• Offered by Department of Political and Social Change
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Robert Cribb
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

We are being lied to at every turn. Our perceptions of the world are manipulated and things that matter to us are decided behind a veil of secrecy. At the same time, accusations of lying, 'false news' and conspiracy undermine social trust. Drawing especially from examples in and about Asia, this course examines how and why lies are constructed, why we believe them (and why we often want to believe them) and how we can use investigative techniques to get closer to the truth. This course utilises a historical approach combined with contemporary examples to understand the role of lies, conspiracy, and propaganda.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. understand and evaluate the characteristics of public deception, including common forms of lying, techniques for manipulation and the circumstances in which deception is attempted
  2. critically analyse the impact of culture and of political circumstance on patterns of deception and credulity
  3. undertake source-critical research aimed at better determining the reliability of information
  4. demonstrate the most important elements of good writing and presentation practice
  5. engage effectively in high-level argument and debate

Indicative Assessment

  1. Five small writing tasks prepared for class (10) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Oral Presentation (rehearsal 5%, written summary and bibliog 5%, presentation 10%) (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research essay (40) [LO 3,4]
  4. Document study and round-table discussion (30) [LO 3,4,5]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


One three-hour block per week, including lecture, discussion, practical activities and student presentations. May alternatively be taught semi-intensively (Friday evenings, all day Saturday) on four weekends.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with POLS2102 and ASIA2045.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Frances Wood, Did Marco Polo go to China? New York: Westview Press, 1998

Stephan, John T., ‘The Tanaka Memorial (1927): Authentic or Spurious?’, Modern Asian Studies 7 no 4 (1973) pp. 733-745.

Horace Freeland Judson, The great betrayal: fraud in science Orlando: Harcourt, 2004

LaFollette, Marcel C., Stealing into print: fraud, plagiarism, and misconduct in scientific publishing Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992

Brunvand, Jan Harold, The vanishing hitchhiker: American urban legends and their meanings New York: Norton, 1981

Georges Lefebvre, The great fear of 1789: Rural panic in revolutionary France New York: Schocken Books, 1989.

James Siegel, ""'I was not there, but...',"" Archipel 46 (1993), pp. 59-65

Chalmers, What is this thing called science?

Michael Shermer, Why people believe weird things (New York: Holt & Co. 2002)

John Roosa, Pretext for Mass Murder: The September 30th Movement & Suharto's Coup D'État in Indonesia, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007

Robert Cribb, 'Genocide in Indonesia, 1965-1966', Journal of Genocide Research 3 no. 2 (June 2001), pp. 219–239

Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle Eastern Fears of Conspiracy. by New York: St. Martin's Press 1998.

Burhanuddin, ‘The Conspiracy of Jews: The Quest for Anti-Semitism in Media Dakwah’ Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 5, Number 2, August 2007 http://www.arts.auckland.ac.nz/sites/index.cfm?P=11338

Kruger, Rayne The devil's discus (London: Cassell, 1964)

Stowe, Judith A, Siam becomes Thailand: a story of intrigue (London: Hurst, 1991)

Teiwes, Frederick C., The tragedy of Lin Biao: riding the tiger during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1971 Bathurst, NSW: Crawford House Pub., 1996

Lynch, Daniel C. After the Propaganda State: Media, Politics, and ""Thought Work"" in Reformed China. Stanford: Stanford U. Pr., 1999. Desser, David. ‚From the Opium War to the Pacific War: Japanese Propaganda Films of World War II’ Film History [Australia] 1995 7(1): 32-48.

Larry Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations

Anthony Rhodes, Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II,

John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War

Landsberger, Stefan, Chinese propaganda posters: from revolution to modernization Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1995

Lynch, Daniel C. After the propaganda state: media, politics, and ""thought work"" in reformed China Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Cheek, Timothy, Propaganda and culture in Mao's China: Deng Tuo and the intelligentsia Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Gavin Menzies, 1421: the year China discovered the world London: Bantam, 2002

Rivers, P. J. ‘1421’ voyages: fact & fantasy Ipoh: Perak Academy, 2004

Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi , ‘The Nanking 100-Man Killing Contest Debate: War Guilt Amid Fabricated Illusions, 1971–75’, Journal of Japanese Studies 26 no 2 (2000), 307–340


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4233 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person N/A

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