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Pettit, Michael John,1978-
The science of deception :the human sciences, the law, and commercial culture in America, 1860s-1920s.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2006
Ottawa :Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada,[2007]
3 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
This dissertation investigates the cultural meanings ascribed to the mental processes of deceiving and being deceived in America from the end of the Civil War to the outset of the Great Depression. I pay particular attention to the interplay between the sciences, the law, and commercial culture and how their changing relationships were constitutive of new 'historical ontologies' of deception. For much of the nineteenth-century, the showman P. T. Barnum had publicly displayed fraudulent objects, arguing that they honed the individual's commercial sensibilities and hence served the public good. I use the 1869 anthropological hoax known as the Cardiff Giant to investigate the unmaking of Barnum's world of humbugs. Next, I take seriously the commentary of historical observers who claimed that the confidence man was both a commercial swindler and pioneer of 'mass psychology.' During this same period, psychologists like Hugo Mûnsterberg and Joseph Jastrow developed public identities for themselves as experts in human deception. Furthermore, I investigate the failed attempt by experimental psychologists to introduce laboratory measurements into legal cases to determine whether or not consumers were likely to be deceived by acts of trademark infringement. I end with the melding of psychological techniques and Progressive Era policing, exploring the concept of a 'pathological liar' and its counterpart the supposedly normal individual whose lies could be detected through physiological measurements. A reoccurring theme is how psychological investigations into the deceptive people and things constituted an array of the bio-political strategies for regulating the marketplace.