Deception: The User Guide

Imagine being asked to develop a user guide for spies instructing them on how to deceive others using techniques based on magic tricks. Sounds crazy, right? Yet that is exactly what U.S. magician John Mulholland was asked to do by the CIA in 1953. His guide was recently discovered.

The guide, titled The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception, describes itself as follows:

The purpose of this paper is to instruct the reader so he may learn to perform a variety of acts secretly and undetectably. In short, here are instructions in deception.

The guide includes such chapters as Surreptitious Removal of Objects, Working as a Team, and my personal favourite: Special Aspects of Deception for Women.

Some of the procedures include:

  • tying your shoelace to give out important information
  • secretly poisoning someone’s drink
  • looking dumb
  • stealing a document
  • hiding powder in a hollowed-out pencil
  • working with a clandestine partner

Oh, to be a tech writer for the CIA….

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