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May 2nd 2014 at 11:06:08 AM •••

Is this the best place to add a description of the nearly-universal human behavior of feigning ignorance as a means of projecting innocence or moral purity (or alternatively trying to tarnish a rhetorical target)? In other words, you know all sorts of things about a subject, but you don't want to appear like you're a fan, so you pretend to less knowledge than you actually have. This must come up more or less constantly in film (and probably other media as well). Does it belong under this, or is it something different?

One of my favorite Real Life examples is in the music video for Rage Against the Machine's song "Sleep Now in the Fire" - a standard moral guardian is heard at the end with the following quote: "There's a band called, uh, 'The Machine Rages On,' or, or, 'Rage Against the Machine' — that band, is..." etc. etc.

I'm having trouble coming up with fictional examples, but virtually everyone does this from time to time, so there's gotta be something out there, no?

Apr 14th 2014 at 1:43:18 AM •••

Why no real life examples? Those are, arguably, more interesting than the others. See Doug Hegdahl:

Oct 6th 2013 at 11:53:30 AM •••

I found this on the quotes page:

A certain combination of skill and ignorance is very effective, you do not suspect it, and you accede to it.
It's a great quote, but there's no mention of who said it. Does anyone know?

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Telcontar MOD
Oct 6th 2013 at 12:29:15 PM •••

Actually, a brief search suggests it's from Teen Wolf (specifically, said by Cato The Elder with reference to Lydia Martin).

Sep 14th 2012 at 12:34:49 PM •••

I don't consider this Controversial enough for "No real life examples please" Claudius alone justifies it, he's arguably the Trope Codifier at least for specific Dysfunctional Royal Family type scenarios.

I assume he's discussed via I,Claudius, but still.

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Jan 6th 2013 at 11:25:33 AM •••

It's probably because some people had flame wars as to whether people like Boris Johnson were serious about it. But I'm afraid I'd have to agree.

Jul 1st 2012 at 8:58:43 PM •••

Wait, Feigning Intelligence gets Real Life examples, but this trope doesn't? I'd think calling someone out on pretending to be smart would be a lot more insulting than calling someone out on pretending to be dumb. I know for a fact as an ADHD suffer that people with some form of ADD can be a perfect real life example of this trope as they tend to be bored by more stereotypically "intellectual" stuff and will act ignorant on the subject to avoid people asking them for help on the subject.

Apr 26th 2011 at 1:47:13 AM •••

I think that the "real life" part should be YMMV, or parts of it, at least. It seems to be, when contemporary celebrities come up, little more than a vehicle for fans to say "The person I like ain't stupid. They are just pretending! Haters are the stupid ones!"

Feb 22nd 2011 at 6:34:41 PM •••

Wait, shouldn't this be 'obfuscating intelligence?' Because obfuscate means to hide or obscure.

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Feb 22nd 2011 at 10:30:42 PM •••

No, because it is feigned stupidity for the purpose of hiding intelligence. The word obfuscating is being used as a gerundive, describing the stupidity, the trope doesn't refer to the act of hiding stupidity.

May 11th 2013 at 2:22:00 PM •••

It's still ambiguous, and a plausible reading is the opposite of what was meant. Why not just "Feigned Stupidity" or "Playing Dumb"?

Jan 12th 2011 at 12:01:21 PM •••

"** Except the Shu-Han stayed alive mainly because of the legendary generals running the country's army. When the last of the legendary Five Tigers, Zhao Yun, died, Shu-Han barely lasted past his death."

First off, as you say, Shu Han only lasted 34 years after Zhao Yun's death. But that ignores the fact that Shu Han hadn't existed for that long before hand (Wiki makes its total length at 42 years, although you could probably count some of the time before he actually became Emperor). The point is that the state was a relatively new one (its claims to succession of the Hans set aside) and therefore extremely vulnerable, especially considering that the two rival states were so much larger. Really, I'd say all hope was lost after Jing was lost and Guan Yu killed, and then compounded with the horrific defeat at Yi Ling. The surprising thing is that they lasted as long as they did, while still managing to keep up an aggressive military policy.

Second, I'd say that the country owed less to the Five Tiger Generals, and more to Zhuge Liang. Zhuge was the real pillar of the force. Note that Liu Bei barely had any territory at all, even with two or three of the five on his side, until he finally picks up Zhuge. Zhuge made everything work.

Also, you say (when you replaced the lines after my first deletion): "The point stands, however, as it WAS the legendary generals of Shu who kept the country alive after Liang died." Who was still around after Zhuge Liang died? He survived pretty much all the major military officers, even lampshading it on the death of one of Guan Yu's (or was it Zhang Fei's?) sons (paraphrased, "Old men linger, while the young are taken untimely"). There's Wei Yan, but he rebelled and died shortly thereafter. Ma Dai kind of just fades away. That leaves Jiang Wei, who could never seem to score even the partial victories that Zhuge did, and who merely whittled away what resources Shu had.

May 11th 2013 at 2:10:50 PM •••

It's from "The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception" by Melton and Wallace,, based on an MKUltra manual by John Mulholland. (Found by Google reverse image search.)

Edited by
Jul 4th 2010 at 8:10:04 AM •••

So what do you call a character who does this simply by being completely honest, because he knows nobody will take his excuse of "Oh, I'm late because I was fighting the forces of darkness" seriously?

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Apr 15th 2010 at 2:17:53 PM •••

i propose adding kyoshiro mibu (Samurai deeper kyo) to the list - at least in the early chapters he deceives the reader to a degree.

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