama saying "If you love me, pass this bill."

Well. What an egomaniac, huh?

Only problem is all those Fox viewers didn't get the context: Obama was giving an unscripted answer to someone in the town hall audience he was addressing, who shouted out "I love you!"

See? Without context: egomaniac; with context: clever off-the-cuff answer.

It's all about context. And the fact that clever propagandists don't hesistate to lie with the truth.

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