Deception

Question: 

Which people throughout history depicted the art of deception best?

Gary's Answer: 

If by “depicted” you mean that you want examples, there are simply too many to list. I can only comment on the first discussion of deception in strategic history, that in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. This seems to be the basis of all future concepts of deception.

Sun Tzu’s competitive philosophy is based on the value of information. Competition is based about how others view the competitive positions of others. Mental decisions about the strength and weaknesses of positions are the basis of all future competitive actions. Therefore information about positions is the most important of all resources.

Deception is therefore a critical part of the process of making decisions because our ignorance about competitive situations always outweighs our knowledge. We act upon what we know, but we must also factor in the fact that some of what we know is wrong.

Sun Tzu analyzes deception form three different points of view:

The most important is self-deception, that is, our desire to believe certain things whether they are true or not.

The second most important is our ability to control the perceptions of others. Calling this “deception” is unnecessarily negative, but the basis approach is to magnify our strengths, minimize our weaknesses, and to misdirect others about our desires.

The third most important is to filter all information we get through the perspective that says the everyone else is trying to magnify their strengths, minimize their weaknesses, and misdirect others about their desires.

How do we cut through deceptions? The chief method is by judging others by their actions, not by their words.