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How To Lie

This technique is based on the idea that our brain is a pattern recognition machine. When presented with something unknown or obscure, our brain will try to fit whatever fits best, this is to say to "recognize" that unknown and make it known. Our brain works in this way because it is part of our survival instinct. In a dangerous situation humans need to be able to make decisions quickly. But in order to do so, humans need to have something to work with. Our brain provides us with this "something".

Imagine the following. You are walking alone at night on a very dark street in a neighbourhood which has a high crime rate. You hear something. What to do? What to do? Well… your brain to the rescue! Working overtime your brain quickly determines that those are footsteps, heavy footsteps which are approaching rapidly to you. What do you do? You ran!

The decision to run was made because your brain identified the noise as a possible threat. Now, what would have happened if the footsteps would have belonged to a child? Would you have run? Probably not. See the difference?

What your brain identifies makes all the difference in the world and this can be manipulated because your brain will always fall back to what it knows and understands. That's precisely the point.

How does this technique work? Like this:

- Analyze your opponent's argument.

- Find something you want to do but the argument prevents that.

- Re-define that action so that it may seem something different by seemingly changing its meaning.

This technique is also called "contract law" or "read the fine print" and the real masters are lawyers as it requires thorough command of semantics because this is the exact opposite of straight talk.


Politicians typically use "euphemisms" to refer to ugly things such as "enhanced interrogation" for torture or "combat terrorism" for cold blooded murder.

Going back to our two politicians, let's imagine:

Larry: it would be inappropriate to accept gifts from third parties while we are in public office.

Moe: I see. I most certainly agree with that statement. However, acting in our capacity as public officers we must be able to entertain the notion of being recipients of tokens of good will from dignitaries and captains of industry who operate on a personal basis and will take offense if we do not. We must do so for the good of our constituency.

Now allow us to ask, WTF is the difference between what Larry said and what Moe said?

Well, it is clear that Larry does not want politicians to be bribed. Moe on the other hand, he is more than happy to be bribed. On what basis does Moe defends the notion that he is not being bribed? Well, technically speaking, to receive a gift when acting as a public officer is different from receiving it when acting as plain citizen. However, in Larry's case Moe gets nothing while in the other Moe gets to keep the gift!

How is this possible? Because our brain associates Larry's statement with the idea of politicians physically receiving a gift. On the other hand, our brain associates Moe's idea with some sort of bureaucratic employee performing a duty in a neutral manner. Yes, our brain at work.

There is an old expression among practitioners of the legal arts. When a lawyer wins a trial by fluke or coincidence, they never, ever, go around "exciting the law". What this means essentially is "shut up and be quiet" because you don't want the judge to look closely at your arguments!

The point is that typically politicians will use and target specific words for which we are pre-programmed to respond. Health, education, retirement, benefits, and so on. Once our brain recognizes those target ideas, it latches to them and it becomes satisfied, typically not bothering analyzing the full context and/or meaning. For example:

Moe: we will work tirelessly to enhance education levels throughout the community in order to enable a bright future for your children. Our new appropriation bill will move forward cautiously but without delay in order to secure the necessary funds to achieve this communal goal.

Translation? Taxes are going up.

Who would be against "enhanced education" for "our children". Who would be against "appropriating" means to get better schools? Wait… what? Appropriate? Appropriate from whom?

Well… our brain links the word "appropriate" with the word "them". This means that "them" and not "us" will pay the bill. We get "free" stuff! What is not to like?

Problem is, they are talking about "appropriating" money from us! For them, "they" are "us". See the difference? See what we mean?

Same Words

There are many ways in which this method of lying or fallacy can be used. For example with homonyms, homophones and homographs, but typically they are not used in this fashion because these approaches are too crude. Imagine this:

Larry: no worries my good voter, I'll make sure you receive a crane.

It is very doubtful that a voter would take happily the "promise" to deliver a crane (mechanical) to fix a leaky roof when a crane (animal) is delivered in a cage.

Double Interpretation

This happens when a sentence is built in such a manner that can support two interpretations. For example:

Moe: I have never taken a bribe in my office!

So, Moe never took a bribe when he held a political "office" or Moe never took a bribe while he was physically in his office (but may have and probably did do so while he was somewhere else)?


This technique is often used by advertisers but also by politicians. It is based on the same mental process described above. Our brain fixates on what it has recognized and ignores the rest. This is typically achieved by emphasizing the incorrect meaning (i.e. fallacy) which is being delivered. For example:

Larry: I would like to congratulate my opponent Moe because "Mister Major arrived at his office on time today".

Which is technically correct; Moe did arrive at his office on time, but the emphasis suggests that this event was a fluke and that Moe routinely arrives late.


Is there a proper use for this technique? Only if you are in the show business and you want to entertain your audience. Anywhere else is a deliberate fallacy, a deliberate attempt at deceiving you.


How do we detect these methods?

The core of the Bullshit Test in this case is to recognize that there are two possible meanings. Either one word or one idea can be interpreted differently leading to two vastly different conclusions or actions.

How do we proceed then? Simple. We recognize that we are in the presence of scammers and proceed to demand a clarification. And we don't stop until the meaning is absolutely crystal clear. At that point only two things may happen; either politicians embarrass themselves or they refuse to clarify and they embarrass themselves. See how it works?

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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