Deception

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact: Arthur Conan Doyle

Imagine a party hall, a birthday party in progress. Children screeching and screaming, running helter-skelter. Snacks forgotten. Sound levels reach a high point. And suddenly, with one announcement, all children settle down. Total hush descends on the audience; & from the wings comes, dancing, THE MAGICIAN!!!

From his hat comes out a seemingly unending handkerchief. Hat is put back on the head. Lo and behold!! when he takes it off with a flourish, out fly 2 pigeons. And even as the children are agog, many more magic tricks with balls, bells and fire regale the audience. Why only children, we all love to watch David Copperfield carve a woman into two! We know it is all false, but we are totally taken in by the deceptions mounted live or on TV.. This fascination has been the same from Houdini’s days till now! Charming deceptions…. Gullible lies…. Enjoyable subterfuges.

Yet deception is always not welcomed. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we first begin to deceive!!” Walter Scott admonished in Marmion ages ago. But, if you look around, we do not seem to have got the message yet!! Deceptions continue unabated. Truth and propriety are out of fashion. Possibly the last bastion of only Philosophers & Theorists. Under the guise of practicality and expediency, you see corners being cut, reality being twisted & turned and deception becoming the norm of our mutual dealings. What prompts deception? why do we travel this self-defeating path?? Really worth thinking about!!

Webster defines Deception as “the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid,  the act of deceiving”. Deception refers to the act—big or small, cruel or kind—of encouraging people to believe information, that is not true!! Magic shows are the most charming creation of alternate reality. So are movies… Bollywood or Hollywood. We happily get into the magic world of cinema and make believe & even after the movie is over, we find it difficult to shake our heads out of the make believe world, we were a part of in the darkened cinema halls.

But deception always is not so innocuous. Lying is a common form of deception—stating something you know to be untrue, with the intent to deceive. While most people are generally honest, even those who subscribe to honesty engage in deception sometimes. Studies show that the average person lies several times a day. Some of those lies are big (“I have never cheated on you!” ” I never lie”) but more often, they are little white lies (“That dress looks fine” ” You look slimmer after the diet program”) used to avoid uncomfortable situations or spare someone’s feelings. Every reader can look within and confess: breathes there a man, or woman, who has never lied?

According to one count the English language has 112 words for deception: Trickery, fraud, deceit, hypocrisy, cunning, treachery, guile, duplicity, insincerity, legerdemain, dissimulation, craftiness, fraudulence, lie, cheat, bluff, sham, snare, hoax, decoy, ruse, artifice, subterfuge, canard, feint, wile, hokum, leg-pull, imposture, snow job or even porky. Language reflects social mores and norms: so what does that statistic tell us about how often we practice or come face-to-face with deceit? Good? Bad?? Ugly??? or is it just our social reality?

Admittedly, trust is the bedrock of all social life. Whether it is a 1-on-1 interaction of a Mother & Child, or 2 lovers romancing one another, trust is a sine qua non of social interaction. Even Organizations and Governments are built of trust and mutual belief. In any of these micro or macro relations, deception is frowned upon. Deception undermines Trust. This is fundamental. And since a shared view of reality, is essential to all human enterprise, Truth prevails. Still, at the macro level, look at the statistics WHO publishes about Prevalence of COVID19 across geographies; or the statistics on Education or Employment that different Governments publish. Do you believe the BPL (Below Poverty Line) numbers your country publishes?

Action plans and future directions are predicated on these published data points. What if you cannot trust them? What if vested interests are manipulating the data? At the absolute micro level, think how life would change for a teenaged girl based on how she interprets ” I love you” said by her friend. Is he truthful? Can I trust? What if he is cheating me? Deceit can take Life on very very different paths. Remember the Ministry of Propaganda (Misinformation) that Goebbels ran so effectively for Hitler. Even today’s governments & organizations have a lot to hide. Which is Julian Assange’s claim to fame through WikiLeaks. We are never so easily deceived as when we imagine we are deceiving others Rochefaucauld warns us in his Maxims.

