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How To Lie

This technique is based on the method of "guiding" the listener towards a pre-determined outcome. It is the same method that magicians use when they do card tricks where you must choose one. They, pre-determine in advance, which card you will choose. They do so by pretending to present a number of choices for you to choose from, when in reality they are stacking the deck in such a manner that you can only choose one… the one they want.

This is possible because when we are presented with convoluted ideas or are forced to make rush decisions, our brain (a universal pattern recognition system) makes a decision based on what it recognizes the strongest. Thus, whatever has the strongest appeal, we choose. The trick is to make all other options less appealing.

How does this technique work? Like this:

- Analyze your opponent's arguments and select a limited set which is easy to dismiss.

- Choose the one argument from your ideas you want chosen.

- Present the selected set and your argument in such a manner that your opponents' will be cast in a negative or suspicious light, leaving your own argument as the only viable option.

Let's take a look at a classic example:

"You are either with us or against us"

Obviously you want your listener not to side with "them" but with you. So, you present the negative "option" of being "against us" as… well… negative; at the same time, you present the option of being "with us" as an implied positive. But it is more than that. It so happens that being "with us" or "against us" paint such emotional pictures, that we completely forget any other option. That's right. This technique works by presenting a hand-picked set of solutions to the problem in a negative light, one option (the one we want) will be presented positively and, more importantly, we will be ignoring all other options. This last part is critical. We don't want people to realize that there are other, viable solutions. We want our target sucker to be boxed-in, so to speak, with only "our" solution for company.

If we go back and analyze our example, we see that in reality those are not only not the only options, but both options may be equally undesirable. There is no reason why a negotiated agreement may not be sought. There is no reason why a mediator may not be called. There is no reason why we can't modify our position. There is no reason why they may not be able to modify their position.

The question is stated in such a dualistic manner on purpose. It has been engineered to lead to only one conclusion: "you must be with us".  It has been designed to prevent you from thinking creatively and seek a middle-ground solution or to realize the trick.

Let's take a look at a different example.

"Realistically speaking we only have three choices to correct the economic inefficiencies of markets; we can allow an uncontrolled and unregulated free market, we can take the market away from people altogether or we can regulate markets cautiously for the benefit of society"

See what we mean?

Free markets, communism or socialism are not the only three choices. We can have fascism, corporativism, anarchy, and many other models. By listing up-front that there are only three choices, they are preventing the listener from seeking a different solution. Once this was done, they present two choices in negative terms and the final one positively, thus leading people to choose the latter.

This technique is used quite often by politicians because it allows them to limit the point of view of their enemies to the choices they can paint on a negative light the easiest. No surprises there.


How do we identify this technique? By thinking and seeking other options. If other option(s) are present, we will then know that somebody is trying to sell us a rotten package of goods.

Once this is done, how do we proceed? By demanding that other options be included. If the person making the argument refuses to do so, then we simply walk away.


This technique must not be confused with the valid method of enumerating most or all of the possible options and presenting arguments against them. It is OK to enumerate a shortest number of options, but clear reasons must be provided. For example, we could say that free markets, communism and socialism are the only viable choices because all the others are very seldom implemented and as such, irrelevant. Now, you may not agree with this argument, but it is a valid one and was made up-front in order to limit the choices in some manner. 

If this is the case, you must then determine first if you agree with the limitation of choices. If you do not, then you must present a counter-argument on that subject alone before proceeding to make a decision

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


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