The Art of Deceit: Why presentation matters

I think it is safe to say that just by being human, we are familiar with the art of deceit and manipulation. Whether it is more common to be a victim or a culprit of such tactics, I don’t know, but it’s not uncommon to be both, either.

You’ve seen it in literature, in films, in life–deceit is everywhere. More often than not, the perpetrator is seen as a villain–take, for example, Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, or Napoleon in Animal Farm. The question is, why? Being a manipulative hero isn’t so bad either.
Just look at Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo. Okay, maybe he’s not a complete hero, but I’d certainly like to be as boss as he is (just without all the tragedy).

Villain or not, manipulation is an exceptionally effective and useful tool in getting what these characters want.

You see, telling a lie isn’t always such a terrible thing. (Don’t get me wrong, though–I certainly am not advocating a life of lies and deceit.)

Just think of the last time you smiled and shifted uncomfortably as you told your friend’s dear mother that her cardboard chocolate chip cookies were divine. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

If we’re talking about manipulation, though, Othello‘s Iago pulls it off perfectly. He has the immaculate facade of a well-disciplined, honest man, fooling others into believing that he is not the sly fox that he is. He doesn’t even have to lie–everything is perfectly planned through subtle gestures and seemingly harmless, well-intentioned comments.

And while we’re at it, the same kind of manipulation is found everywhere in food. “What?” you say. “Manipulation?” It may not be the kind you are thinking of, or the harmful kind that Iago uses, but keep with me here. Assuming that the same ingredients are used in each, take a look at the different cupcakes below:

Which would you rather eat?

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