There are sins of commission and sins of omission; omitting information and concealing the truth are considered lies when they are done with an intent to deceive. In addition to statements that are false, deception encompasses statements that misrepresent or distort facts as well as the withholding of information. Recollect the Mahabharata where Dharmaraj himself deceived his Guru: अश्वथामा हतो, नारो वा कुंजारोवा अहम नाही जIनंती People can lie through outright statements or by strategic silence. Krishna’s deceptions changed many a history, but his most charming deception was making every Gopika feel he was dancing only with her, playing the flute purely for her joy!!

Lies are like wishes—often, what is said are things we wish were true. Recollect your answer when someone asks you your weight… the answer is always aspirational!! Or your reply to wife’s query ” how many drinks have you had today?” Is the answer ever true? A large body of research identifies three major reasons why people lie: to get something they want, so-called instrumental reasons; to protect or promote themselves; and to harm others. Avoiding punishment may be the main motivation for both children and adults. This applies uniformly to personal and professional lives. When the boss asks about the progress of an important project, on a scale of 1 to 10 for truthfulness, where does your answer lie? Remember, truth is always easy. It is Deception which is difficult. Ask any politician or an advertising executive!!

So is deception good or bad? Can we avoid it totally and become Raja Harishchandra in real life? Is deception, exaggeration or hiding the truth, the social grease that makes the wheels go around smoothly? I leave it to the reader to decide where he stands on this one. But if someone tells me he has ALWAYS been truthful, and NEVER deceived even a whit, I would say GET A LIFE! The social reality of today is a “fabricated” reality, a manufactured one depending on what you are playing for, and with whom. Truth is a destructive, burning ball of fire and deception is smoothening the sharp edges, sugar coating it where required, reducing the burn or the heat if you will….and ensuring people move towards a shared reality, maybe cut and pared at its edges, different from the Original, but something which helps us all to coexist and work together.

Celeste Epiphany-Waite sings it so beautifully

Hear my voice, Hear my Dreams/ Let us make a world, In which I believe

Hear my words, Hear my cry/ Let me see a change, Through these eyes

Hear my voice, Hear my dreams/ Let us make a world, In which WE believe

Remember Baudelaire: “The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”

Do not be deceived: vikibaba punter

41 Replies to “Deception”

  1. So well written Vikas. We decieve ourselves and others every day because we do not wish to reveal our vulnerabilities, our failures and our insecurities. A world more tolerant and non judging would perhaps reduce deception. On the other hand, ambition may also lead to deception but deep down is not ambition a reflection of our insecurities ? Thank you for your provocations.

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    1. VJ my friend, well said. Indeed our vulnerabilities come in the way and we hide/subvert/twist truth and give a go by to transparency and openness. There is a lurking fear of how will I be judged and evaluated which encourages the projection of aspirations rather than what we actually are.
      You raise an interesting observation about ambition. When you think about it, every ambitious soul is out to prove something. Is his fundamental insecurity driving him towards it? Good question. Now if I look back on my career and people I met, moderate ambition is fine, but all who displayed excessive ambition were indeed insecure souls out to prove their superiority in a classical over-compensating manner. Must think more on this
      Meanwhile trust you are yours are Safe & Healthy. Stay Happy
      vikas

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      1. Thank you and we are well. I would say excessive ambition may lead to having to deceive. Otherwise ambition is a positive driver. Trust you are all well too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. VJ
        indeed ambition begins as a positive force directing people ahead, but when it goes beyond a level, it hurts all that comes in the way
        enough examples of Kings and Courtiers and even Corporate Czars abound

        We are well. Only bored. Long time since we met Rashmi who is in Gurugram
        so really looking fw to the end of travel restrictions

        You take care

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  2. Well Articulated sir..

    Deception.. Bali Vad.. Drona vad under pretext of an elephant name.. so on and so forth..

    Mai nahi Makan khayo.. when makhan is visible on the lips and mouth..

    Deception for good or for evil motive matters..

    But sir, you have triggered a thought and revisit our understanding once again..

