Maybe what you’re hearing is not factional information. You could be the victim of the illusion of truth.

Truth is the truth and a lie is a lie, right? Well, it can get a little blurry at times. Yes, we all have problems with recognizing the truth from lies, but sometimes it’s because we’re dealing with manipulators.

To make things worse, liars and manipulators are using the illusion of truth to convince us that what they say, or omit, is fact. Their tactics seem to be working better than ever.

What Is the Illusion of Truth?

The illusion of truth is not just a statement in a sentence describing how someone deceived you.

Psychologist Tom Stafford has shared a secret with us about this illusion. He says the secret of avoiding lies is to avoid repetition. Yes, some of the best liars and manipulators use repetition to instill a sort of familiarity in the brain. What seems familiar often seems truthful, wouldn’t you think?

This way of thinking has been coined the illusion of truth effect. It works by comparing truth with a lie, by only changing a small portion of the lie to resemble a second truth.

Let’s look at an example.  The truth would be, “A penny is brown”, and a lie would be “a dime is brown”. I guess this one is a little too obvious, but it can easily be twisted if the dime just happens to be tarnished or covered with something. This would actually be a breeze for a liar.

Now, back to repetition. If you were told the lie about the coins once, and then again, you might believe it, especially if your perception was off.

However, it would be easier to fool someone with repetition by using fruits or vegetables. You can convince someone that peanuts grow on trees if you repeat it enough and show nothing to prove otherwise. I believe it’s how politicians pass off lies for the truth for so long and develop quite a large following.

Now, this effect may be interesting, but in the worst of hands, it can prove to be catastrophic to the lives of honest people. When toxic people, such as manipulators, learn the ability to lie in this manner, they can lie in all sorts of ways.

Here are ways the illusion of truth is used by manipulators:


Some people are easily convinced and manipulated by people who use rationalization. When it comes to lying, rationalization is a way to hide inner lies.

For example, if you confront someone about their behavior, they may try to rationalize why it happened. If something missing is found in a man’s coat pocket, he may never admit that he stole the item. Instead, he may say something like this,

“Oh, I don’t know how that got in there. I did let a friend of mine use my coat when they came over.”

The truth is, the man stole the item, maybe a broach or even money. He passes the blame to an unknown friend and then rationalizes how the item got into his pocket.

This same person probably uses the same strategy whenever he is caught red-handed. No matter what he’s done wrong, he rationalizes and shows that there was a perfectly honest reason for what happened.


This tactic which shows how the illusion of truth can be used focuses mostly on making real lies seem like nothing.

Many people lie about where they are or what they’re doing. When their loved ones or partners find out the truth, they try to minimalize the situation likes it’s no big deal.  One thing that might be said when someone is confronted about lying about being at a concert is,

“It’s not such a big deal. I just didn’t want you to worry about me being in that large crowd.”

Whether this is the real reason or not, it’s still a lie, and usually, when someone does this once, they have always done it and will always keep doing it as long as the situation isn’t improved. A lie is a lie, no matter how small. This, we must remember.


Have you ever heard someone you love tell a story, and then later hear a whole lot more that they left out. The part they left out, yes, that part was the part that they knew would make you upset. To keep you happy with them, they omitted a part of their story. Do you know what this is? It’s lying.

Yes, I’m sorry to inform you, but omittance is lying, just like telling a stark lie. If you have information that you purposefully hold back, you are doing nothing less than hiding the truth from the ones you love.

It’s a prime example of the illusion we’re given in place of the truth. It’s as if the important information had become invisible.


There are ways of persuasion that can make lies seem like truth. Persuasion creates an illusion by reasoning and speaking of one’s own good reputations. When lies seem attractive, they also start to look like truth, depending on how much persuasion is being used and in what manner.

For instance, if someone does and speaks many good things, then it’s easier to believe that they would be honest. Unfortunately, sometimes these are the ones who lie the most. The good deeds and persuasive talk are ways of covering their heinous acts.

Don’t be fooled

I will be honest with you, I think I’m dealing with most of these tactics in my life right now. I will keep quiet about which people are doing this. Anyway, the illusion of what seems to be true looks so much like the real thing that you can go years before learning the truth behind the falsities.

