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Humans can use language to communicate things they know not to be true in order to influence the behavior of others in complex and elaborate ways. The ability to deceive others is greatly enhanced by the availability of displaced reference (cf. “Displaced reference”). There are reported cases of deception among other primate species. (1) One way that this has been observed is by means of “false” alarm calls. (2) There have also been reports that apes trained in language-like-systems in laboratory settings use diversionary tactics (such as species requests for food or drink or bathroom breaks) in order to avoid the training regimen. (3) An African gray parrot was reported to have intentionally given wrong answers in front of an unfamiliar observer to questions he knew the answers to (which he immediately and repeatedly provided when disciplinarily isolated). (4)

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  1. Alex & Me, Pepperberg, I. , p.232, (2009)
  2. Cognitive Evolution in Primates: Evidence from Tactical Deception, Byrne, R. W., and Whiten A. , Man, New Series, Volume 27, Issue 3, p.609-627, (1992)