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The Big Lie

 

Techniques Propaganda > The Big Lie

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Make a claim that is so outrageous that people will assume that it cannot be a lie, and so accept it as truth.

Strongly assert the lie. Massage available data to 'prove' the lie as being true. Reframe vigorous denial as proof of guilt. 

Example

A local political candidate suggests that their opponent is planning to sell off public recreation areas and produces a plan and ambiguous 'leaked' recordings that hint at behinds the scenes dealings.

Discussion

People generally need to believe one another, yet also are on the lookout for falsehood. Most of regularly tell small lies and engage in minor deception, and so expect others to do likewise. When a big lie is told, this does not fit into our model of modest mendacity, and so we say 'It must be true'.

Keeping up a lie is difficult, as Pinocchio found out. You have to keep adding lies to shore up the leaks. Yet it is surprising how a confident and assertive manner can persuade people that black is white and that the unlikely is true. Just as we think others tell similar lies to us, we also assume they will feel embarrassed by it and so be unlikely to be brash and bold in stating their lies. 

Conspiracy theorists believe that there are many big lies, on subject ranging from alien creatures to secret cabals who rule the world. Paradoxically, their claims are often based on belief more than hard evidence and so they too could be accused of using The Big Lie.

See also

Lying

 

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