One interesting facet is that all these examples have a common mechanism: injecting noise into the signal in order to disguise the signal. At least, if you consider oil spatters on your shoes as a “signal” that the shoes are dirty. This works when we simply want to eliminate the signal, or when we can ensure that the intended recipient can still pick it up. Can we find more examples using this mechanism?
One might be political campaign funding. Politicians want to accept bribes, and many people and institutions want to give them bribes in exchange for favors. They can’t do this openly, so disguise is called for. One way to disguise political bribes is to hide them. Another way, though, is to create an environment in which there are lots of conversations about the political desires of constituents, and lots of ways to make campaign contributions, so that it becomes very hard to identify a particular set of conversations and monetary transactions that constitute a quid pro quo. And that’s exactly what we see, at least in American politics.
Another is flirtation. People want to express their romantic interest in each other, but maintain plausible deniability. One way is to be really subtle, starting from near-zero flirtation and gradually escalating the flirtatiousness, gathering information all the while on mutual availability and interest. The “shoot the moon” strategy is to be outrageously flirtatious with everybody, and use the openness this generates in order to gather the same information. The “plausible deniability” here is akin to the political campaign funding example.
A third is offensiveness in the arts. If you make art that’s a little bit offensive, it can wither under social disapproval. Make art that’s extremely offensive, and it becomes a Statement that demands greater reflection, or attracts enough defenders and fans to support the artist (because of who it offends).
In the offensiveness example, I’m not sure if anything’s being disguised via an injection of noise, but it still feels aligned with the “shoot the moon” strategy.
Maybe a different way to describe it is “biphasic.” It’s any intervention where a little bit is harmful, but a lot is helpful. It simply happens that “injection of noise” is a mechanism that is an example of a biphasic intervention, but there are many other biphasic mechanisms as well. Obviously, there’s also the reverse: interventions where a little bit is helpful, but too much is harmful. It seems possible to me that people tend to neglect the possibility that interventions are biphasic.
My guess is that many biphasic interventions are challenging and risky to execute, but a profitable niche to occupy if you can do it successfully.