Over at the writing blog, I wrote about managing expectations. While that's in the context of an author cultivating an audience, expectations and handling them is a key element to all walks of life.
I can observe this in action when watching any sport or game, especially one with opposing players, be the game one played by oneself or as part of a team. I can observe this when I watch boxers, wrestlers, fencers, or other martial artists face off. It is this observation that forms the basis of the OODA Loop coined and developed by U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd.
It is this realization that forms the basis of successful predation, and defense against the same. It is the basis for Public Relations, Marketing, and Advertising- the basis for Psychological Operations of all kinds. Sun Tzu refers to this when he wrote that
All warfare is based on deception.
Knowing what is expected, and how those expectations can be subverted, thwarted, fulfilled, etc. is a key to power. Some would say that it is the to power, as all else comes in acting or reacting to those expectations. Knowledge, therefore, really does translate directly and immediately into power if you can better manage expectations than your opposition.
If there is any tell that marks the loss of innocence, it is in realizing the full implications of this fact- starting with that this is a thing akin to nuclear weapons; once anyone starts wilfully managing and manipulating expectations for predatory ends, it is necessary and proper for everyone else to do similarly if only to defend themselves from that very predatory manipulation. This is a realizing that can, has, and does ruin those unready for such knowledge- a fact we've carried in our mythology since the dawn of known history.
I don't make that comparison lightly. There are multiple professional career paths predicated upon this fact, refining specific strategies and tactics for their own benefit and that of their clients. (I mentioned four above.) Mastering one opens up all of them, once you reckon how to apply them to differing circumstances. While some are (relatively) new, the classic careers are based out of military and intelligence needs that any nation or state must have fully developed to remain potent and relevant.
And I truly despise that this exists. I did not seek out formal education as a Historian because I love to bullshit. I sought out that education because I wanted true, faithful, and reliable answers to questions of the past (and relevant to the present) for which I'd been only given half-truths and lies. From that I learned that Historians, like Journalists, are applied users of narrative (and hence Narrative Warfare); it's not hard to see other applications of the same principles in other contexts.
Yet it does exist, and if I am to die at all satisfied then I must make peace with that fact. Our posterity must stand on pillars of fact and truth, verified (and verifiable) as such, if they are to achieve what they are in this life to do and leave it better than they found it. Civilization demands nothing less.