The best way to recognize when the illusion of the truth is being used against you is to become educated and watch for the signs. There are many red flags that will help you become alert and ready for the lies. When they happen, then it’s up to you whether or not you will tolerate the disrespect.

Are you being tricked?



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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Horia

    You omit to specify that the liar’s paradox (which you cite,when saying a lie is a lie) is quite old.

    1. Sherrie Hurd

      Yes, this is quite an old statement and fact. Unfortunately, so many uses excuses still today. You have to keep teaching people and making sure they understand this.

  2. charles muller

    I know exactly who you are talking about: The most narcissistic, egotistical demagogue on earth. You know…that guy with orange hair…He has a whole faction of simple minded people under his spell through various tactics ofgas lighting, fear mongering, and most of all, Flat out LYING! And then his republican right wing base that know exactly how he is (they’re intelligent at judging character), but they tolerate him because he supports their agenda. It truly is disgusting!

    1. Sherrie Hurd


      You know, there are many liars. There are more liars than there are those who tell lies or have told liars. There is such a difference. Yes, a lie is a lie, but pathological lying is a beast all its own.

  3. Jo Alex SG

    I think this issue has deeper roots still, as it hinges on the very use of words to describe or manipulate facts by rhetoric.

    In reality, there are even more serious consequences of that manipulation of facts by warping them as in when innocent people get tricked into confessing faults or crimes they haven’t perpetrated, by the misuse of psychological techniques and torture for that wicked purpose and spurious, sophistic arguments, leading the emotionally vulnerable victim to believe in their own guilt, in which case also enters the known phenomenon of psychological pressure by the social group.

    This has been attested several times in real life and it one of the scariest aspects of evil, since it makes the victim believe to be the actual culprit or, in theocratic societies in which those who do not adjust to the religious taboos get punished or execrated for trifles which their religions deems as major infractions.

    Also, there are also the many known cases in which, despite all the evidence pointing to the defendant’s guilty, nevertheless, a radical twist in the process ends up showing him or her innocent, sometimes too late to safe their lives, as it happened in several cases of death sentences in which the innocence of the accused only comes out to light after he or she has been executed.

    And, last but not least, the many instances in which psychiatry and psychology themselves have been used by tyrannical regimes to brand dissidents and critics of totalitarian regimes as lunatics, or dishonest family members trying to prove insane the relatives whose fortunes they want to take for themselves.

    1. Sherrie Hurd

      I agree, Jo.

      How lies work can be discussed for hours, and still there would be deeper implications, more situations, and reasons that we don’t understand. It is unfortunate that people who are innocent have gone to their deaths, many times because of the coerced admission of others – hence lies. These are the deadly lies. Psychology does have the gift of using lies to fulfill its purpose too, as in making the “crazy” feel more “crazy”. If you get enough people together in your family to prove you need to be taken into in-patient care, you can lie, and it shall be done. There are so many scenarios that open up the subject of lies and how they work. Lies are one of the purest of evil when it comes to weapons and even ways of life. I know people who lie, and they don’t even have to do it. I mean, they volunteer absolutely ridiculous lives that don’t exist…sometimes entire double lives. I think this subject could do with a bit more research too. There’s so much to learn with this.

