Monday, April 14, 2014

Irony of the Day: WUWT Motto on Deceit?

Sou | 3:01 PM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts at WUWT has borrowed a Machiavellian quote as his Quote of the Week and tipped his hat to one of his favourite deceivers (archived here).
Quote of the Week: One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. Niccolo Machiavelli [H/t Tim Ball] 

Do you think Anthony and Tim have it written in big letters on a plaque on the wall of their offices?

The full quote is:
Ma è necessario questa natura saperla bene colorire, et essere gran simulatore e dissimulatore: e sono tanto semplici li uomini, e tanto obediscano alle necessità presenti, che colui che inganna troverrà sempre chi si lascerà ingannare.

Translated as:
But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. 

"This characteristic" refers to the use of "craft" - like a fox. Here is the quote in context for you to ponder or re-ponder or ignore or whatever, from a translation available at The Project Gutenberg (my bold italics do not signify agreement or disagreement):

Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word. You must know there are two ways of contesting,(*) the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man. This has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a prince to know how to make use of both natures, and that one without the other is not durable. A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to excuse this non-observance. Of this endless modern examples could be given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best.
But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander the Sixth did nothing else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes,(*) because he well understood this side of mankind.

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.

And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one, cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to fidelity,(*) friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it.

Source: The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli (Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli); Translator: W. K. Marriott; as published by The Project Gutenberg


  1. Surely more appropriate at WUWT;

    Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.

  2. The Alexander the Sixth referred to was the Pope - born Roderigo Borgia. He wasn't the first Borgia to wear the wedding-cake hat (his uncle has that claim), but he was the real founder of Borgia power in Italy, and a more worldly and corrupt pope would be hard to find.

    But he was an effective Prince; to take a modern meme: shorter Machiavelli: be like Roderigo Borgia.

  3. If WUWT did not exist , would you still be able to make a living Sue?

    1. Thanks for the compliment Ernest. If there weren't so much disinformation being spread about I'd spend more time earning a crust.

      No-one pays me to write. Instead it costs a lot, but it's worth it.

      The HW boss not only pays me not a dime for this blog, she's a hard taskmaster. Always wanting more:/

    2. The mental turmoil must be tremendous I agree.
      Even as a skeptic I like to visit and see what the crazies are up to this week.
      I see Lewandowsky just scored 100 goals for Borusia Dortmund any relation to the Lewandowsky who specialises in own goals I wonder?

    3. Or a relation to the Lewandowsky who scored a spectacular winner only to see it disallowed wrongly by a ref who ignored the evidence even of the other officials?

    4. You obviously missed the sly kick he had at an opponent prior to the attempt.


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