16 Apr 2011

Lying, Deceiving and Acting as Adaptation

Posted by jofr

Camouflage has a great importance in warfare. It is an attempt to avoid observation and prevent detection by enemies. Warplane, warships, tanks, soldiers use human-made forms of camouflage to adapt the appearance to the expectation of potential enemies, which expect to see the original landscape. They try to disappear on the battlefield by using a suitable disguise which matches the background perfectly.

Caterpillars, frogs, snakes, reptiles and many other animals try to avoid observation by using camouflage, too. They only use natural forms of camouflage: stripes, spots and patterns in various colors. They deceive potential predators by sophisticated camouflage techniques which show them what they expect to see.

In short, deceiving by using camouflage techniques is an adaptation to the expectations of the observer. Lying – deceiving by using words – and acting – pretending by using actions – are a similar adaptation as well, they are all methods to produce what the observer expects to perceive. Camouflage means showing what the observer wants to see, Lying means saying what the listener wants to hear, Acting means doing what the director or screenwriter wants to see:

  • Camouflage is an adaptation of appearance
  • Acting is an adaptation of behavior
  • Lying is an adaptation of facts

All three kinds are ways to modify an environment, to change reality, and to alter facts. Of course facts can not be changed because there is only one truth, as Vasily Grossman observed in his book “Life and Fate”: “There is only one truth. There cannot be two truths. [..] A partial truth is no truth at all.” Facts are either true or not. Deceiving means to present the observer a different world, a world which differs from the real one. It means to mislead someone, to fool someone, and to withhold information. Even simple primates are good at it.

( The picture from the HMS Belfast is from Wikipedia, the picture from the lizard is from Flickr user Rich Dahlgren )

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One Response to “Lying, Deceiving and Acting as Adaptation”

  1. […] We have seen earlier that the ability to obtain, process and evaluate information, called intelligence, can be seen as an adaptation to change. As H.G. Wells said in “The Time Machine”: “there is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change”. Manipulation of information and distortion of reality – including flattering, lying, deceiving and pretending – can be considered as an adaptation, too. It is as adaptation to the expectations of the observer. […]


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