Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf:
. . . in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.
The sociopathic variation (though I’m sure sociopaths are very good at the classical big lie) is the addition of a lie so half baked, so half-assed that no one can imagine a lie so stupid, and therefore conclude it must not be a lie.
The TSA porno-scanners are offered as the remedy for the Christmas “undie-bomber.” And this has been widely accepted. However these scanners would not have detected the plastic explosive powders (which wasn’t a bomb anyway, missing the essential detonator — but that’s another story). “[T]he scanners were intended to detect weapons, traditional explosives (C4, plastique, etc.), and liquids — but not powder” . . . “the millimeter waves pass through low-density materials [such as powders]”, http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/11/common-sense-and-security-body-scanners, Are planned airport scanners just a scam?.
The governing principal that enable such lies to be effective is that, in general, people want the world to make sense. As I understand it, juries will actually invent narratives to make sense of their positions.
The big lie actually contains its own downfall, there is more proof that bigger lies are lies than smaller ones. But paradoxically their very bigness prevents a critical examination of their truth value (particularly if joined with intense emotions). This seems even more so for the preposterous big lie. These lies are actually transparent in their falseness. Literally they don’t make sense if examined. But the target audience can not “believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth” so sloppily, so they don’t see it (to borrow Hitler’s phrase).
Or something like that. There is a problem in this theory, sort of a fourth dimensional singularity, a time travel problem. To be convinced by the sloppy preposterousness they first have to see it, and then go back and not see it. But isn’t that the way the psyche works? Every member of an incest family has to see it, but then goes back and mounts a defense against seeing it. Of course, it’s not time travel it’s the gatekeeping ability of the unconscious.
What drives these lies is an extreme contempt for the target audience, which, sadly, the audience lives down to. As sociopaths never get tired of saying, people believe what they want to believe. These lies can be motivated by either sociopathic modality or actuality.