Spin – The Art of Political Lying

July 20, 2016

By Terence T. Gorski

Here is how Wilipedia defines and describes SPIN: 

Spin is propaganda or presenting lies to the public as the truth. The term, “plausible deniability” actual means to protect politicians from the consequences of getting caught in a lie. 

In public relations, Spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to persuade public opinion in favor or against some organization or public figure. 

While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” often implies the use of disingenuous, deceptive, and highly manipulative tactics.[1]

Politicians are often accused by their opponents of claiming to be truthful and seek the truth while using spin tactics to manipulate public opinion. Large corporations with sophisticated public relations branches also engage in “spinning” information or events in their favor. 

Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these take place is sometimes described as a spin room.

Public relations advisors, pollsters and media consultants who develop spin may be referred to as “spin doctors” or “spinmeisters” who manipulate the truth and create a biased interpretation of events for the person or group that hired them.
The term has its origin in the old American expression “to spin a yarn”. 

Sailors were known for using their spare time on board making thread or string (yarn) and also for telling incredible tales when they were on shore. 

When someone fooled you, it was said that “he spun me an amazing yarn”. Yarn also became a synonym for “tall tale” – “What a yarn!”, means “what a lie”. 

A coarser and more contemporary version of this expression is “bullshit”, and, for anyone who seeks to deceive, “bullshit artist”. 
History of Spin

Edward Bernays has been called the “Father of Public Relations”. As Larry Tye describes in his book The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations, Bernays was able to help tobacco and alcohol companies use techniques to make certain behaviors more socially acceptable in the 20th-century United States. Tye claims that Bernays was proud of his work as a propagandist. 

As information technology has increased dramatically since the end of the 20th century, commentators like Joe Trippi have advanced the theory that modern Internet activism spells the end for political spin. By providing immediate counterpoint to every point a “spin doctor” can come up with, this theory suggests, the omnipresence of the Internet in some societies will inevitably lead to a reduction in the effectiveness of spin.[4]
The techniques of spin include:
Selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one’s position (cherry picking). For example, a pharmaceutical company could pick and choose trials where their product shows a positive effect, ignoring the unsuccessful trials, or a politician’s staff could handpick speech quotations from past years which appear to show her support for a certain position)

  • Non-denial denial
  • Non-apology apology
  • Politically-correct deception
  • Making misinformation (deliberate lies) seem like the truth 

“Mistakes were made” is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was managed by using low-quality or inappropriate handling but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by not specifying the person who made the mistakes. The acknowledgement of “mistakes” is framed in an abstract sense, with no direct reference to who made the mistakes and what exactly the mistakes were. The ultimate mistake, of course, is to get caught in the lie. 

A less evasive construction might be along the lines of “I made mistakes” or “John Doe made mistakes.” The speaker neither accepts personal responsibility nor accuses anyone else. The word “mistakes” also does not imply intent.
Phrasing in a way that assumes unproven truths, or avoiding the question[5]

“Burying bad news”: announcing unpopular things at a time when it is believed that the media will focus on other news. In some cases, governments have released potentially controversial reports on summer long weekends, to avoid significant news coverage. Sometimes that other news is supplied by deliberately announcing popular items at the same time.

Spin includes the art of misdirection and diversion[6]

For years businesses have used fake or misleading customer testimonials by editing/spinning customers to reflect a much more satisfied experience than was actually the case. In 2009 the Federal Trade Commission updated their laws to include measures to prohibit this type of “spinning” and have been enforcing these laws as of late. 

Additionally, over the past 5 to 6 years several companies have arisen that verify the authenticity of the testimonials businesses present on the marketing materials in an effort to convince one to become a customer.


GORSKI BOOKS: www.relapse.org

Lying and Second Chances

January 18, 2015

By Terence T. Gorski
Author (The Books of Terence T. Gorski)

“For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.” ~ Bo Bennett

When you catch someone telling a lie, should you give him or her a second chance? Or should you follow the advice of William Shakespeare: “Trust not him that hath once broken faith.”

This question, when approached thoughtfully, is more difficult to answer than it first appears.

When I ask people whether they should give a second chance to someone who tells them a lie, the answers I get range from “absolutely yes” to “absolutely no.”

Other people have developed rules for when to give a second chance and when to cut their losses by getting the person out of their life, or at least out of their box of sensitive secrets.

The answer to the question of what to do when you discover they are lying depends upon how we define the idea of telling lies and telling the truth. So let’s ask the tough questions that are not as easy to answer as they may seem.

What is a lie?

Here’s the dictionary definition: “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
Synonyms include prevarication and falsification. Antonyms include truth.

What is the truth?

