Adventures in a World of Deception

By Kate Jones

It’s hard to summarise last night’s CamCreatives talk ‘Adventures in a World of Deception’. We covered so much ground!

I’ll start with the important questions you should always ask to protect yourself from deception:

  1. are you changing your behaviour?
  2. who benefits?

Our speaker, Stuart Scott, is a magician and deception consultant. He is a civilian advisor to the military and has worked in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Iraq.

Deception is about control and manipulation. Stuart showed us how a magician controls an audience by demonstrating the French drop coin vanishing trick He explained how the magician’s hand movements draw your eye.

There is truth and there is the effect. Deception is overlaying the effect on the truth so your audience only ever sees what you want them to see.

For the military, deception can be a means to an end without having to use force. We looked at the story of Operation Mincemeat. However, this brought up a number of ethical issues! The ethics of deception is a whole talk in itself.

Stuart shared some of the work he is doing for his upcoming book. He has devised a theoretical deception framework that can be applied to magic, the military, games, relationships – anything in fact!

We looked at a few techniques that are used in deception including:

  • Elizabeth Loftus’s study about the misinformation effect.
  • Paul Ekman’s work on micro facial expressions. This is the closest way to tell if someone is lying (and the basis of the TV series Lie to Me with Tim Roth if you remember that one?).

And three more things I found out to finish:

  1. There’s no difference (that’s been discovered yet) in susceptibility between men and women. The people most likely to be deceived are the ones who think they can’t be deceived!
  2. Lie detector tests don’t work – but they are a really good deterrent to deception because people think they do! Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret!
  3. The first ever deception conference took place in 2015 at the University of Cambridge!

It was really interesting to swap stories of being deceived with Gregory Holman and Chloe Ambrose 💡 And I think (hope) we are all a little bit wiser now.

Next month (18 June) we’ll be chatting with Laurence Oldham from Frontier Developments. See you then!

Stuart Scott, is a magician and deception consultant