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Similarly, the estimates of costs and benefits of any action can be endlessly varied through successful deception. The immense toll of life and human welfare from the United States' intervention in Truthfulness, Deceit, and Trust 21 Vietnam came at least in part from the deception (mingled with self-deception) by those who channeled overly optimistic information to the decision-makers. Finally, the degree of uncertainty in how we look at our choices can be manipulated through deception. Deception can make a situation falsely uncertain as well as falsely certain.

At that time, even if the liar has no personal sense of loss of integrity* from his deceitful practices, he will surely regret the damage to his credibility which their discovery brings about. Paradoxically, once his word is no longer trusted, he will be left with greatly decreased power—even though a lie often does bring at least a short-term gain in power over those deceived. Even if the liar cares little about the risks to others from his deception, therefore, all these risks to himself argue in favor of at least weighing any decision to lie quite seriously.

Discrepant Perspectives The discrepancy of perspectives explains the ambiguity toward lying which most of us experience. While we know the risks of lying, and would prefer a world where others abstained from it, we know also that there are times when it would be helpful, perhaps even necessary, if we ourselves could deceive with impunity. By itself, each perspective is incomplete. Each can bias moral judgments and render them shallow. Even the perspective of the deceived can lead to unfounded, discriminatory suspicions about persons thought to be untrustworthy.

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