Law 21: Play A Sucker To Catch A Sucker — Seem Dumber Than Your Mark

In the image: Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist. Wikipedia

No one likes feeling stupider than the next person. The trick then is to make your victims feel smart — and not just smart, but smarter than you are. Once convinced of this, they will never suspect that you have ulterior motives.

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Keys To Power

  • Given how important the idea of intelligence is to most people’s vanity, it is critical to never insult or impugn a person’s brain power.
  • Subliminally reassure people that they are more intelligent than you are, and you can run rings around them.
  • Appearing less intelligent than you are is the perfect disguise.


  • At the start of your climb to the top, you cannot play too stupid. You may want to let your bosses know, in a subtle way, that you are smarter than the competition around you.
  • As you climb the ladder, you should to some degree try to dampen your brilliance.
  • A show of intelligence can help you get out of a scrape.


In the image: Socrates

Socrates said,

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

He didn’t actually believe this of himself that he did not know anything. It was his way of disarming people. Sometimes you have to play dumb so that the other lets his guard down. Being openly smart is foolish. Being openly foolish is smart.

About The Book

The 48 Laws of Power (1998) is a non-fiction book by American author Robert Greene. The book is a bestseller, selling over 1.2 million copies in the United States.

Buy The 48 Laws of Power or Listen to it for FREE on Audible