Hiding in Plain Sight: The Fine Art and Subtle Science of Dissembling
There’s no better lie than no lie at all.
The spread of an untruth is always linked back to someone. It may not be the original perpetrator, but nonetheless someone who will be assigned blame. Lying to someone forces—for lack of a better word—a perspective on them. It may attempt to take the place of an already held notion, or lodge itself in the mind as an apparently authoritative hypothesis.
When it breaks down, when the lie is found or uncovered, what people will remember—well before they recall who introduced the untruth—is that it is, in fact, alien. The idea came from outside. People will quickly absolve themselves of blame for having an incorrect notion, because they will know it was not theirs to begin with.
This is where the the art of dissembling shines. I often call it “lying with the truth”. Often you hear it from the mouths of politicians and pundits. Because it is effective. Instead of lying, one tells the truth. Part of the truth, or the truth presented in a well-crafted manner. There is never an untruth uttered, only implied.
One assumes that the power of dissembling derives solely from the fact that its users don’t get caught in lies. They’ve never actually lied, only misled. However, this is only secondary. Not even worth mentioning in the same breath as the real virtue of dissembling: personalization.
Where an untruth uttered is discovered as alien, an untruth implied never is. If I tell you only the truth, and you work out the conclusion I am aiming at for you on your own, it becomes yours. As if the inaccurate knowledge you’ve gained sits in your brain in a place of honour much like knowledge you’ve attained through study. Nobody is imposing an idea on you that you must assimilate, the lie is created in your mind as connections are made.
This is not to say that a person is unable to discover the lie. Based on evidence to the contrary, any person is capable of exposing a misconception. The difference with lies via dissembling is that they are formed with an emotional component. No matter how small, the idea is coupled with some degree of a feeling of accomplishment. Beliefs connected to emotion are much harder to uproot with rationality. Even if you can go as far as to identify who planted the incorrect information, you will often find that you are as angry with yourself as you are with the liar. In some sense, you recognize that you, yourself, are the liar. How much blame can you assign to someone who has only spoken truths to you? Subconsciously, you realize that you did not perform your due diligence in confirming the veracity of your conclusion. After all, it would have only taken the right question for the lie to be uncovered before it was internalized.
To dissemble is to hide in plain sight. One who wields it can spread misinformation and come out shining.
Still, dissembling is lying. Worse, it is manipulation. A lie is a lie even if you don’t tell it.
94 Notes/ Hide
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