“The most effective lies,” I read recently, “are the ones containing the most actual truths.” Manipulators lie but the lies they propagate are often constructed using nothing but facts as building materials.
True story. One time, I went downtown and a man with a mask knocked me out, slit my throat and took my money. Let that sink in for a minute. Pretty frightening, isn’t it, because what I just told you sounds like a story of a mugging. But actually, what I just told you is the story of a surgery. Years ago, I was having some orthopedic symptoms caused by a disk in my neck that required surgical repair. So, with that as a context, here’s the story again. One time, I went downtown and a man with a mask knocked me out, slit my throat and took my money.
Notice that every single element of the story is factually accurate. If you got mad at me for misleading you, I could legitimately use as a defense, “Hey, I just told you the facts.” But facts don’t speak for themselves; they require interpretation. Mugging is the inaccurate interpretation while surgery is the one that’s accurate.
Manipulators have perfected the art of quoting facts while telling lies. To guard against manipulation, we need to examine the often concealed meaning of the words they utter.