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A common tactic in the deliberate spread of misinformation such as is common in chain emails, is to state something true and easily proven in order to gain the reader's trust, then follow it with a lie that the trusting reader will not bother to verify.

An example is the Obamacare/dhimmitude email, which correctly defines the term "dhimmitude" as a Muslim tax on non-muslims, and encourages the reader to "Google it." Then the email claims that the word appears in the Obamacare law, which it doesn't. But the email gets passed around anyway, because people never bother to check.

So my question is, is there a name for this tactic?

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4 Answers

Though not specific to that technique, what's being done there is the use of half-truth, which comes pretty close. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-truth

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@njbair oh, Padawan Learner's answer brought to mind that you also have in your OP the term "misinformation." It must be composed with half-truth. The term implies intention - it's a shorten form of misleading information (I think), as opposed to "wrong information," intentional or other wise. –  Howard Pautz Sep 14 '13 at 0:32
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Disinformation - You are providing information while also knowingly spreading lies.

When I partake in a few adult beverages this is my favorite past time. Any time I can provide insight on something in a conversation, I like to follow it up with a small tidbit of bullshit. The more obscure the better. And if it is really good then they have no chance at googling an answer.

Example #1

Friends were discussing Buffalo burgers and I mentioned their low fat/calorie content, which was then verified. I then went on to talk about how the buffalo became endangered because they would not cross train tracks during their migratory process and soon just died by the tracks.

Example #2

A special was playing about Mark Twain and my kids were watching it. Soon a few guests started watching it, and his name came up and I told the meaning of marking a twain as a riverboat captain. Right after that I mentioned that Mark Twain used the name "Huckleberry" because he was allergic to Huckleberry jam.

Example #3

Friends were talking about the Dish Hopper and the use of kangaroos in their ads. I mentioned that it was interesting because a female kangaroo is a flyer. Then I went on about the name Joey for a baby kangaroo - telling a story of an Englishman convict that had escaped from penal camp and hid with a group kangaroos. And of course his name was Joey. Joey was also the first person to notice that kangaroos cannot walk backwards.

Now that my friends have caught on a bit they tend to not believe anything. But I see them checking their phones secretly a minute or two later and that makes the disinformation even more fun.

Also sharks cannot get cancer.

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Misdirection? Bait-and-switch? Seeming to do one thing yet really accomplishing another. Getting you angry because of one item (Obamacare in this case) and then slipping in another item (a reference to Islam in this case) to associate the anger. See item 4 under Thesaurus: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/misdirection.

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This kind of deliberate equivocation is also called tergiversation.

tergiversate

  1. to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.; equivocate.

  2. be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead

Another graphic description is card stacking. A detailed description can be found here.

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