Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Edward Dolnick in the New York Times on the art of deceit.
In one recent test, psychologists asked 32 volunteers to sample strawberry yogurt. To make sure the testers made their judgments purely on the basis of taste, the researchers said, they needed to turn out the lights. Then they gave their subjects chocolate yogurt. Nineteen of the 32 praised the strawberry flavor. One said that strawberry was her favorite flavor and she planned to switch to this new brand.
And experts are the easiest to fool
Every trickster’s hope, says Jim Steinmeyer, who designs illusions for magicians, is “finding smart people who bring a lot to the table — cultural experience, shared expectations, preconceptions. The more they bring, the more there is to work with, and the easier it is to get the audience to make allowances — to reach the ‘right’ conclusion and unwittingly participate in the deception.”
The last word
The art curator and historian Theodore Rousseau, a connoisseur of forgery, pointed out that we never find out about the best scams. “We should all realize that we can only talk about the bad forgeries, the ones that have been detected,” Rousseau warned. “The good ones are still hanging on the walls.”

I have often wondered why it is that the market value of a work of art falls if it is found to be a forgery. 

HT: The Economist's Free Exchange Blog

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