  4. Jan B

    I have found out a couple of things about liars. First of all, I am not trying to sympathize with them, but, a lot of them learned to lie when they were very little. Screaming, crazy angry parents can be terrifying to small children, who are too young to understand what’s going on. They just learn that well constructed words and tactics are their best defense. So, they become pathological liars as a self defense. From there, it becomes a way to get what they want. They learn not only to lie, but to cast blame on others. The pathology part of it becomes so deeply ingrained that to some extent they may not even realize what they are doing. It just comes as second nature. They may even believe their own lies. I had a husband like this. And, guess what? He had screaming crazy angry parents and they dished out a lot of corporal punishment. I believe that the child may develop a sort of narcissist foundation to their personality, because they are constantly working from a point of self defense.. not just physically, but for survival of the ego. So, that’s one consideration for you. But, I have to tell you that I believe that the victims of liars are also an important part of the problem. I have a saying, that most people believe what they want to believe. I call it, “selective reality syndrome”. Most people would prefer to believe and trust others, especially those that they have an investment in, in relationships of different kinds. The trust factor is so important in the development and maintenance of the relationship that the victim of lies will lie to themselves and deny the obvious truth in order to preserve the relationship. I think that we have all heard stories of people who experienced something traumatic or causing internal conflict and would never talk about it. I have seen this happen. I was driving my mother in law home one day and an SUV flipped over and landed on it’s roof, not more then eight feet from our car. Mother in law acted as if it never happened! Unbelievable, but true! I couldn’t understand that, but it was threatening to her and she responded by avoiding the threat in the only way possible, namely to ignore / avoid it.
    So, I guess what I am saying is that sometimes the PERCEPTION of reality is more powerful than the reality, itself. People out there in this world are in all stages of denial and false perceptions. So, we all lie to ourselves, just as often as we lie to others. So, it would seem. And we may actually believe the lies that we tell others.
    And, if someone in your life is lying to you and has BEEN lying to you, you may have suspected this a long time ago, but suppressed that which you did not want to believe. So, you lied to yourself, probably because you could not deal with the consequences and choices normally incumbent on that discovery. Which brings up another point..
    A well practiced liar will always play on your wishes and fears. And, if you play the game, you will fall into their hand like a ripe, juicy peach. Thereby is created a sort of dual relationship, not unlike a dependent / co-dependent relationship.
    It’s very comfortable to believe in lies. So, that’s what people do. They work very hard to fit in and accept the popular version of truth. They will even viciously attack anyone who threatens that perception with facts and evidence or even a conflicting theory or opinion. Case in point..
    I have just lost a 50 year friendship with a man who is and has been (unfortunately) prone to believing conspiracy theories. He has bought in to certain popular theories that he started to post some of it to my Facebook page. I didn’t let it bother me that much, as I figured he was entitled to his own opinion (ironically it wasn’t actually HIS opinion), but I let him do it. No big deal. I am able to tolerate an open forum and I don’t identify my friends only as those who agree with me. LOL.. BUT, GET THIS!!! As soon as I posted an article which conflicted with one of his fiercely held beliefs, he went kinda nuts and started pulling all his posts down from my timeline, then later insulted me in a telephone conversation, telling me that I was “selfish” and only thought of myself. I’d just given the guy a $500 gift, because he was sick and had been missing work. I didn’t give him the money for the benefit of his good opinion, but purely out of sympathy and gratitude for so many years of friendship. Now, he was treating me like an enemy and pretty quickly we were no longer on speaking terms. It’s sad when you can know someone for fifty years and it ends like that. But, one of the problems was the lies that he had bought into. He was now so polarized to the rest of society that he was going into a self imposed isolation.
    Yes.. Lies are very powerful.
    Jesus talked about the “children of the lie” as opposed to those who follow and live by truth. The way of the truth can be a hard and lonely road. Most people would rather follow the masses, even into destruction of the soul.
    For those who are raising children, be gentle with them and take the time to talk with them.. teach them reason and perception and to think for themselves. Don’t focus so much on teaching them WHAT to think, as to gently coax them to use their own powers of observation, reason and understanding. There’s an age when they WANT to learn and their most frequent question is “Why?” They are really very open. It’s well worth the time and effort to teach them.
    I have a sort of personal belief that following the lie only brings increasing degrees of crazy. I think that this is what happens to a lot of people as they grow old. Some people just seem to pass a point of no return..

    1. Sherrie Hurd

      I’ve encountered lies during the entirety of my life, such lies that my family saw them as truth. So, I get it. I was sexually abused from the age of 4 until the age of 10, and none of my family saw it or knew it was happening, or so they say…I love my mother and father, god rest their souls, but it’s hard for me to believe how they had no idea that my adult cousin was coming to our house and molesting me. I think of this often now. I have a brother also, but I can believe that he didn’t know because he was running around with his friends. I was left with my grandmother most of the time while my father went out doing various things (he didn’t work) and my mother worked a factory job. I cannot understand how my grandmother, for 6 years, had no idea that something strange was going on. This man was slightly mentally impaired, and I do mean sightly because he could speak well drive, and basically just acted like he had an extremely low IQ, so maybe everyone trusted him as a playmate for me at times.