    Many thanks for writing and always love to read your blogs

    Thanks and Regards
    Shakespeare Datta

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    1. Dear Shakespeare
      Firstly sorry, I do not know how you dropped out from my mailing list
      I do write every month now a days, so do not know what is the last you have read
      But you can go on WP @ https//vikasshirodkar.blog and catch up on the ones you have missed

      As re deception: this blog stirred up a hornets nest with people telling me my stand is not clear
      I should stand for absolute truth
      and deception is always bad etc
      But really I do not buy that fully
      In life there are no pure colors, there are always shades and that is what makes life richer in my opinion

      Anyway, I do not want to be an evangelist
      To each his own

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  3. Deception is like Rays of lights Of Dimond we see. World is full of Deception of truth we feel.But I enjoy it till my Life. Thx Vikas for your True / Truth .

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    1. Thanks Dilip
      we both have seen so much
      and if i may also accept that we both have done so much that we are experts in the subject
      we understand how the light reflects and we know even the diamond is a chimera
      But yes we are blessed as we enjoy the show and the maya all around us

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  4. A simple word, but dissected, explained, elaborated, viewed in different angles and perspectives!! Great reading and quite insightful. Thanks for sharing an excellent blog.
    Sanjay Aphale

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    1. Sanjay bhau you are more than kind
      my attempt was to make the reader think and question where he stands on this important topic
      we are taught from childhood to Speak the Truth
      But the truth has many dimensions, it grows and changes and it keeps giving you surprises
      I think that is what makes life worth living

      Keep writing in
      i really value that

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    2. Sanjay
      your call and long discussion on phone was much appreciated my friend
      Besides giving me feedback on the blog, it felt good to catch up after a long time.
      The isolation and desolation surrounding us all needs to be consciously broken
      and I am am very poor at taking the first step.
      Truly appreciate your effort & time
      vikas

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  5. Vikas, as usual your blogs churn the mind and bring back many memories. Camouflage and deception has been a pet subject in the armed forces specially for those in the intelligence field. It always had a positive connotation for us. The ingenious ways to deceive the enemy during the war was a very important task. An Air Force base in the western sector was saved from the Pakistani air attack in 1965 by lighting the air firing range in the night and attracting all attacks. Use of decoys are widely used to deceive whether it is for duck shooting or foxing the enemy. Police use them widely to trap the criminals.

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    1. SD
      many thanks for the lovely examples you have shared
      I too have a positive valence to deception
      and I take serious umbrage to the “holier than thou” brigade who try to say Truth above all
      I do believe Truth is situational and can never be seen in isolation and bereft of all embellishments
      Life is about accepting and working with a blend
      Decoys & deceit will help us understand Truth in a much better way

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  6. Wonderful article, Uncle. It is quite thought provoking. Such a fresh and new perspective to deceit and lies; it happens in the smallest and most unnoticeable ways, but is very much an integral part of being human.

    Your article takes me back to a movie I saw a few years ago called ‘The Invention of Lying’. While a hearty comedy, it does give insight into what a harsh and unhappy world we would be living in if there were no lies.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
    Thank you, Uncle for inspiring a different way of looking at things.

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    1. Swati
      indeed I do not think the world is ready to face the “whole truth, the complete truth and nothing but the truth”
      To that extent deceit’s sugar coating is often required to understand any issue in a comprehensive manner
      I wanted to challenge the pedestal we seem to put Truth on
      and seeing all the responses I think I have succeeded

      I must catch up on this movie Invention of Lying.
      Indeed life could be very harsh and myopic, shorn of the embellishments of minor deceit, which may help us sweeten the bitter pill

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  7. Exceptional write Vikas Sir. Every sentence shakes you from inside. It comes as great inputs for both introspection and reflecting on self and helps possibly in course corrections. However, your words at the end says something very harsh “Truth is a destructive, burning ball of fire and deception is smoothening the sharp edges, sugar coating it where required, reducing the burn or the heat if you will….and ensuring people move towards a shared reality, maybe cut and pared at its edges, different from the Original, but something which helps us all to coexist and work together”. This somehow does not sound offering much of hope and belief that it is possible to have truth in it’s original form and that could be the reality people would share without any role of deception to play. Would like to know more from you on the subject as a learner. 🙏

