Truth is the truth and a lie is a lie, right? Well, it can get a little blurry at times. Yes, we all have problems with recognising the truth from lies, but sometimes it’s because we’re dealing with manipulators.
To make things worse, liars and manipulators are using the illusion of truth to convince us that what they say, or omit, is fact. Their tactics seem to be working better than ever.
What Is the Illusion of Truth?
The illusion of truth is not just a statement in a sentence describing how someone deceived you.
Psychologist Tom Stafford has shared a secret with us about this illusion. He says the secret of avoiding lies is to avoid repetition. Yes, some of the best liars and manipulators use repetition to instil a sort of familiarity in the brain. What seems familiar often seems truthful, wouldn’t you think?
This way of thinking has been coined the illusion of truth effect. It works by comparing truth with a lie, by only changing a small portion of the lie to resemble a second truth.
Let’s look at an example. The truth would be, “A penny is brown”, and a lie would be “a dime is brown”. I guess this one is a little too obvious, but it can easily be twisted if the dime just happens to be tarnished or covered with something. This would actually be a breeze for a liar.
Now, back to repetition. If you were told the lie about the coins once, and then again, you might believe it, especially if your perception was off.
However, it would be easier to fool someone with repetition by using fruits or vegetables. You can convince someone that peanuts grow on trees if you repeat it enough and show nothing to prove otherwise. I believe it’s how politicians pass off lies for the truth for so long and develop quite a large following.
Now, this effect may be interesting, but in the worst of hands, it can prove to be catastrophic to the lives of honest people. When toxic people, such as manipulators, learn the ability to lie in this manner, they can lie in all sorts of ways.