      Did they lie to themselves about the little things they saw? I will never know. All of my immediate family is dead except for my brother and sister (who, I might add, was married and gone before I was born, so she didn’t know for sure). Of course, I have cousins, many of them, of whom he molested as well. One is dead because of drinking and the internal damage it caused him. Did all these people lie, or did they deny what they were witnessing until they pushed it so far back and went about their daily routine?I have so many questions, and there will never be enough answers for this. I was also in a marriage where my husband seemed to dedicate himself to lying to save his butt. I tried to change him, then I took the blame, then I went into denial and pretended everything was okay, then back to confrontations…on and on for almost 20 years. Finally, I left.

      So, what exactly are lies? My parents felt the need to lie to prevent them from going through drama. I cannot say that they ever forgot about my trauma, but they never treated him any differently. Before they found out, he mowed our yard. After they found out, he still mowed our yard. During family reunions, he still tries to put his arm around me. My fault in all this, and the lie that I told myself was this, “I cannot do anything about it”. I told myself this lie until the statutes of limitations ran out. Now, I sit around and ask myself silently, “Did that really happen to me?”

      It did happen, and I’m glad I’m writing it here, just in case I start believing my own lies again. IT happened, things happen, and lies are the glue that holds the bad parts together.

  5. Yash


  6. Yanni

    i myself learned a lot in this, some i already knew but, i learned a lot, i myself, am sadly a pathological liar, but as the person above said, it is out of self defense, i remember i used to lie about the little things, out of fear, i don’t know why i kept doing it, and recently, or well, in the last year and few months, I’ve started, to tell the truth more, even if it was bad, and i learned to, rather tell the truth then lie and pretend things were ok, I’ve also learned to say no in the last year, to my mother, it’s been hard, I’ve feared her since i was small, and ill be honest i still do, I’ve been reading a lot of the articles on here, i originally found the site because my sister said im a guilt tripper, and i kept asking her how, but she wouldn’t explain it, just said look it up, didn’t have a good example for someone who doesn’t forget every wrong doing I’ve done for the last 18 years of my life. the only reason I’ve stopped lying like i did, is because of my friends, and my boyfriend of over one year, they gave me the support and the confidence i needed to stand up, to my mother, and realize her ways, and my own, and i told them everything, something i cant do with my mother, or family really.and not to say i didn’t struggle with my boyfriend, i did that omitting thing, but that was because he didn’t really like my choice of friends, which is only understandable because of the incident that happened, but he’s come around, doesn’t mean he likes them, but he tolerates them for me, and i tolerate his friends too, and im even cool with most of them, i got off track, my point is i’ve been working on it, and its not a purposeful thing i wAnt to do, it is like a second nature sometimes, when im nervous or im scared, i slip, and i lie, so that i can stay out of trouble, and protect my self, because i care about what the people closest to me think, i’ve stopped caring how my mother thinks of me, but as for my friend family, i want to do my best, and not disappointing them is more important lying to save my own hide. or whatever, im only 18, i have a ways to go, but i just wanted some advice on how i could improve myself, and make better, i forget to mention my family family, is full of, the you tell me i cant do it so im gonna prove you wrong heads and im more the, i need help one, so a lot of negative sayings get thrown around. and if you do respond thank you

    1. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

      I am proud of you, Yanni. YOu are only 18, and yet, you recognize that you have some issues…like all of us. I’ve also gotten better with lying since I’ve grown older. When I was your age, I lied quite a bit more. I am 45 now, and I detest lies so much that when I start to lie, I can’t get through the day without coming clean. And yes, omittance is a lie. I also don’t care much about some of my husband’s friends, but that is not something I can control. I do catch myself trying to control it, but then feel defeated when I realize I’ve done it again and must get better.

      So honestly, you want some advice? Well, for one, keep working on your life in all areas, especially being honest. Honesty is a rare thing in the world today. We are going through so much right now, people hoarding, stealing, mistreating each other and definitely lying about things left and right. You just stay true to what’s right, and you know what that is. Sometimes, it’s incredibly hard to not lie to save ourselves, but all you can do is try. Use discernment to know what’s the best choice for yourself. No one else can make those decisions for you. And most importantly of all, always know that you are loved, needed, important, and beautiful. We all are. Never let anyone try and destroy your self-worth. I wish you well today and hope you stay safe and happy.

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