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smoke and mirrors

(used with a singular or plural verb) something that distorts or blurs facts, figures, etc., like a magic or conjuring trick; artful deception.
Origin of smoke and mirrors
1980-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for smoke and mirrors

smoke and mirrors

irrelevant or misleading information serving to obscure the truth of a situation
Word Origin
C20: reference to the use of smoke and mirrors in conjuring illusions
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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smoke and mirrors in Technology

Marketing deceptions. The term is mainstream in this general sense. Among hackers it's strongly associated with bogus demos and crocked benchmarks (see also MIPS, machoflops). "They claim their new box cranks 50 MIPS for under $5000, but didn't specify the instruction mix - sounds like smoke and mirrors to me." The phrase has been said to derive from carnie slang for magic acts and "freak show" displays that depend on "trompe l"oeil' effects, but also calls to mind the fierce Aztec god Tezcatlipoca (lit. "Smoking Mirror") for whom the hearts of huge numbers of human sacrificial victims were regularly cut out. Upon hearing about a rigged demo or yet another round of fantasy-based marketing promises, hackers often feel analogously disheartened.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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