DECEPTION: camouflaged action designed to profit from habituated expectations

Deception is nature's strategy for promoting self-interest. Predators and prey indulge in an endless game of camouflage where, by avoiding detection, they either obtain food or avoid becoming it. Deception is a secrecy of intention and is an intrinsic natural reality. To a considerable degree, successful deception is the factor that facilitates evolution.

In human society deception is integral to many aspects of everyday life and is vital for achieving many goals. It pervades every aspect of living. The more a lure appears to be what a fish expects, the greater are the chances of hooking a prize. Theatre succeeds by means of the highly skilled deception art of acting. Deception and misinformation work just as well in the sports arena as in the field of battle. The mass media manipulates the presentation of reality to suit their journalistic and celebrity agendas. Advertisers and politicians put any spin whatever on promotional presentations that seem most appropriate to enhance their prospects. To be unaware of the pervasive presence of deception in society is to be extremely vulnerable.

'Honesty' is a behaviour enthusiastically encouraged by those conducting deception. It is a very convenient control strategy for those in power to have a population that is encouraged to be open and forthright. Authoritarian police states, religious confessional systems, political pollsters, all rely on being able to deceive but not being substantially deceived themselves. The oft promoted dictum 'honesty is the best policy' may have appropriate applications in an environment of mutual trust but, in numerous circumstances, it is nothing less than gullible naivety.

All deception or secrecy must be carefully weighed in the circumstances against its potential outcomes. Every deception involves a risk of being discovered and you are expected to consider all the possibilities. A snagged fish-hook of deception may end up as a barb in your eye. A spy uncovered is a spy undone. Get found out and the consequences are very thin on sympathy. That's the way it works. In a relationship of mutual trust the outcome of a deception attempting to contrive a surprise birthday party might be appreciated, but a lying betrayal uncovered can do nothing but destroy the original relationship. If a trust relationship was mutually beneficial and a blatant deception is revealed, there's not a lot of restorative value in the weeping and wailing and restitutional promises of the deceiver.

It is specious moralistic nonsense trying to teach children never to lie. Whether it is in physical or social circumstances, survival often depends upon effective camouflage. No creature teaches its own offspring how not to use its camouflage. It became successful because of it. The hidden motive is masked. The reality behind the screen is hidden from view. Even comedians cannot survive without it. They promote one line of association-expectation whilst a parallel line of expectations is kept out of mind. Upon revelation with the punch line, the comedian hopes to be rewarded with laughter as the only consequence. Everyone... children included... need to carefully weigh up the possible benefits of a deception against the probable penalties. The consequences for having a deception uncovered are quite often absolutely disastrous.