Smoke and Mirrors


What does Smoke and Mirrors mean?

The phrase Smoke and Mirrors has been used to describe a situation where someone is attempting to disguise the truth or distract from a reality. This expression is often used to suggest that someone is using illusions, misdirection, and other techniques of deception to make their intentions appear different than they really are.

In other words, they are trying to create an illusion in order to deceive those around them. Ultimately, this expression implies that appearances can be deceiving and that there may be more going on behind the scenes than what meets the eye.

“Smoke and Mirrors” are the staple of people with the maxed out skill of Speech 100.

Synonyms for the phrase may be Hocus Pocus or in some cases even Beating Around the Bush.


What's the origin of Smoke and Mirrors?

The original illusion of “Smoke and Mirrors”, used in magic, can be tied to Johann Georg Schröpfer, a German magician in from the 18th century. He used light projected with a mirror onto smoke to create the illusion of floating, manifesting and disappearing objects.

Despite this, the expression wasn’t used colloquially until 1975, when it was included in the book of James Breslin, titled How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer.

Breslin coined the “Smoke and Mirrors”, while writing about the details of the Watergate scandal.

Spread & Usage

How did Smoke and Mirrors spread?

In the decades following the publication of Breslin‘s work, “Smoke and Mirrors” turned into an idiom, used in relation to the many-layered machinations within politics. This eventually led to the inclusion of the phrase in the title of Dan Baum‘s work; Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure.

The book was published in 1996 and also serves as an example of unveiling the shady intentions behind political rhetoric and measurements.

Since then, “Smoke and Mirrors” has been a widely used expression by journalists, in relation to politicians, as well as corporations, however, it can also be frequently encountered in everyday conversations, alluding to eloquent deception.

The phrase has also been a popular choice for musicians, serving as the title of their work. Artists like Gotye and Imagine Dragons both released songs, titled “Smoke and Mirrors.”

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