The dictionary tells us that it is “the true actual state of a matter. That which is really happening or going on. Conformity with the facts or reality.” The the concept of the truth is further clarified as: “the real facts about something: the things that are true: the quality or state of being true: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true; A statement that is supported by evidence.”

Wow! These are really circular definitions that essentially tell us “the truth is what is true!”

These definitions of truth beg a very important issue: the truth is rarely absolute and is usually relative to what is accepted as truth at the time and the “truth as we see it from our point of view.”

Most of the time to “tell the truth” means to “explain our best understanding given our point of view, the extent of our knowledge, and the currently best known and most widely accepted evidence.”

Honesty and lying are as much about the intent to deceive as it is about giving mistaken information.

If you make an honest mistake in solving a mathematical problem, it is usually not considered a lie. It is a mistake or unintentional error. It might be a lie if you deliberately falsify the answers for some secondary gain.

So, in my opinion, it would make sense to make the distinction between an honest mistake (I believe that what I am saying to be factual or true) and a lie (I know what is true and deliberately try to tell you something else).

I find that most people who tell one lie (i.e tell others that something is true when they know that it is not), tend to tell other lies as well. They use lies as an habitual tool to gain things of value in life or to deny some painful truths.

Sometimes the habitual liar can convince themselves that a lie is actually true. This can be a useful skill if you have to pass a lie detector test. Some people are skilled at catching people who are telling lies. This can be a useful skill to recognize and avoid getting hurt by con men and habitual liars.

Most actively addicted people tell lies about their alcohol and other drug use. They minimize how much they use and try to cover up the damage caused by their use.

Some addicts don’t actually lie, they just block out some aspects of reality so they are intentionally ignorant. This is called being sincerely deluded.

Must alcoholics, for example, never count the number of drinks they have or add up how much money they are spending on alcohol or drugs. They keep themselves willfully or intentionally ignorant in order to avoid facing the truth.

The truth is a continually evolving thing based upon our best understanding at the time. All we can really tell someone is our best understanding of the truth as Wevsee it at the current time and then explain why we believe it to be true (i.e. Present the evidence we have that makes us believe that it is true).

In the everyday world we operate on a common-sense definition of truth.

– I did or did not do this!
– I was or was not at a certain place at a specific time!
– This is what has happened in the past !
– This is what is happening now!
– This is what I believe will happen in the future!

Anyone who tells you they know exactly what will happen in the future is guessing or is sincerely deluded. No one can be certain about the future.

Many people have beliefs without evidence. They accept things are true without any real proof. Every culture teaches thousands of truths, both little and big, that people are supposed to accept as true.

So what should you do if you believe someone is lying to you?

The first step is to ask the question again and make sure you are understanding their answer. Many accusations of telling a lie are based in poor communication and misunderstanding.

Tell the other person very clearly that you don’t believe it is true and present your evidence. Tell them you are open to reconsider if they have better evidence. This gives the people their day in court. They get to describe the “truth as they see it from their point of view.”

Before jumping to conclusions it is helpful to detach, back up, observe, and investigate. The serious problem is not a single lie told in isolation to deal with a specific situation. The most serious problem is the person who uses deceit and dishonesty as a habitual way to cope with life.

If there is a pattern of lying, it is foolish to trust. Many people are habitual liars. In other words they are in the habit of twisting the truth to get what they want.

Trust must be earned. It must be built little by little, one step at a time. When building a relationship, it is best to self-disclose a little bit at a time. If the person responds by self-disclosing at the same level to you, go back a try again. If they continue self-disclose at the level that you are they are, they are probable trustworthy. If they don’t reciprocate, be wary and ask yourself if they are trying to hide something or to get you at a disadvantage by knowing more about you than you know about them.

If what you told them in confidence ends up on the grapevine, run the other way. People who gossip and tell you the secrets of others that were told to them in confidence will almost certainly do the same to you.

Recovery demands a policy of rigorous honesty this means:

– The willingness to look honestly at yourself and your past behavior;
– The intent to be honest by reporting the truth as you believe it to be while acknowledging that “I might be wrong.”
– To promptly admit mistakes and be willing to correct them;
– To look with a critical eye at what you believe and the evidence you have to support that belief; and
– To be willing to act in faith upon your best understanding of the truth until you find new and more compelling evidence that causes you to change your mind.

Rigorous honesty is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced. This is because, as fallible human beings we are prone to lie to ourselves and it others. It is also because the truth is hard to find.


Don’t miss Terry Gorski’s books and workbooks on recognizing and managing denial.

