Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Why do Denial and Deception continue to succeed despite all that is known about them?

An excerpt from an interesting academic discussion I was a part of regarding the applicability of denial and deception in modern warfare/strategic situations. I thought it might be applicable to CI as well:


“I make the enemy see my strengths as weaknesses and my weaknesses as strengths while I cause his strengths to become weaknesses and discover where he is not strong…I conceal my tracks so that none can discern them; I keep silence so that none can hear me.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War 


In my opinion, denial and deception continue to succeed despite all that is known about them due to the simple fact that, by definition, they are a way of altering perceived reality. Since reality is a constant and is dynamic, it is always subject to being manipulated for those involved. There are essentially infinite possibilities to alter reality because each moment and situation is unique. 


It is similar to playing poker, in that denial and deception is expected, but virtually impossible to discern from the truth. In any strategic situation one side can expect denial and deception from the other, however, discerning the truth from the false reality is extremely difficult. Effective denial and deception could consist of an extremely minor alteration of reality or a total fabrication. These two tactics serve to keep an opposing force off balance and constantly guessing. 


One of the main benefits of utilizing denial and deception is that it prevents or greatly increases the difficulty of proper risk calculation and management of the opposing force. Similar to how in poker, one can utilize their betting pattern to manipulate an opponent’s risk management by dictating pot odds/pot equity. Even if the opponent suspects bluffing, sometimes it is simply not worth it to call. This same principle can be utilized in any strategic situation. 


Denial and deception will exist and be expected as long as reality itself exists. Therefore, even though the concepts are well known, they will continue to be effective.




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