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    1. Kabir
      thanks for writing in
      and thanks for your kind words of appreciation
      The harshness of the last para, was another of my attempts to shake people up from the comfort zone we all have got into
      My thesis is that there is no absolute reality/truth. Life and its reality is always always experiential and thus riddled with perception, There are indeed multiple realities like a sci-fi film in which we live. Be aware of the sugar coating factories around you who do not let pure experience and reality come your way. So chart a cautious course is my main point. And dont label anything a priori good…or bad!! Experience and move on.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So we all believe that deception is good for us and for others too, in order to endure life and make it less harsh, but in the process we lose something precious as trust which cannot be regained easily. Verily, life is a paradox as we don’t know whether to believe or to make believe. Enjoyed the incisive analysis, Sir. Thank you. Regards

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    1. Thanks Col you have indeed captured the dilemma succinctly. We are always between the Scyalla and Charybdis and jiwan ki naiyya paar lagani hai. My only request is do not get stuck on Truth. The opposite of a Great Truth is also a Truth. That is the beauty of our lives

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    1. Great, thought provoking, Vikas. You’ve taken us back to epic times to show how deception does not necessarily be a bad thing. Like Krishna, we can use deception to personalise our interactions in this world of ‘customised mass scale interactions’.

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      1. Maqsood bhai
        my apologies. Don’t know how I missed your comment till now
        I genuinely believe deception is practiced by man from times immemorial and a priori, in an absolute manner it cannot be debunked as “bad”
        Life is a journey
        and whatever you do make it smoother, take the twists and turns in your stride, is all OK
        I only object to hateful and hurtful deceptions, manipulations, agenda driven falsehoods
        as long as your intentions are pure, there is little right or wrong

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  9. We are so much used to falsehood and misinformation that it has become a challenge for an honest person to convince others of her truthful assertions! A person who easily believes others is labelled as ‘gullible’. The ‘duniya’ teaches us to doubt..not to trust ..anyone ..or anything !

    I wonder how an innocent child ,who believes everything told to her, must be shocked first time when s/he faces a deceit !! ..And then s/he learns the ways of the world..and grows in to being a sceptic !

    It is ironic that some level of untruth or ‘deception’ is now accepted in the society..” थोड़ा उन्नीस /बीस तो होता ही है “ have become the words of those who call themselves ‘practical’!

    The inclination to enter in to falsehood has roots in a sense of self -doubt or insecurity. One wants to show more than what one is.

    As the falsehood and chaos is growing in proportion , we need to be increasingly alert and need a discerning intellect which can distinguish wheat from chaff. We can ignore this only at a great peril.

    At a different level, you turn to Science and there are some accepted form of ‘deceptions’. Look at the Theory of Relativity. When I say that the train is moving at 100 kms/hr, it is not absolute truth. ..It is a speed measured as ‘relative’ to some other object which also may be moving. Indeed, as Einstein put it , every thing is relative..nothing is absolute..i.e.nothing can be termed as absolutely true!
    This , of course, is a very different track from the theme of your blog.

    What we need to be concerned bout are the falsehoods which are spread with an intention to harm someone..And there is no paucity of examples of the kind..be it duplicate vaccine or Remedesivir like life saving drugs, recycled surgical hand gloves and syringes, false occupation status of hospital beds …the list can go on and on..and you wonder how those who want to earn quick bucks can stoop so low!

    Again, you have chosen a topic which is so relevant in today’s time! Thanks for your inputs!

