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The Five Dimensions of Deception

I have created a list of methods used to deceive people. These can apply to many situations (ahem current pandemic situations and politics not excluded). If one learns to recognize these methods, one can learn to avoid being deceived and manipulated.

  1. Dismissal. People who want to control the narrative dismiss opposing arguments outright. This is not a rational, critically thought out response to opposition. A rational response would be to address the opposing arguments weaknesses, and show how your argument is more valid. But dismissive people simply say, I will not accept or listen to your argument - period.

  2. Discredit. People who are promoting their flawed ideas will often respond defensively when challenged by discrediting the opposition. For example, your argument is wrong because you are ugly, or a slut, or your argument is wrong because nobody likes you. You can see that whether or not the arguer is ugly, a slut, or nobody likes them, really has nothing to do with whether their argument has merit. When someone tries to attack your argument by discrediting you, steer them back to the merits of your argument. Force them to respond to your argument. Don't let them manipulate you into become defensive. Being defensive does nothing for your argument.

  3. Devalue. This method is similar to discrediting. This method is used by deceivers to get what they want. By applying lesser value to(dehumanizing) a weaker group, e.g. those migrants, or that racial group, or those people with pre-existing conditions, the deceiver attempts to steer their agenda against the weaker group or in their own favor. The deceiver will say, those weaker (migrants, race, sick people... fill in the blank) deserve to be mistreated or neglected, deserve to die, don't deserve our support or empathy, or we don't have to acknowledge what they have to say because the value of their needs, the value of their opinions, or even the value of their lives matters less than mine or ours (us). This method of deception is insidious, as often the victims have no one to speak for them, and/or they are a minority voice. The targets of the deception must speak out against this on behalf of the victims.

  4. Divide. Devaluation feeds division. This is easy to recognize. The deceiver attempts to divide groups into "us" and "them". They attempt to influence and rally their own group to fight or oppose the other group, often by highlighting differences. By encouraging people to not work together to solve their problems and negotiate terms for differences, the deceiver hopes to use his/her group to bully the opposition into getting what they want. Any negative consequences of these tactics are usually blamed on the opposing side, further entrenching the divisions. This is where we are today.

  5. Denial. Like dismissal, deceivers may simply deny the truth, deny the claim against them, or deny involvement in an accused activity. They use their platform and their authority to deny the truth of opposing arguments and recruit people to their side. They may use mass media to their advantage, or try to ignore the charges and move on as if nothing happened. They may divert the argument away from themselves by trying to force the opposition to prove their claims, rather than defend themselves against the charges.

There are probably many more Ds, but these are the ones I thought of while walking circles in the desert. I hope you can use this information to identify when someone is trying to control a situation and deceive others. Finding ways around these tactics is often much harder. But if you call it out when you recognize it, you may find the deceiver has prepared no response (the Emperor has no clothes).


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