Laws of Power: The Secret Agent


Sincerity is rare, and it is one of the most subtle and clever forms of stratagem, sincerity comes to be merely another tool to extract information for your advantage. The cunning utilises sincerity merely as another tool in their arsenal to win people to their side, they acknowledge the fact that its seeming transparency lowers people’s guard, making them vulnerable to potentially exploit. Furthermore, once their guard is lowered, they are both more receptive and easier to mislead as a sense of trust starts to develop on top of the seeming good faith.

Most people believe honesty is the best policy, this is their way of exhibiting one of their most inherent weaknesses, thus concealing deception and investigation through a harmless and sincere front is one of the most subtle forms of smokescreens you can use. To gather information does not exactly require insincerity, you can be sincere and simultaneously inquiring through indirect probing instead of asking direct questions. There is no urgent necessity for terrible untruthfulness to compel people to reveal their hand. Rather, you could compel people to expose their hand by understanding the underlying prompts that cause them to do so.

A man by the name of Joseph Duveen used third parties to win over an art collector to his side, persuading him to buy his art and making a loyal client of him. His course of action to achieve this was clever and straightforward, he hired spies and took them under his wing to gather information about the man’s taste, tendencies, and delicacies. He would later use this information to coerce the man into buying from him, adjusting his conduct and temperament accordingly. The third parties would update him with valuable information because they operate in the man’s territory and they also were on Duveen’s payroll. Having third parties doing the spying for you makes you seem like a fortune teller, able to accurately assess someone’s desires and proclivities. This psychic-like power amplifies your character and makes you appear grandiose to the point of captivation. There is an element of inscrutability that comes with having third parties, as no one can figure out where your valuations and information are coming from.

You can only have foreknowledge if you have obtained and gathered information on your adversary through devious investigation, whether be through the use of spies of doing it yourself. You can cultivate the qualities required to engage in undercover work and not have to rely on third parties to accumulate relevant information. The one obstacle you will be confronted with when you exercise this course of action yourself is that people tend to conceal their feelings and intentions. And, of course, you must have a degree of influence over future events to preserve your control. There are many ways to indirectly force people to reveal their hand, some more subtle than others, but many do the job depending on the situation at hand. Duveen had an impressive ability to conceal his genuine temperament and motives in a very subtle smokescreen of insinuation and ambiguity. He got others to do all the talking, revealing information about their lives and plans and as a result, they find themselves uncovering their motives and desires. Talleyrand was another such figures, he was known for saying very little yet was a good conversationalist. He would let others do all the talking, yet control the direction of the conversation through indirectly compelling them to disclose their incentives.

To have a trusting front and not arouse suspicion, you should conceal investigation in courtesy and modesty. Whether friend or foe, this smokescreen allows you to gather your desired information. Talleyrand, to get the upper hand and read a situation, used to shoot a firearm to see who and how they’ll respond. If they did, they would jump out of the window. The effect is simple but effective as it uncovers people’s character. Nevertheless, your indirect probing should not become apparent, for as people’s doubts start to manifest, so does their lack of trust. If you’re suspicious you’re being lied to, exhibit it in your suspicious gesture. This will compel the liar to carry on with his falsifications until eventually he falls short and unmasks himself. The trick, then, is to get others to expose their hand while not exposing yours. This is not as intricate as it may sound, if you apply the relevant methods, your friendly facade will make up for your search for information. It is not so much that your seeking information is immoral, it may or may not be, it is beyond the point. If people notice that you are acting suspicious, in search for particulars, you will be met with resistance and opposition and the effect will crumble and there is a chance your good name will be injured also.

If you’re at a social event, keep an eye out and be attentive. In any gathering, people’s resistance is softened and this makes for a good chance to accumulate details while blending in with everyone else. Gatherings are perfect for this course of action, you have the ability to blend in with the crowd, adjusting your temperament to better acculturate with the environment. If you subdue your character momentarily and focus on getting others to talk, mostly about themselves, you will gradually open them up. Before you know it, they will find themselves saying more than necessary, giving you the upper hand while you disguise your motives with a most sincere and courteous front. As you control the direction of the conversation, you also have to indirectly inquire. This will not be put to question assuming you have nailed all the other facets, and in such an atmosphere, said subtle methods are not straightforward to make out.

There are other forms of probing that are somewhat more situational. You can gauge people’s character and motives through making up a supposed secret, confessing it and seeing their reaction. Straightforward yet effective, and if dropped at the right time, you will manage to get a reaction out of them, but not necessarily the one you want. Another form of probing is the use of contradiction, to appear to say something conflicting that unsettles them and discerning their response and gesture. When people are unsettled by something, they tend to lose some influence over their verbose and this sense of confusion can be defeating for them but fairly productive for you.

There is an old yet artful saying, give a false confession to receive a real one. That is, your seeming admission and sincerity to confess will urge them to give a confession in return, except theirs will be authentic unless it is someone who has a capacity for cunning and is able to sniff it out. Knowing what information to disclose and conceal is important, it preserves your control and influence over your domain. And it is not as simple as it sounds to know what information to keep private and what you can disclose, you must have an adequate foresight to consider the possible variables of your remarks, how they are delivered, and what gesture it is coupled with. Moreover, you do not have all the time in the world to think, it demands shrewdness and being quick on your feet.

Truth is a treasure, and it is usually secured with an intricate layer of falsehood that safeguards the truth from being put out. That being said, you must know how to provide false information when circumstance demands. When the real is blended in with the false, the false is that much harder to discern because the very alternation of them muddles you to which is which. With regards to false information, if it is blended in with evident information that needs to fabrication, it makes for ideal concealment of false information. Nevertheless, it is of import to point out that the delivery of false information is crucial. It must be as believable as the real, but not immoderate effort must be put into it, or else you achieve the opposite, you make people dubious as to why you’re explaining yourself. The real and false, then, must be intermingled and delivered in almost an identical manner, and an inscrutable poker face is definitely advantageous in these conditions.


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