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Microphones-2-.jpg This article is part of the Propaganda Portal project of Spinwatch.

A person commits an act of Deception when they deliberately act in a way that leads someone else to believe something that the original communicator believes to be false. Deception can take the form of purposeful Disinformation designed to mislead others or create uncertainty, and is a vital tool in modern Psychological Warfare[1].

It is important to note that Deception can occur through means other than communicating outright falsehoods; by intentionally withholding vital information, Deception can also be achieved through what someone leaves unsaid[2].

Deception does not have to necessitate the introduction of a new false belief; intentional efforts to cause another person to keep believing a false notion are also classed as Deception[3].

Examples of Corporate Deception

Tobacco Industry

On 17 August 2006 a U.S. district judge passed a Final Judgement (pdf.) in favour of the U.S. Government, in its landmark lawsuit against major tobacco companies on the grounds of civil racketeering and Deception. Large tobacco firms were found guilty of lying to the American people for decades about the health risks of smoking and targeting their products at children.

In her Final Opinion (pdf.) judge Gladys Kessler found large tobacco firms guilty of misleading consumers in order to maximise profits by recruiting new smokers. She goes on in her Final Opinion to state that tobacco firms knew they were “selling a highly addictive product which causes diseases that lead to a staggering number of deaths per year… for at least 50 years or more. Despite that knowledge, they have consistently…denied these facts to the public, to the Government, and to the public health community”[4].



  1. Laura Murray, China’s Psychological Warfare, c41 website, accessed 19 March 2015
  2. Truth About Deception, What Is The Definition of Deception?, Truth About Deception website, accessed 20 March 2015
  3. James Mahon, The Definition of Lying and Deception, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, 21 February 2008
  4. Tobacco Free Kids, Big Tobacco Guilty As Charged, Tobacco Free Kids website, 01 July 2010, accessed 20 March 2015