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    1. JLS
      thanks for your comments
      As usual you take the debate and the topic to a different level, and truly make the reader think.
      In today’s society trust is hard to find. and if some one does trust, unfortunately there are many who would take wrongful advantage to the Trust. This is sad as ideally Trust should be the bedrock on which all relationships and social interaction thrive. But the harsh experiences of a trusting soul in today’s times make the most gullible people to be “men of the world” who quickly imbibe the deceitful behaviour they see around them. In some ways we quickly reduce social protocol to the lowest common denominator and operate on the minimum one can get by level rather than doing the best you are capable of. The black marketing of Oxygen cylinders and the fake Remedesivir bears witness to the depths to which social propriety has sunk. Deceit has become an accepted coin of social interaction Really one wonders where will all this end.
      I am afraid any enquiry into Truth itself is subject to the Heisenberg principle. As we study the subject/phenomena we see it change in front of our eyes. Difficult conundrum to decide a way out. I am not being fatalistic or negative but the task ahead is not simple for anyone.

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  10. We never see a reality, it is always our perception and interpretation. Even history which is supposed to be a narrative of actual events happened is not real, it is what a person interprets and what is his frame of mind. Can we ever see a reality, objectively? It is extremely difficult.
    In Chapter 8 of Gita, shlok 1, Krishna uses the phrase “dosh-rahit drishti” means absolute objectivity without any interpretation to see the things as they are, when one achieves such “drishti” then only he will have “sakshi bhav” an observer. This is the ultimate realisation of truth.
    You are absolutely right, deception or any other name out of 118 is the daily course, and twisting the narrative for ulterior motive is common place. We as an individual can just be aware and alert not to be victim of deception.
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful writing.
    KK

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    1. KK my friend
      You are an avid reader and thinker of spirituality and matters of the mind
      so your feedback is very important to me
      Agree perception totally clouds reality and what appears to be true may very well not be, it is most likely only your interpretation
      Possibly that is what was meant as the Maya Jaal in our ancient texts
      Though we see the same things and experience the same, still no two life experiences are the same
      The Sakshi Bhaav you talk about is possible only to someone like the Buddha who has risen above and seen through the inputs coming through our doshit drishti
      rest of us can only hope to be on the right path

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  11. You have shared a truth which people may or may not accept. Thanks for sharing Nitin Joshi (Ph.D) Director BRIMS Mobile :9820163314 Dr. V. N. Bedekar Institute of Management Studies, Thane.

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    1. Dr Joshi
      indeed!!
      even in my family readers/followers of the blog, I am getting very mixed feedback
      But if people pause a moment and evaluate the for and against arguments for Deception, I have gained in lifting the veil to that extent
      Jeene ko aur kya chahiye

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  12. Exceptional write up! Thanks Vikas.

    However, deception,lying, fooling is quite often applauded in the field of sports. When Prithpal Singh dribbled hockey ball past 4 defenders to score goal for India it was deception par excellence n so also in badminton when you flick shuttle initially giving an impression that it will be a drop.

    Spying against an enemy is nothing but deception but for good cause.

    Vikas, really appreciate your examples and flow. Thank you.

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    1. Suresh
      thanks for your examples
      Like I wrote to Nikhilbhai, my thinking did not go so far as you have gone
      otherwise the examples of hockey or badminton or spying would have found place in the blog
      Thanks a lot for your comments
      Keep writing in
      that helps me stay on the path and engage with all the stakeholders
      Really appreciate your time and your friendship Suresh

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  13. Vikas

    Enjoyed reading the blog.

    Deception is routinely exercised with innocence by the very young , to escape rebuke by teenagers, for personal gain by some , for winning in wars – corporate or otherwise.

    In its sophisticated form it is also called diplomacy which is the art of deceiving & being deceived while paraphrasing the results in the fake context of morals/ laws.

    Deception remains an illogical & exaggerated extrapolation of beliefs & hope experienced through the prism of individual bias.

    Bro, look forward to your next blog.

    Nikhil

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    1. Nikhil bhai
      many thanks
      Your examples of teenagers , corporate wars, diplomacy are things which are very very relevant and I wish I had used these examples in my blog
      anyway one lives and learns
      Pl continue to write in and share your insights, they are important to me
      Establishing a connect and hearing others perspectives are imp to me
      so I will continue to write
      and I hope to continue to get your feedback
      humbly yours
      vikas

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