How to Lie, by Novelist Jesse BallJesse Ball
To lie effectively, it’s crucial that you remove all feelings of discomfort and moral quandary so you can control your demeanor. If you do not, they will hang from your tail like a tin can, and you’ll be found out.
Step 1. Profile your mark. Go over him with a fine-toothed comb and figure out as many things as you can. The more you know about him, the easier it will be to deceive him.
Step 2. Decide on what you want to achieve with the lie. Then find a way to tie that lie into a concept that supports the world the mark believes in. An easy way to understand this is to imagine the mark saying the phrase that contains the lie to someone else. Imagine overhearing the mark repeating what you’ve said because it supports the basic tenets of his life. Your lie should be embedded in such a phrase. The effect of this is that the mark will not consider the truth or falsity of your claim because he accepts the truth of the entire statement.
Step 3. Do not add to the lie in a weak-kneed way in order to repair it while in the midst of your deception. Simply let it stand. Never be the one to delineate the lie’s silhouette. Permit the silhouette to stand in obscurity. If the mark wants to figure out what’s true or not, let him do that work. People are often too lazy to think illogical propositions all the way through, and that’s why they don’t realize the propositions are incorrect.
Step 4. Don’t feel that in lying you’re trying to persuade. Lying isn’t about persuasion, it’s about manipulation. If you try to persuade someone, you’re trying to change a person’s belief. That’s hard work. You don’t want to do that. You want to trick the mark into believing that your lie fits with everything else he already believes. Nobody likes to be persuaded of things. Every person believes himself stubborn. Don’t fight that! Just make the mark believe you are agreeing with him when you lie to him.
Remember, to lie well is to take advantage of the mark’s faulty perception. A great liar is a great perceiver of truth. A mark has a romanticized idea of the world. To keep that idealistic view, the mark must lie to himself. He probably does that every day, just to stay sane. In fact, everyone does this. To be human is to lie!
• Ball is an assistant professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He teaches courses on lying and wandering, among other subjects.