Denial Management Counseling (DMC)

The Books of Terence T. Gorski

The Wolf and the Lamb

December 13, 2013

Terence T. Gorski, Author
A Personal comment and passing on
the Aesop Fable and The Moral of the Story


The Wolf and the Lamb
When Hunger Drives Conflict
Who Wins?

“A tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny. So it is useless for the innocent to seek justice through reasoning when the oppressor intends to be unjust.” ~ Aesop

The Wolf and the Lamb is the fable that Illustrates this moral. It was written by Aesop and used to educate millions of children into the realities of life. The popularity of Aesop Fables faded as political correctness began replacing reality with the art of lying about the nature of life to avoid offending others.

Jesus taught in the New Testament that the day would come when the world and the world and the lamb can lie down in peace together. I wish that were true. I must simply say perhaps some day, but not in this lifetime. When both the wolf and sheep start getting hungry and all that is left for food is each other – that’s when the trouble starts. In this battle, who do you think will win?

We were created by a loving God.  We we were cast into a world where life must feed upon life in order to survive.  We are told by God Incarnate or the prophets of God to love one another. All of these original messengers were violently and horrible killed by the political  wolves of their day. So my humble message, which may be wrong, is love one another and beware of the big bad wolf. Trust God and lock your car.

I do acknowledge that when wolves and dogs are well fed they can be peaceful. When hunger laws at their bellies they form into packs and go searching for food. That’s canine version of a human mob. They hunt and kill relentlessly and without mercy. So I guess my revised opinion, which also may be wrong, is this: we need to beware the big bad wolf and also beware the human mobs.

I really want George or wells vision of tyranny toe be wrong. I just know that in a battle between a wold and lamb, the world usually wins. There is no reasoning with a hungry monster when they come to visit. Out core survival responses urge to fight, run, or freeze and hide.


An Aesop Fable

While lapping water at the head of a running brook, a wolf noticed a stray lamb some distance down the stream. Once he made up his mind to attack her, he began thinking of a plausible excuse for making her his prey.

“Scoundrel!”, he cried, running up to her. “How dare you muddle the water that I am drinking!”

“Please forgive me,” replied the lamb meekly, “but I don’t see how I could have done anything to the water since it runs from you to me, not from me to you.”

“Be that as it may,” the wolf retorted, “but you know it was only a year ago that you called me many bad names behind my back.”

“Oh, sir,” said the lamb, “I wasn’t even born a year ago.”

“Well,” the wolf asserted, “if it wasn’t you, it was your mother, and that’s all the same to me. Anyway, it’s no use trying to argue me out of my supper.”

And without another word, he fell upon the poor helpless lamb and tore her to pieces.

“A tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny. So it is useless for the innocent to seek justice through reasoning when the oppressor intends to be unjust.” ~ Aesop

Addiction Symptoms, PAW, and The Circle Of Denial

December 2, 2013

By Terence T. Gorski

imagesAlcohol and drug addiction has progressive symptoms that are readily observable. There are the SUBSTANCE-BASED SYMPTOMS, which occur while the addict is actively using with a high blood level of the drug. Then there are the ABSTINENCE/WITHDRAWAL-BASED SYMPTOMS, which come into play when an alcoholic/addict tried to stop using. This includes an acute withdrawal syndrome, known and recognized for decades. It also includes the symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal (PAW).

PAW, an Abstinence-based group of symptoms, shows up in the following ways:

(1) Problems in thinking clearly and solving usually simple problems;

(2) Problems managing feelings and emotions which results in alternating episodes of emotional over-reaction or emotional numbness;

(3) Problems with storing short-term memory into long-term memory which makes people forgetful;

(4) Sleep disorders marked by the inability to sleep restfully until exhaustion imposes a sleeping marathon of 20 hours or longer;

(5) Problems with psychomotor coordination making people stumble, drop things, or knock things over (the origin of the term “dry drunk);

(6) Problems with managing stress marked by the tendency of the previous five symptoms getting dramatically worse when tired, fatigued, or under pressure.

The incredible thing is that all of these symptoms, both SUBSTANCE-BASED SYMPTOMS and ABSTINENCE/WITHDRAWAL-BASED SYMPTOMS, are very noticeable. They are not at all funny although there is a tendency to laugh about them. It is what is called dark humor, gallows humor, or a cold joke. But then again, humor is more about pain than anything else. We rarely laugh at people who are doing healthy functional things. We laugh at the things that hurt so bad we need some comic relief to get away even for a little while.

So how are these readily observable symptoms so easily accepted in the real world, enabled by people close to the addict, and denied by the alcoholics themselves, and usually no diagnosed by trained physicians, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals?  It is liked a circular closed loop of denial:

“I deny! à My friends & family deny! à The world denies à Start again.




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