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A word for allowing someone to arrive at the wrong conclusion and is doing so dishonest?

Posted on 2014-11-19
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-11-30

What is a word for allowing someone to arrive at the wrong conclusion?

Also, is doing so dishonest?

I think everyone would agree that knowingly communicating something false (ie lying) is a form of dishonesty. However, if one party has not lied but clearly understands that another party has come to an incorrect conclusion (for whatever reason), is it dishonest for the first party to leave it alone?

I have been comparing some words related to this topic and their definitions. For example:

    • use ambiguous language so as to conceal the truth or avoid committing oneself
    • use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to avoid commitment or in order to mislead

    • speak or act in an evasive way
    • to speak falsely or misleadingly;
    • deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie.

    • render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible
    • to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy

Tergiversate (ter-JIV-er-sate):
    • make conflicting or evasive statements; equivocate
    • to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc

    • intentionally communicate a false statement
    • to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive.

There are others of course but it seems that each of them is located somewhere on one or more scales or spectra with the following extremes (which I'm sure contain some overlap or redundancy):

      Passive — — — — — — — — — — Proactive
      Unintentional — — — — — — — — — — Intentional
      Inaction  — — — — — — — — — — Action

Of the above words and others I found, it seems that "equivocate" is the one furthest from actually lying but it still implies some degree of proactive intent and action to mislead. The concept I'm describing and the word I'm looking for (if it exists), would reside at the far left of the above scales.

In other words, nothing was said or done by the communicator — and perhaps there was not even any intent — to deceive or mislead. However, there is a recognition that, unless corrected, the "communicatee" will leave with a meaning or understanding which is inaccurate or false.

Question by:WeThotUWasAToad
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40454338
The first question is... Is it actually any of your business?  A lot of people come to erroneous conclusions about things that only involve them.  That's their business.  A lot of people think that they shouldn't vaccinate their children.  When they let their children out in society with others, it becomes society's business with possible legal consequences because of public health concerns.

The first question is based on who will be affected by the consequences... who's business is it?  I can worship purple dragons and it will be absolutely none of your business.  If I try to execute people because they don't believe in purple dragons, then it is everyone's business.

Author Comment

ID: 40456253
Dave Baldwin >>
The first question is... Is it actually any of your business?
Thanks for the clarifying question. The answer is: Absolutely.

I am not referring to someone who, because of where they are sitting on a bus, for example, is overhearing a conversation between two complete strangers in the seat behind them.

Instead, my question refers to a conversation (or maybe an email dialog) between two or more individuals on a topic which is relevant and important to both/all of them.

• husband & wife — re their finances
• teenager & parent — re teenager's homework
• business colleagues — re a business project potentially affecting both of their careers
• acquaintances — at odds regarding an earlier agreement between them
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40456286
If you are not the husband or the wife in the conversation, then I say it is none of your business unless they ask you.  I feel the same about the other situations you mention if you are a third party.  If it doesn't involve you, then it is none of your business unless they invite you into the conversation.  Of course, if you are one of the involved parties, you should speak your mind... or suffer in silence.

Other situations like breaking the law are obviously society's business which makes it also your business as a member of society.

Any one by themselves can be as wrong as they wish and you don't have any right to interfere.  When they start involving others then it becomes more than just their business.  But it doesn't become your business until they involve you or society.

While I believe that you should try to know what you think is right or wrong for you, passing unnecessary judgements on others is something I think we should avoid.
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Author Comment

ID: 40456323
Dave Baldwin  >>
If you are not the husband or the wife in the conversation, then…
I apologize if I have not made this clear but please disregard/forget anything having to do with a third-party overhearing someone else's conversation.

My question is specifically about when you are the one in the conversation. In other words, you are the husband or the wife, you are the teenager, or you are the businessman. It's about when you are in a conversation with someone and the two of you are discussing a topic affecting and important to both of you.

If, in that setting, you recognize that the person to whom you are talking has reached a conclusion or come to an understanding which you know is incorrect. Is it dishonest for you to not say something or take some kind of steps to correct their false conclusion or understanding?
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Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 40456359
I wouldn't say it was dishonest but I would say it would be stupid on your part.  'dishonest' is a judgemental word and distracts from the idea that you need to do something to change the situation.  If you just simply tell someone they are wrong, you will frequently just anger them and make them more stubborn about their ideas.  That doesn't help you if you want something to be 'better' or 'more correct'.

It is not easy to get someone to see or do something differently than they have been.  They frequently have an emotional and ego investment in their own viewpoint.  The best general tactic is to show that a different way is better for them without attacking their way and saying it is wrong.  I've found that even when people decide to do something 'your' way, they seldom admit that they were wrong and that trying to get them to do that can severely damage a relationship.
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Accepted Solution

tliotta earned 200 total points
ID: 40460199
I don't know if a word exists. It seems like it'd be something like "unhonest" rather than "dishonest". "Unhonest" feels more passive/unintentional.

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Expert Comment

ID: 40464383
BTW, if it was recognized, how could it thereafter also be unintentional? By determining that, it might be possible to focus in on some particular words.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40472951

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