“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”

Adams & Carwardine, 1990

What kinds of people need to do deception training?

All our delegates hold positions of great responsibility and are subject to a good deal of professional oversight within their organisations. This means that they are honest, professional people who need to respond to their adversaries’ malign activities in creative, yet transparent and accountable ways. The Artifice System supports the design of deceptive action within cross-discipline collaborative environments. Our tools help communicate and explain operational courses of action that rely on guile and cunning. They provide intellectual rigour and transparency that supports risk management and the justification for operational resources. If you can identify your role against any of these criteria we’d like to invite you to find out more about our programmes.

Are your courses right for my specific needs/interests?

In our resources section we offer you a free download of the introduction to our course handbook. This is a great start if you want to explore this exciting area of professional practice. Another alternative is to fill out our contact form and we will get in touch to discuss your professional interests in the field.

What support materials are provided on the course?

All the courses Artifice run are supported with both print materials for desk-based exercises and comprehensive electronic resources for post-course reference. This means delegates can focus on the course content without having to take notes unless they wish to do so.

What actually happens on a deception and influence course?

The course combines lectures and varied activities to suit all learning style preferences. There is no role playing or participation activity that puts delegates in an actual deceptive context. Instead, we use video clips, case studies and the occasional magic trick to deconstruct and explore this complex and fascinating subject area.

Will I be tricked or deceived whilst on the course?

At no point are delegates on our courses tricked or deceived without their explicit permission. Any live demonstrations of deception exploit simple and enjoyable magic tricks that exemplify specific facets of our models and tools.

Do you run counter-deception courses?

At Artifice we see counter-deception as a means to recognise when structural deception is being employed by an adversary. In this respect, we argue that counter-deception is not just about detecting lying in interpersonal interaction. A fundamental, and often overlooked principle is that deception and counter-deception are symbiotic – the study and practice of one application is mutually beneficial for the study and practice of the other. For this reason, all our deception courses have explicit counter-deception elements. These include our own Counter-Deception Critiquing Approach and the use of our Deception Analytics methods to break down deceptive action and graphically represent it for use in case studies and other intelligence products.

Can anyone attend your courses?

Our courses are not open to the general public. However, outside of select government customer organisations we do offer consultancy to commercial organisations that need to exploit deception in a defensive context.

Why can’t I book directly onto one of your courses?

Learning about deception and influence requires our delegates to try out new ideas and concepts. When this educational activity concerns matters of national security it is important that people feel comfortable discussing their specific domains. For this reason, we go to great lengths to match the interests of delegates to the courses that we run. Once you express an initial interest in attending a course, we will inform you of suitable cohorts that you can consider joining.

Do your courses help people lie more effectively?

While the field of lying and lie detection is undoubtedly a valid and important field of research with the potential to support both the public and many different national security organisations, it forms only one small subset of the wider field of deception. We argue that lying provides little help in understanding deception more broadly, as it is not relevant to other domains, and it does not support the design of deceptive action. Some philosophers even suggest that lying and deception are two entirely different phenomena. This is because lying only depends on making false statements, while deception can be achieved by making true statements, or not actually making any statements at all.

For these reasons, our courses do not cover lying, nor do they tackle lie detection. The Artifice System for designing deception and influence activity is concerned with structural deception, where Structural Deception is defined as:
“Deliberate measures to induce erroneous sensemaking and subsequent behaviour within a target audience, to achieve and exploit an advantage.”

For more information about this topic please look at our Ethics page.
Isn’t deceiving people just wrong?

Deception is all around us. It exists at all levels of life, from the microbial to the global-geopolitical, and it confers an evolutionary advantage to both predator/attacker and prey/defender. In the short term, deception increases gain, or minimises loss. In the longer term, it confers advantage by increasing the chances of survival and operational success. Deception is hard-wired into each and every one of us. It can be used benevolently to do a great deal of good, as well as used malevolently to do enormous harm.

For these reasons we argue that deception is value neutral. It is the intent behind the deception, the purpose to which deception is put, the process that is enacted, and the outcome arising from the use of deception that must be subject to careful ethical scrutiny and evaluation. All our courses include extensive checklists for the rigorous assessment of any deceptive activities prior to any actions being taken.

For more information about this topic please look at our Ethics page.

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